Features

Al fresco in Frankfurt

30 Jun 2009 by Sara Turner

Germany’s financial capital is home to a host of riverfront restaurants and bars, says Lucy Fitzgeorge-Parker.

Frankfurter Botschaft

Waterfront drinking and dining in Frankfurt has changed dramatically in the past decade, from grotty beer gardens and tourist boats to chic eateries in sleek glass and steel structures. One of the most popular of the new arrivals is this unpretentious venue at the foot of the Westhafen Tower, overlooking the old dock, now a tiny marina surrounded by upmarket flats.

The airy dining room and light, Asian-influenced cuisine are a draw all year round, and in summer the sunny terrace attracts a big after-work crowd – like most of the city’s smart eateries, Frankfurter Botschaft offers a quick lunchtime menu (from €11) for time-pressed workers and goes à la carte in the evening.

Other highlights of the Westhafen complex include Chalet Multilounge, another trendy bar-restaurant but without the waterfront location, and a small glass-sided bar in the marina.

Westhafenplatz 6-8; tel +49 692 400 4899; frankfurter-botschaft.de

Open 10am-1am (Fri-Sat 1.30am, Sun until 6.30pm); business lunch 12-3pm, à la carte from 6pm.

Nizza am Main

Built on the site of an avant-garde art venue, this elegant three-storey structure has had mixed fortunes as a restaurant, having changed hands twice since it opened five years ago. The present managers seems to be doing something right, judging by the lines of workers queuing for the lunchtime buffet (€12.50 for three courses) and a place on the first-floor terrace.

This summer sees the reopening of the outside space as a wine and cocktail garden, with twice-weekly barbecues on Wednesdays and Saturdays. As this tiny area on the north bank of the River Main has its own balmier microclimate, it’s a great spot for enjoying the river views.

Untermainkai 17; tel +49 692 695 2922; nizzamain.de

Open 11.30am-late. Mon-Fri buffet lunch 11.30am-2.30pm, coffee and cakes 2.30pm-5pm, dinner from 6pm.

Leon Garcias am Main

You’re never far from a tapas bar in Frankfurt, but for the most part the fare tends to be of the greasy, fat-inducing variety. This mini-chain is the honourable exception, offering genuine Spanish cuisine made with ultra-fresh ingredients and served with a unique range of regional wines.

The first branch opened nine years ago in Offenbach and has spawned two successors, one in trendy Bergerstrasse in the north-east of the city and the other in this spacious square below the Main Plaza tower on the south bank of the river. Choose between a shady table and a sunny deckchair and enjoy a glass of light red from the restaurant’s own vineyard in Rioja or a crisp Galician white made with the local Albarino grape.

A mixed tapas plate costs €14.50, and the menu is also supplemented by a full range of Spanish dishes, including paella and a fragrant rabbit in Rioja.

Walther-von-Cronberg-Platz 1; tel +49 696 032 9877; leon-garcias.de

Open 10am-late

Biancalani

Two restaurants, one bar and a tiny beach boat make up this high-end Italian venue, which is owned by a Tuscan artist. Head chef Giuseppe has been in charge since it opened six years ago and presides over both eateries – fine-dining option Cucina, which shares a shady outside area with the main bar, and the cosy, brick-walled Eno, which serves food alla mamma.

Fans of Italy’s regional grape varieties will love the extensive wine list in both venues, and if you’re visiting near the end of the month, look out for Eno’s wine-tasting evenings (five courses, wine, water and espresso for €35, booking advised).

The main bar has a smoking lounge in the back and is great for pre-dinner cocktails, while on the riverbank, the shore-based boat Barca dispenses soft drinks, beers and Campari until 4am, weather permitting, as well as mouth-watering Italian picnic baskets for €15.50.

Walther-von-Cronberg-Platz 7-9; tel +49 696 897 7615; biancalani.de

Cucina: open Mon-Fri 12-3pm (two-course “servizio rapido” menu costs €9.70), 6pm-1am à la carte; Sat 6pm-1am; Sun 4-10pm.

Eno: open Tue-Sat 5pm-1am.

Bar: open Mon-Sat 6pm-late.

Gerbermuhle

Heading still further east along the river, you will come to one of Frankfurt’s most famous buildings, the Gerbermuhle. Dating back to the 16th century, this former flourmill was a favourite haunt of German writer Goethe, and its recent conversion into a boutique design hotel has horrified literary locals.

Less sensitive visitors are likely to be charmed by the hotel’s peaceful setting, rustic-chic bar and restaurant, and especially by the huge summer garden at the back, possibly the city’s most civilised riverside drinking venue. This is a good place to try local specialities such as apfelwein (mix with mineral water for a refreshing summer drink) and handkas mit musik, a marinated curd cheese with onions that tastes better than it sounds. Bar snacks cost €5-11.

Wifi is free, so bring your laptop and mix business with pleasure as the sun goes down.

Gerbermuhlstrasse 105; tel +49 696 897 7790; gerbermuehle.de

Restaurant open 6.30am-11pm; bar open 5pm-1am (3am Fri-Sat). Summer garden open mid-April to September 12pm-11pm, depending on weather.

Brazil Cocktail Bar

For an antidote to Frankfurt’s pervasive corporate culture, you can’t beat this low-key and wildly popular waterside hangout. Lounge in a smart green deckchair at the river’s edge and soak up the last of the sun while sipping an ice-cold beer to a soundtrack of chilled Brazilian beats.

Now in its sixth year, the mobile bar started life as a pit-stop for riverside runners, bladers and bikers, and there are still plenty of healthy juice options and non-alcoholic cocktails on offer, as well as traditional Brazilian salgadinhos bar snacks. The location is idyllic – a quiet, leafy corner of the embankment to the east of Main Plaza – but be aware that this is a fair-weather venue, so if it’s cloudy, windy or chilly, the chances are it won’t be here. If in doubt, check the website.

Deutschherrenufer, Frankfurt am Main; tel +49 175 343 0440; brasil-cocktailbar.de

Open April to October, weekdays 5pm-1am, weekends 1pm-1am.

HOTEL NEWS

Local boutique specialists Micky Rosen and Alex Urseanu – the team behind hotels Gerbermuehle, and Bristol and Pure – have recently opened a 117-room property. Roomers, a member of Design Hotels, is located just south of the central station in an old office block. Targeted at the high-end corporate male, it has a smoky bar, black-on-black room fittings and a rooftop spa.

Starwood’s 371-room Westin Grand on Konrad-Adenauer-Strasse, which opened last year, is the most recent major addition from the international chains. Hilton will have two new hotels at the airport by April 2010 (one from the group’s core brand and one Garden Inn), Jumeirah is due to open a 219-room property in the nearly completed Palais Quarter development next summer, and a 405-room Grand Hyatt is scheduled to open in the new Europaviertel district in the west of the city the following year.

GETTING THERE

Lufthansa has ten daily flights to Frankfurt from London Heathrow, and Lufthansa Cityline flies four times a day from London City. British Airways flies from Heathrow up to seven times a day. Ryanair flies from London Stansted to Frankfurt Hahn four times a day (three times on Tuesdays and Wednesdays).

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