High above the valley floor, the day is crystal clear. Hundreds of jagged peaks reach for the heavens like frozen waves in a snowcapped ocean. Augenschmauß (a feast for the eyes). It’s an amazing location for the über-modern restaurant ice Q featured in the 2015 James Bond film Spectre. I’m here visiting a friend for three sun-drenched days. When I ask her about ice Q, she shrugs it off. “Don’t go there, it’s not worth the money.”
I’m instantly intrigued and decide to take the 30-passenger Gaislachkoglbahn to 9,144 ft and see for myself.
I step off the gondola, ditch my skis and walk over a suspended bridge to the glass jewel jutting out of the rock peak. The building defies gravity, hugging the rock like a cubed quartz crystal. How do these Austrians ever think to build these enormous lifts, gondolas, restaurants and mountain roads on top of the world? The infrastructure is incredible…other-worldly.
I walk into a light and lively space…with my ski boots on.
Love it. There’s a nice little bar full of international chatter. A tall, handsome waiter has a cocktail shaker in hand and is vigorously engaged in making a martini. Note to self…must order. Without further ado, I’m seated. The view alone is worth the 50 Euros I will spend on lunch.
Fine linens, WMF cutlery and Riedel crystal grace the table. A hearty selection of breads. A trio of savory spreads…alpine meadow butter, eggplant and cheese relish, and olive oil.
The same waiter appears with smiling eyes. I ask him how many martinis he makes a day. “Between 10 and 50. It depends,” he says.
“I’ll have one, please. Shaken, not stirred.” Cliché you say, but there is a difference. I want my 9,000-ft martini to be ice-cold, aerated and bruised. It kind of sums up how my body feels. This is medicine.
My frosty cocktail arrives and Heaven meets Earth. Does alcohol taste better at altitude? Possible. This is one of the best gin martinis I’ve ever sipped. I am transported and totally entertained. For a moment, I feel like a Bond girl ready to pounce.
The amuse-bouche. A gift from the chef. I dip into the caviar tin, moving from the top layer of glistening black caviar into a terrine of cloud-like potato and cucumber puree. Pure fun.
A short respite and lunch arrives…
Wienerschnitzel, parsley potatoes and cranberry sauce with a lemon wedge. A classic veal Schnitzel is a lovely experience. A great one always leaves you wanting more, and this Schnitzel is gorgeous. I can tell just by how it looks. Crispy and tender, it goes very well with the Grüner Veltliner in my wine glass. I’d order it again and again for 26 euros.
A strong Americano coffee is the final note. I marvel at the mountain views and observe the room. It’s full. A group of Swiss businessmen with some Americans. Two German lads from Speyer to my right. They’re caught off-guard by the prices, but I assure them it’s worth it. I even give them my extra bread. A few Brits of Indian origin. A Dutch family and many Russians. They’re all having a good time. It sums up my Sölden ski experience in general.
The ice Q restaurant. A glistening glass diamond on the Gaislachkogl. A superb lunch. A memorable and unique experience. Friendly service. A martini that will rock your world.
And the moral of the story is… vertraue deinem Bauchgefühl, und nicht deinen Freunden (trust your gut, not your friends)!