A few days ago, I asked Bill if he might like to go out to dinner on Saturday night. He was agreeable to my suggestion, so we went on OpenTable.de to see what restaurants were available. One of the very first suggestions was Riesling Stuben in nearby Hochheim, an adorable wine town located about twenty minutes’ drive from Breckenheim.
When I mentioned the restaurant to Bill, he said he’d seen that place recommended a bunch of times. However, we haven’t gone to Hochheim very often, because parking in the town can be a challenge. The first time we visited there was at Christmas time in 2018, just after we moved from the Stuttgart area to Wiesbaden. Bill’s former boss, who had lived in Hochheim, had arranged for a wine tasting and company Christmas party at a hotel literally steps away from his rental home. I remember thinking the town was absolutely adorable, but we had a terrible time finding a place to park. We never did get around to visiting the town again the following summer.
Then came the pandemic, which kept us pretty close to home for a couple of years. Hochheim is close to where we live, but we didn’t have enough experience with it to just go there to look around. We didn’t actually do that until last August, when we randomly showed up there on a summer day and stumbled across a wine stand. We had a couple of glasses and walked around. Once again, I wondered where Hochheim had been all of my life and why we weren’t hanging out there more often.
Last night, Bill was a little worried about parking, but it turned out to be a non-issue. There’s at least one lot where it’s free of charge to park. It’s on the edge of town, and maybe a five or ten minute walk from where we were going. The weather was gorgeous last night, so it wasn’t a hardship to stroll through the quaint village. We passed Bill’s ex boss’s former home, past the hotel where we had our Christmas party, and the winery where we had our tasting, and soon easily found Riesling Stuben. We were about twenty minutes early for our 7:00pm reservation, but decided to show up anyway, since I was hungry.
Below are some photos from our walk around before we got to the restaurant. As you can see, this is a place where German wines are produced and sold. It’s also very stylish, with lots of beautiful homes owned by people with money. I don’t think I would have been sad to find a home in Hochheim when we were looking!
When we got to Riesling Stuben, we noticed a couple sitting in the adorable courtyard. A large chalkboard with the word “Cheers!” greeted us, along with grape vines, and a string of lights. I easily spotted our table, as there was a sign with our name on it and the time of our reservation.
Bill went looking for someone in charge, but the proprietor found me before he saw Bill. I told him we had a reservation and pointed at the table. We sat down, noticing that there were faux fur outdoor blankets on each chair. We sure didn’t need those last night, although maybe they were provided to make the metal and plastic chairs slightly more comfortable.
It looked like the restaurant had a lot of reservations, as I took note of the signs on the tables. Not everyone seemed to show up, though. The 6:45pm table near us was never occupied.
On OpenTable, it said the suggested dress at Riesling Stuben was casual. Bill wore jeans and a t-shirt. I wore shorts and a t-shirt. We noticed the couple near us was similarly dressed. However, we noticed an upper deck, where more people were sitting. Some of those folks were dressed with a bit more flair. I mention the dress because the food turned out to be fancier, and frankly much better, than I was expecting it to be!
I read that the Riesling Stuben used to have different owners and its reputation had slipped somewhat since new people took over a few years ago. I once worked at a rather famous restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia whose chef owner was very well-known and liked. When that restaurant was sold, but the new owners kept the old name, a lot of people complained about how the quality had slipped and everything had changed. It looked like Riesling Stuben might have had the same issue; people who had been used to the old owners hadn’t liked the way the restaurant had changed with new people running it. But, since Bill and I had never been to Riesling Stuben before last night, we had no preconceived notions. And, as it turned out, we had a wonderful evening. I’m glad I didn’t read about the restaurant’s old reputation before we actually visited.
A young and sweet looking server greeted us and took Bill’s order of our standard sparkling water and a bottle of locally produced Riesling. Then, when she came back with our water and wine, we were ready to order food. I don’t often bother with starters nowadays, since I usually don’t have room and I don’t need the extra calories, anyway. However, I couldn’t resist the cold apple-cucumber soup, which sounded perfect and refreshing for a warm evening. And, since it’s now the tail end of “Spargel” season, Bill had the asparagus soup.
For our main courses, I ordered the smoked pork cheeks with herbed risotto, strawberries, and balsamic vinaigrette. Bill went with Parmesan encrusted corn fed chicken breasts, served with Romaine salad, smoked tomatoes, and tarragon “Schmand” (sour cream). While we waited for our food, we enjoyed bread with butter and Spundekäs, a locally produced cheese spread usually served with pretzels.
