I arrived ... through the adjacent square, and through arches lined with green boughs studded with twinkling Christmas lights. Salzburg goes full-bore on Christmas, which is only to be expected from the birthplace of Silent Night. I imagine, though, that St Peter would be stunning at any time of the year, being inside the walls of the ancient St Peter's Abbey. If you have time before or after dinner, make sure you take a look inside the jewel-like church.
I chose here because ... it was recommended by an Austrian friend. When I looked it up online, I discovered it's the oldest restaurant in Europe, dating back to 803AD. How could you not make a point of eating at a 1200-year-old restaurant?
My first impression was ... a fairytale destination in a fairytale setting. The restaurant oozes history, from the ancient cave-like cloisters to the former wine cellar in which we dined. It was also lovely to be greeted by a very friendly and engaging host, who even joked with us; this was not typical of my Austrian restaurant experiences.
I started with ... an "essence of game" soup, which was really a flavour-bomb of a consomme, studded with what was described as French toast. In reality these were tender squares of fluffy, flavoursome, cheesy cloud. I think this dish was probably the best thing I ate during my time in Austria.
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The highlight was ... see above. It was also the overall atmosphere: the arched, ancient brick-lined ceilings; the many small rooms; the cosy candlelight; the hushed but friendly vibe. It was also fascinating watching our fellow diners, in particular the meat-loving locals sharing carved-at-the-table hunks of venison, pork and beef. Our "breast of Barbarian duck" with red cabbage and potato sour cream slice was excellent. I'd be tempted to try the wiener schnitzel on a return visit. From the menu it sounds like the real deal: rack of veal, butter-fried, with parsley potatoes and home-made lingonberry confit.
Dessert was ... the only slightly off-note; a Valrhona chocolate fondant for which we had high expectations. Sadly it had been left for two minutes too long in the oven and had lost its melty mojo. That didn't stop us polishing it all off, however, along with the accompanying blood orange sorbet.
Come here if ... you are after a truly special experience in a unique atmosphere, and bragging rights with your foodie friends.
The bill ... was not cheap. We'd chosen a three-course menu, which at 56 euros each was pretty good value. But add on a couple of glasses of wine each, water, and a cover charge for bread and spreads, and the bill for two was 190 euros. Again, though, not at all outrageous in the context of global fine dining for what was a highly memorable meal.