The weather cleared up nicely this afternoon, so Bill and I decided to go to Wiesbaden. I read there was going to be a festival there, starting at 3PM. So we fired up my neglected Mini Cooper, put the top down for the first time since last year, and drove to town.
We actually got to Wiesbaden at about 1:30. I watched a lot of people walking around in costumes. Bill said there was some kind of Cosplay event going on… Glad he explained. I might have thought Let’s Make a Deal had made it to Germany.
We walked around a bit, enjoying the beautiful, warm, sunny weather. We passed a new looking wine bar that appeared to be inviting. But when we got to the end of the street we were on, we ran into what looked like an anti-vaxxer demonstration. We turned down another street and soon passed a new restaurant called Godfather. Bill said he’d just gotten a Facebook ad for the place, which opened on July 17th.
Since we didn’t have any other big plans, we decided to give it a try, even though I’m not always impressed by American style restaurants in Germany. The first thing I noticed when we went inside was the music. It was a bit loud, and consisted of a single female singer doing covers of somewhat recent hit pop ballads that mostly sounded like the same type of emotional song. The singing certainly wasn’t bad, but the tempo was a little depressing, especially for a burger joint. I heard the playlist at least twice through during our visit. I probably wouldn’t have noticed it or minded if there had been a mix, rather than just the one singer doing covers of songs like Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.
I looked on the wall and noticed there was an “Uber Uns” (about us) statement hanging on the wall. It read that the people who owned the restaurant were from Iran and had come to Germany because the husband was getting an education in engineering. They decided to stay in Germany and open a restaurant. The wife is a singer and a writer. Hmmm… sounds like we have something in common. I also used to live just north of Iran, in neighboring Armenia.
The restaurant offers burgers, fries, quesadillas, pizzas, snacks, and a full bar. Bill and I decided to have a round of beer, and I had the Philadelphia burger. He had a quesadilla. I got a choice of what kind of bun I wanted, as well as the type of patty. The waitress also asked if I wanted everything on it, which in the case of my burger was “salad” (lettuce), tomato, avocado, guacamole, Godfather sauce, and there was supposed to be cheddar cheese (although my burger didn’t have cheese on it).
Bill’s Washington Quesadilla had beef, mozzarella, cheddar, tomato sauce, corn, pico de gallo, avocado, and their version of Ranch dressing.
We also had a round of pommes (fries) which reminded me of what we might find in Belgium. We couldn’t finish those and took them home with us.
Overall, I thought the food and service at Godfather was very good. The staff was friendly to us, and the serving sizes were ample, as well as reasonably priced. The only thing I didn’t like as much was the music, which I found a bit sedate and a little too loud. They did change it to something peppier as we were finishing up.
I thought the presentation of the food was very nice, and noticed there was a lot of fresh vegetables. I think my burger was also hand formed, which is excellent. One thing I don’t like about German burgers is that a lot of times, they’re very tightly molded, so they aren’t juicy or flavorful. Not so at Godfather. I had to eat my sandwich with a knife and fork, because it was a bit messy!
I think we’d go back to Godfather. We had a good experience. I do wish they offered some Iranian food, since there are plenty of places to get burgers in Wiesbaden. I noticed they had a burger called the Tehran Burger, though. Maybe they’ll come up with some interesting twists of their burgers with Iran in mind… even though Godfather is meant to be an “American” restaurant. I won’t get the Tehran burger, because it has mushrooms on it, although I guess I could ask them to leave them off.
Below are some photos from today. We really enjoyed the weather. Wiesbaden is such a pretty town!
As we were leaving, the car ahead of us had trouble getting out of the newly refurbished garage. Bill was getting irritated by that… but then we ran into traffic due to the breaking up of a football (soccer) game. It was fun to watch all the men walking down the street with their plastic cups of beer.
We never did make it to the fest that prompted us to go out. I was thinking about hitting a wine stand or something, but decided I’d rather just come home and hang out with Noyzi. It was good to go out for awhile, though… especially since there were so many people celebrating life.
Maybe tomorrow, we’ll do something truly different. We’ll see…
I’m not sure Bill was remembering what today is, when he decided he wanted to go out for lunch. It’s Mother’s Day in Germany, just as it is in the USA. Having been a waitress in a prior life, I knew what that could mean for those who wanted to go out to eat. But Bill was gone for eight nights, and we were hankering for a date somewhere, so he decided to book us lunch at Rocco’s Italian Grill & Bar in Bad Soden.