The server didn’t do a formal wine presentation. Instead, she just brought the wine out, opened it, and served me first. She looked like a teenager, so my guess is that she doesn’t yet drink wine herself. She might not yet know to offer guests the opportunity to taste the wine before it gets served. However, in spite of her youth, I thought she was very charming and did a very good job serving everyone.
A few minutes after she brought us our wine, the proprietor came out and checked out which wine we ordered. He spoke English to us, which was much appreciated, and apologized that he didn’t have menus in English. We didn’t need English menus anyway, thanks to years of dining out in Germany, and the availability of smartphones with Google Translate! Besides, although my ability to speak German is extremely limited, I do understand a fair amount of it when I’m paying attention. Bill can speak basic conversational German with confidence.
Here are some photos of the food… It was a real hit with us!
We both really enjoyed our dinners. I hadn’t been expecting the food to be as good as it was. Since the restaurant was called Riesling Stuben and the dress was casual, I was expecting more traditional, stereotypical German fare. I was pleasantly surprised, both by the originality of the dishes and the way they were presented. They tasted good, too, although I think some of the reason we enjoyed everything so much had to do with the weather and the cool “cocktail” music they were playing– think old school jazz, from people like Desi Arnaz, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra. Yes, I did a lot of “Shazaming”. In fact, I even downloaded an album while we were eating.
As you can see from the second set of photos, we did get some clouds, and a few raindrops. One party moved into the restaurant. Another paid up and left. We waited out the very short rain spell, along with the couple who was there before us. They were drinking a lot, and it was soon pretty obvious that they were friends of the owners, who even joined them for a couple of rounds. I felt like we were watching a dinner party.
After we were finished with dinner, we decided to order dessert, but told the proprietor that we would finish the wine before it was time for the Nachtisch (dessert). He took our order and left us to enjoy the rest of the Riesling. About ten or fifteen minutes later, we were finished with the wine. The waiter came out with what looked like dessert for us, but then he walked out of the courtyard to– I’m not sure where!
This was where dinner became a little strange, as the service went off the rails. We sat in the courtyard for a long time, with no sign of anyone in charge. I didn’t mind it at first, because the weather was nice, and the music was entertaining. But, after awhile, it did get a little bit awkward and weird. I was wondering what was going on. Finally, the guy came back and asked us if we were okay. We reminded him about dessert, and he smacked his head. He had forgotten! And he had noticed me noticing him with the desserts he carried out of the courtyard, but it didn’t occur to him that we were waiting for ours.
He gave us a round of dessert wine for our troubles, which was much appreciated. The dessert wine went well with my chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce, and Bill’s apple “Kuchle”, which was basically slices of apples dipped in batter, fried, and dusted with sugar and cinnamon, then served with vanilla ice cream.
I have had better chocolate mousse, but I really liked Bill’s dessert. The mousse would have been improved with less raspberry sauce, which overwhelmed the chocolate somewhat. I didn’t even taste the chocolate at first, until I got past the intense raspberry. I noticed that raspberry was a prominent ingredient at this place. All three of my courses had elements of it. I think if we went back, I’d have what Bill had. Unless, of course, they have the lemon tart listed on the menu available again.
I visited the ladies room while Bill handled the check. It gave me a chance to take a couple of photos on the interior, which is very cute and cozy! I got a kick out of the ladies room. I will warn that getting to the restrooms could be a challenge for those who have limited mobility. They are located up a creaky staircase.
We enjoyed an on the house round of wine liqueur as Bill paid the 112 euro check with his credit card. As we were about to leave, the people at the next table asked if we were on vacation. I said, “No, we live in Breckenheim. And we’ll be back!” They laughed and wished us a pleasant evening. We really enjoyed ourselves, in spite of the wait for our desserts. The waiter handled that situation with grace. Fortunately, we weren’t in a hurry, and the weather and charm of the place made waiting less irritating.
On the way back to the car, we passed a wine stand being held at one of Hochheim’s many Weinguts. I got a kick out of the vending machine, which sold wines and wine glasses. Sadly, though, one needs a German “Ausweis” (ID card) to make a purchase. I guess that machine is only for true locals! Oh well.
We were raving about the evening all the way back home, promising to spend more time in Hochheim, not just for dinner at the Riesling Stuben, but also to try other restaurants in the town and, of course, buy some wine!
Well… I can’t say our dinner at Riesling Stuben was perfect, but we did have a wonderful time. And it is a very unique and cute eatery. Atmosphere and presentation count for a lot. I do think the weather helped a lot to make last night so special. Regardless, we left Hochheim smiling, and promising ourselves to return sooner, rather than later.