By Fatin Kwasny, Founder & Austin ambassador
Chef Florian Prelog and his wife Romana believe the best version of ourselves come out in places where we can relax—at their restaurant, it’s in the freedom of things like charting the pace of your meals, lingering over coffee and truly savoring the experience that European cultures value. When the couple came from Austria to open their upscale restaurant in downtown Austin last Spring, they paired the best in European food and drink with its relaxed way of life—for dining that reaches beyond our bellies and into our spirit. From the murals of European landmarks inside, to open-air patio dining reminiscent of Europe’s busiest squares, guests can truly sink into the artful cuisine and experience at Prelog’s, beautifully perched alongside a serine view of Austin’s Shoal creek.
It’s a place that reminds us of why we travel to explore Europe’s best experiences—offering a place to eat, rejuvenate and unwind, and all the while in our own backyard. In fact, everything about this European getaway in downtown Austin is about savoring the moment without needing a reason to. “There is a European style to hospitality that we strive to translate across the food, décor, kitchen, location and especially our team, that’s a reflection of our culture,” said Romana. “It was important to create a presence that truly carried an authentic European vibe, along with the passion and promise we want guests to come away with in our restaurant,” she explained.
From the eclectic menu and careful preparation to even the pace, Prelog’s maintains a European authenticity while appealing to Austin’s overall vibe. “Taste is like a heartbeat, and we wanted to create an unexpected experience beyond satisfying the desire for good food,” explained Chef Florian as he describe how they wanted the perception, or taste, of European cuisine to resonate in the whole experience guests come away with. Several of the servers have come from as far as Italy, Spain and Germany, contributing to the experience of feeling transported to regional Europe.
Largely inspired by his training in classic French technique, Chef Florian’s cuisine features a revolving menu, today displaying traditional and eclectic takes on Austrian, German, Italian, Spanish, and French food culture. “In our ingredients and preparation, we try to add an element of surprise layered on top of each classic taste of the European cultures we represent,” he told us. “For example, in Spain, you’d expect good pork, in Italy great cheese and olive oil, and in Switzerland amazing chocolate, and so forth from other countries, so we try to give a taste so that our guests feel like they could be sitting there or in Belgium, or Croatia,” he continued.
His team treats the preparation of customary dishes like true artists, wielding dishes as their canvases and food as their colorful palettes. Whether its their Austrian rollad served with red cabbage or a dish of pork prepared the Spanish way, French-style croquettes and vegetables in herb-butter or classic ingredients like Italian prosciutto, you’ll be presented an artful masterpiece while being encouraged to sit back and savor it.
In a city known for its live music and constant motion, guests can truly take the time to slow their pace at Prelog’s. From peaceful conversations, to courteous servers who don’t simply assume everyone’s in a hurry, you’re encouraged to enjoy your picks and then give your own cue for the check, which is customary in Europe. Whether you opt for a candle-lit table near the open kitchen, a family outing in its beautiful kid- and pet-friendly patio lounge, or for a coffee break with a friend, lunch or dinner, you’ll be treated to handcrafted meal or beverage at your leisure.
“In Austria, family and hospitality is very important, and so we want our guests to know us and to feel like a part of our family through the love and good vibes that we hope comes across,” Chef Florian shared of their desire for guests who dine with them, as they take each experience to heart. It’s that type of genuine concern that carries through from the products they use to the dedication in giving them a great culinary experience. In fact, family is so important that the whole Prelog’s family came from Austria to celebrate the opening of the restaurant last March.
Like you’d enjoy in Europe, Prelog’s patio is the perfect place for downtown Austin’s urban community to enjoy a coffee, have a meeting, or hang out—slow down, let loose, and have an iced coffee or cappuccino, and socialize. “It’s a mentality in Europe that you can jump in anywhere for an espresso, quick coffee or a glass of wine to socialize a bit, and then go,” shared Romana. “It’s different than the experience at Starbucks which has people lined up, the coffee culture here is about sitting to enjoy it, even for a few minutes, because that down time to yourself is important.”
That knowledge and appreciation of good food started from a very young age for Chef Florian. The family name used for the restaurant goes back many years to a legacy of grocers. His grandparents started what became the first grocery store line and an iconic brand in Graz, Austria, where he and Romana are both from. A passion for cooking and great dishes and restaurants was instilled in him from his mother, and his older brother, Chris, largely influenced his decision to pursue the hospitality industry. At age 15, the young cook knew he wanted to become a chef. After graduation from hospitality school, he went on to work in the cruise industry for a few years and soak up all he could learn about the industry. That’s where different cultures from around the world started to shape his impressions of food.
That’s why the menu at Prelog’s changes frequently, to spur further creativity and enhance the element of surprise. “If the menu stays the same, it’s as if it becomes dead rather than serving as a source of inspiration for guests,” Chef Florian shared. “We use the classics as a baseline to inspire other new dishes, so that when I go to the market and see that tomatoes or the fish is fresh and add it to the menu, the change becomes a part of the pulse that everything here is constantly made fresh and in-house,” he explained.
Before opening his own restaurant in Austin, he worked with well-known chefs from Austria and across western Europe to Scotland, before finishing national military service in Austria, meeting his wife Romana while they both helped to open a fine dining restaurant in Austria, and then returning to the cruise industry together. It was then that their dream for opening their own restaurant began to form. Today, Prelog’s European Kitchen & Bar stands as an impression of those experiences, rooted in the legacy of a good meal, prepared with great care, and ready to delight everyone in Austin with a desire to sit back, relax and soak it all in.