We’ve been to this restaurant a few times, having discovered it, and the wonderful spa town it’s in, a few years ago on OpenTable.de. We love the bar in this restaurant, and when it’s nice outside, it’s pleasant to sit outdoors and people watch. Today, because of the clouds, I determined that I wanted to sit inside. I figured it would be packed… and it was very busy, but not fully booked.
Parking in Bad Soden is generally difficult. We made a few passes before Bill finally let me out so he could find a spot. He remembered where the relatively hidden parkdeck was. That was a blessing, as there were several spots open there. Lots of other people were trying to park at the same time we were and having no success. Bill said he saw a sign indicating that the parkdeck would be closed starting tomorrow through July. Guess we won’t be back to Bad Soden for awhile! 😉 We made today count, anyway…
We decided to eat indoors, mainly because I didn’t want it to rain on my new wool dress. Bill got dressed up, which meant I had to dress up, too. He wanted to see how his injured foot would do in dress shoes, since he’s going back to the office tomorrow. He seemed to do fine in his business casual attire.
As I mentioned up post, the restaurant was busy, but not totally full. Lots of families were out with their kids. A table near us was loaded with kids and a dog who protested a few times from under the table. At another table near us, I watched the young girl go to the bathroom about a half dozen times within the span of an hour. A couple of times, she took her mom with her. I won’t lie. That made me a little nervous, but it turns out there was no need. As usual, the food was top notch.
I had a 300 gram U.S. Prime Rib-Eye steak with a side of mashed potatoes. It was cooked to a perfect medium, and topped with rosemary. Bill went with veal spare ribs, which came with barbecue sauce and fries. We had a lovely Malbec and a bottle of sparkling water to help wash things down. Before we got out main courses, we had wonderful, hot, fresh olive bread with aioli and huge green olives with peppers.
If we’d wanted to, we could have had pizza or pasta, fish, burgers, or something vegan or vegetarian. But Rocco’s really seems to specialize in steaks and ribs. On prior visits, we’ve had other choices of ribs and steaks. They’re always outstanding.
I got some photos of our lunch, which culminated in delightful desserts. I had a red velvet lava cake with cream cheese frosting. Bill had an almond and cherry ice cream parfait. I normally don’t like lava cakes, but this one was different, as it wasn’t the usual chocolate.
I’d like to spend more time in Bad Soden. It’s a beautiful town, with nice restaurants and a lovely park. Parking can be quite a pain there, though, as we were reminded of again today.
I think lunch ran about 200 euros or so. We paid with a card. It was pretty noisy, mainly because of the young children who were dining. When the families near us left, the decibel level went down by about half. But everybody seemed to be having a very nice time. As usual, I can only recommend Rocco’s, although there are some other restaurants in Bad Soden I’m hoping to try.
Finally, it was Monday, the day we’d kind of been dreading. It was the reason we’d come to Stuttgart in the first place. At 3:00pm, we would be visiting our dentist, Dr. Blair, in downtown Stuttgart, for repairs and cleanings. After breakfast, we went back to the hotel room for a chat, and finally decided to go downtown at a little after 11:00am.
There was another reason to be a little worried about the day. Monday was the day transportation workers were on strike, protesting for more pay and better working conditions. That meant a lot of trains and planes would either not be going or were delayed. Since we were just going downtown, this issue didn’t affect us too terribly, but we did hear a lot of warnings about it.
We parked in the public garage close to Dr. Blair’s office and went searching for lunch. Stuttgart has a number of good restaurants, but not all of them are open for lunch, and quite a few of them take Mondays as their “Ruhetag” (quiet day off). I was wanting to try a different restaurant, too. We often end up eating in places near Dr. Blair’s office. I wanted to go somewhere else for a change, if only so I could report about it in my Facebook food and wine group. I like to be useful whenever possible.
After some time walking around downtown, we finally ended up at the Nesenbach Brauhaus, not far from the Stuttgart Markthalle. Although Bill and I have visited the Markthalle many times, we had never before dined at the Nesenbach Brauhaus. I wasn’t really wanting German food again, but time was getting short before our appointments and we needed to have lunch. Below are a few shots of beautiful downtown Stuttgart, including the festive Stuttgarter Markthalle…
The Nesenbach Brauhaus has a decent sized menu, which did include a lot of local Swabian inspired dishes. Naturally, there was beer, too, and other libations. We sat down at a corner table by a window, near a large group of ladies who were lunching. For lunch, I chose the “filled avocado”, which promised chicken and vegetables in avocado halves, drizzled with nuts and sweet chili sauce. I was a little hesitant about ordering the avocado, since sometimes “mixed vegetables” include mushrooms. But then, I reasoned, who puts mushrooms in avocados?
