Europe’s first green restaurant – a place for adventure lovers

By Richa Sharma, IANS,

Oberried (Germany) : You can have your adventure and eat too at Europe’s first green restaurant where traditional German food is served in a beautifully lit wooden hilltop restaurant powered by solar energy at a height of 1,025 metres amid tall conifer trees in Black Forest.

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Rappenecker Hutte is a 350-year-old farm house in south Germany which has been serving as a hikers’ inn for several years. The hut in 1995 was the starting point of the downhill course of the Mountain Bike World Championship and is a well-known station of the Black Forest Ultra Bike Marathon.

Europe’s first solar-powered restaurant has been a pilot project of the world’s famous solar research institution — the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems. The restaurant is not connected to any power grid and generates its own energy from photovoltaic cells and a small wind turbine.

Due to heavy snowing during winter, the restaurant opens only for six months from April to September when it receives around 500 guests per week. The restaurant has a capacity to handle around 100 guests in its groundfloor and terrace restaurant besides one in the garden with apple trees and cherry orchards.

“People come here for adventure trips, mountain biking or hiking and stop for traditional German food. We generate all our energy from renewable sources as it is very expensive to get a grid connection at this site,” Dirk Behringer, owner of the Rappenecker Hutte, told IANS.

Like the restaurant, the story of its present owner is equally thrilling as Behringer, 57, left his fat package job as an accountant in a multinational company in 2003 to stay here with his wife.

“I have travelled across the world and as I was growing old I realised I want to retire and live in nature. So I applied for the lease of the restaurant and got it for 10 years. Since then I along with my wife live here in summer and we travel during winter,” said the six-foot-tall man dressed in a T-shirt and shorts.

The Behringer couple has employed no helper and does everything from cooking to cleaning at this hilltop restaurant which gives a picturesque view of the Black Forest.

There are not many dishes on the menu for sudden visitors.

On a routine basis, there is one vegetarian dish which includes fried potatoes with dense milk cream, boiled vegetables and fresh salad. The non-vegetarian dish includes fried potatoes with pork and salad. There are also options to pick from fresh juices, hard drinks and coffee.

“There is a waiting period for bookings for parties as many people now love to organise birthdays, wedding parties here,” said Behringer while busy cooking some fried potatoes.

All vegetables, fruits, dairy products and meat supplies to the restaurant come from farms in nearby villages.

For adventure lovers and mountain bikers, Rappenecker Hutte is a permanent stop during their trip.

“I come here biking often during summer and stop for an hour to eat something. It is a beautiful place and unique in itself for it generates its own energy using renewable resources,” said Tony Baumgart, a mountain biker.

(Richa Sharma can be contacted at [email protected])