Bill ordered a “salad from the land and sea”, which included a small piece of salmon, a small piece of beef, Parma ham with melon, white asparagus, and greens. We were reasonably assured that his choice would be fungus free.
Well, the food came, and wouldn’t you know it? The avocado had mushrooms in it… We had to switch plates, because I can’t eat mushrooms. Fortunately, I liked the salad Bill ordered, even though it was quite an array of different things. I wouldn’t have necessarily thought to put melon and Parma ham with salmon and beef, for instance. Bill didn’t mind the avocado, although he said the mushrooms didn’t really go well, and the chili sauce was a little too cloying. Seems to me they should have paired the avocado with bacon or citrus, or something more like that. Oh well, at least it was an attractive presentation.
When we were finished eating, the waiter asked if we wanted anything else, like sweets or coffee. I just sort of smiled at him and, reading my mind, he said “Another beer?”
“Yes!” I enthused. “We have to see our dentist in an hour, and I want to be relaxed!”
The waiter laughed and brought me my suds, which I happily drank, then we paid the bill and walked to Dr. Blair’s office.
When we arrived, there was still a sign on the door requesting that everyone wear a face mask. However, most of the staff didn’t wear masks, and I noticed a number of patients weren’t wearing them, either. I suspect that by the time we see Dr. Blair again in the fall, the masks will be long forgotten. I know not everyone feels this way, but frankly, I hope that is what comes to pass.
After a short wait, I was invited to the treatment room. The assistant left me alone, and I decided I’d better go to the restroom before things got started. That was a good decision, even though she was waiting for me when I got back. I apologized, and Dr. Blair came in and commented, in German, that my filling was “kaput”.
“That doesn’t sound good.” I said.
He laughed and reminded me that the “kaput” filling was why I was there. Then, somehow, we ended up talking about our ancestries. When I told him I grew up near Williamsburg, Virginia, he said he had many relatives buried near there. I asked him if he was related to James Blair, who was a rector at Bruton Parish Church in Colonial Williamsburg, and whose name is on a number of public buildings there. He said he didn’t know, but his grandmother– last name of Warren– was from there. And then I realized that he was named for his grandmother, as his first name is Warren.
So then, they put a dental dam in my mouth, which is kind of a foreign experience for me, as most dentists don’t seem to bother with it unless the work is extensive. I mentioned that I knew about dental dams, since I used to study public health, which naturally led to a brief discussion about how gay men used to use them during the height of the AIDS era to protect themselves when they engaged in oral sex. 😀 I swear, I’ve never had this kind of talk with any of my American dentists! But Dr. Blair is not constrained by American conventions! He did mention that back in the late 80s, he worked in San Francisco and knew a lot of gay men who had lost people to AIDS. It was definitely a challenging time for his career.
As I tried to hang in there during the repair of my baby tooth, it occured to me that I am lucky to have such a skilled dentist. And I’m lucky that we can afford to see him on a regular basis, even though using a dental dam was vaguely kinky. It was a big relief when he was finished. Then, after another short wait, I was invited to get my cleaning done by the hygienist. She did an especially thorough job. I left the office with a noticeable brighter smile, although half of my mouth was very numb.
Bill’s cleaning went similarly well. Then he went in to get his filling repaired, as it had a tiny sliver missing. Dr. Blair said, “I don’t even need to numb you for this. It won’t take twenty minutes to fix this.”
Bill thought to himself, “Sez you…” but really, he didn’t require any novocaine. Dr. Blair worked his magic, and we were soon on our way back to the Wald Hotel’s bar. We’ll be back to see. Dr. Blair in early October. I will have to find a fun place to visit in the fall! We don’t need to stay in Stuttgart for that visit, since there’s no work planned.
While we were sitting in the bar, the lady from Vermont and her son came back. She said they’d buried her father that morning. They had a taxi coming, as she had plans that evening. During the day, they went to Ludwigsburg and visited the palace (a place I still haven’t seen), and her son, who is an arborist, found a reflective jacket that isn’t available in the United States. He said he managed not to buy the matching pants! The duo said they’d be flying back home on Wednesday, after a day trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a place we last visited in January 2018.
We decided to have a light dinner, so we wouldn’t be starving on Tuesday morning. I had a burger and fries, and Bill had soup. In retrospect, I probably should have had the soup, too. The burger came huge, on a pretzel hamburger roll. I liked the roll and the fries, but the burger patty was “machine molded and compressed”, which seems to be what Germans prefer, as opposed to hand formed. Hand formed patties are not so tightly packed, so they are juicier and lighter.
The patty was also seasoned, so that it kind of reminded me more of sausage. I like my ground beef “natur”, as the locals would put it. And finally, there were tons of condiments on the burger! Like– a really thick smear of mayo, a bunch of onions and tomatoes, and lettuce. My mouth was still pretty numb, but even if I hadn’t been, I couldn’t open it wide enough to bite into the burger, which was dripping mayo all over the place. I ended up having to eat it with a knife and fork, and finally gave up about halfway through.
Ah well… it wasn’t the worst burger I’ve ever had. And it did the trick of preventing me from getting hungry before breakfast.
We went back to the room and watched some German TV. We landed on a show called First Dates, which was about Germans who went to a hotel near Amalfi, Italy, where they had dates with strangers. There were several contestants, but it looked like the gay couple was the only one that found love. They were sent to Mallorca for water sports, too. I’m guessing the specific water sports they enjoyed didn’t just involve Waveriders and surfboards. 😉 I do like how German shows are less about violence, and more about love. 😀
On Tuesday morning, we got up, packed our bags, hauled them to the car, and had breakfast. Bill had to park in the “Tiefgarage” (which costs money), because the free outside lot was full of expensive cars for the businessmen who had converged on the hotel Monday afternoon. I was admiring my new white smile as Bill settled the bill, which was about 2500 euros. Yes, that’s a lot of money, but consider that we were staying in the suite, and we ate and drank a lot at the hotel. It’s still less than what we spent at Bareiss last fall, too.
Now that we’ve stayed in the suite, I can also say that I don’t really think I’ll need to book it again. I might go for the junior suite, which I think is a better room for us. Or, I might just go back to the superior room, which is a lot cheaper and has a really fabulous shower with mood lighting. 😀
Our drive home was kind of frustrating. There was an accident, so of course there was a lengthy Stau. But we managed to get home by the early afternoon, even after enjoying lunch at a NordSee in a rest stop. I resisted the urge to buy one of those obnoxious signs I noticed on the way down to Stuttgart on Friday. But maybe I’ll see if I can find one on Amazon.de, which would spare me some embarrassment. One other byproduct of our trip is a nasty cold sore, which I think was caused by stress. Either that, or Aunt Flow is about to visit for the first time in months.
As for Noyzi… he came through our short break just fine. Bill said he had to wait a bit before the clients ahead of him were finished getting their dog. When Noyzi finally came out of the pension, he almost knocked Bill over with a literal hug. I almost wish I’d been there to see that!
Anyway, so ends my latest series… Now it’s time to plan a real vacation in a country other than Germany! We might have to bring out the champagne bucket to help us make our choice. I look forward to making the decision soon!
We woke to a foggy morning, which made us less interested in going to a wine tasting in the nearby hamlet of Hofheim. We did need to go out, though… or really, I needed to go out. So we decided to stop by a Hofheim burger joint called Beef ‘n Beer, which is right next to a mall called the Chinon Center. Two hours parking there cost one euro!
The restaurant’s Web site tells me that there are two locations, the one in Hofheim, and one in Kelkheim, which is a place I have yet to visit. With a name like Beef ‘n Beer, we were thinking maybe they’d have a list of beers to try, but alas, the beer selection was not that impressive or expansive. However, the restaurant doesn’t take an afternoon pause, has a full bar, and offers a variety of salads, sandwiches, burgers, and main dishes.
We ended up having to search for parking, because a lot of people were out today. We managed to snag a spot on the top level of the parking garage at the Chinon Center, then it was easy to walk to the restaurant. An attractive waitress invited us to sit anywhere we wanted. She didn’t speak English to us, but I did hear her speak perfect English to another patron. I’m not sure he was American, either. He could have been from Sweden, for all I know!
I ended up ordering an Avocado Burger, which was a burger with bacon, cheese, onions, lettuce and avocado slices. Bill had The Original Australian, which was a sandwich on a sub roll with Argentinian beef strips, fried onions, tomatoes, pickles, and lettuce. Both sandwiches came with steak fries and cole slaw.
The Avocado Burger was good, but I couldn’t finish it. It also had a molded patty, which I don’t usually like the texture of, though it wasn’t too off putting at Beef ‘n Beer. Bill loved his sandwich. I think I might order that next time, or come hungrier and try one of the main courses. They have steaks, salmon, dorade, and even spare ribs.
I enjoyed the chilled out ambiance in the restaurant, which included comfortable bench seating and cool music. It’s also a dog friendly place. One guy brought his two dogs with him, and I almost tripped over his sweet black Labrador as we entered the place. In warmer months, there’s a small Biergarten area, too. Bill and I both commented that we expected more of a beer selection, but they had stuff we were happy to drink. I’m sure it pleases the local clientele.
Lunch came to a little over 36 euros, which Bill paid for with cash. He could have used a card, too, an option I see is spreading rapidly in Germany. For the longest time, paying with a card wasn’t such a common thing to do here. I guess COVID changed that somewhat.
After lunch, we walked downtown to see if anything was going on. We ended up stopping in a little hole in the wall Fair Trade shop, which offered coffees, teas, condiments, soaps, baby clothes, and wines, all of which came from Fair Trade sources. We bought some coffee, soap, almond butter, wine, and chocolate. How many times have we walked past the Weltladen without noticing? I don’t know, but I will make a point of stopping in again. They have some cute stuff! I love Hofheim, too. It’s a nice town.
Then we completed the loop around Hofheim and took a short rest near the Wine Chalet. For once, we didn’t partake of any wine. We just sat there, enjoyed the change of scenery and lovely cool fall temperatures and colors, as well as a little irreverent graffiti. I feel like I’ve almost missed the fall this year, as worried as I’ve been about Arran.
Speaking of Arran… below is a video of how he and Noyzi welcomed us home…
Wednesday, we’re going to Ribeauville, France for our 20th wedding anniversary. Originally, our plan was to stay until November 20 (Sunday). However, we were supposed to see James Taylor in concert in Frankfurt on November 8. He came down with COVID and had to cancel several shows. Poor guy has been stuck in Zurich all week… which is not such a bad place to be stuck. He was able to reschedule Frankfurt for November 19th. So, if the show is still going on next Saturday night, we’re going to come home a day early and see him play. We have second row seats, after all. Not sure that will ever happen again! If he has to cancel again, we’ll stay in France for another night. Either way, we’re paid up, and we have appealing plans.
This past weekend was a bit of a bust in terms of German adventures. Our dog, Noyzi, recently decided that he wants to stay upstairs with me, rather than hanging out downstairs. He’s co-opted a pile of bedding that was previously used by Zane and Arran. Arran still uses it from time to time. On Friday night, while enjoying my evening buzz, I decided to buy Noyzi a bed for upstairs, reasoning that he’d use his downstairs bed when he’s downstairs. I bought him a smaller one for upstairs, noting that the downstairs bed is huge and there’s less room for it in my office than down in the living room. It was supposed to show up yesterday, so we waited around for it. But then, at around 2:30pm, I got the dreaded message from DHL that the shipment was delayed. By that time, we’d already had lunch, and it was during the usual “pause” time anyway… so we just hung out at home.
Last night, Bill asked if I’d like to go out to lunch today. I said sure, so Bill chose a Latin American place called Buena Vista. He set the reservation for 1:30pm on OpenTable. This afternoon, off we went to lunch. On the way there, I noticed Frankfurt’s TV Tower. We parked at an expensive parking garage attached to a huge shopping mall, very close to Jumeirah Hotel, where we stayed November 16, 2019 to celebrate our anniversary.
When we arrived at Buena Vista, we were informed that lunch wouldn’t start until 2:00pm, even though we had reservations for 1:30pm. I also remembered that we ate at that particular restaurant in November 2019, when we stopped there for a snack on our anniversary. We had spent the night in Frankfurt to celebrate, then headed to Wroclaw, Poland for a week of business for Bill and a week of messing around for me. Since we didn’t feel like screwing around for a half hour and I wanted to go somewhere different, we decided to cancel our reservation. That’s how we ended up eating lunch at the Cafe Hauptwache.
The Hauptwache (Main Guardroom) Cafe has a long history in Frankfurt; it dates from 1904. Bill and I had been attracted to it on previous visits, but always seemed to get waylaid by the nearby Five Guys. Today, we were determined to give it a try. When we first walked into the Biergarten area– an excellent place for people watching, by the way– the sun was trying to come out. We sat down at a table under an umbrella. But within a few minutes of ordering drinks, it started to rain. We managed to duck under the porch, where there was a four top well away from the precipitation. It’s good that we moved, since the sky soon opened.
Our waitress was pretty perfunctory. She moved with no urgency, and seemed kind of half-assed about the work. She wore a face mask, but it hung under her nose. Her colleague didn’t bother with one at all. And thanks to the rain, all the smokers were huddled under the porch with us. One lady smoked the whole time, even when she had food.
One other thing I didn’t care for at this place was the fact that they have a Klofrau. That’s a woman who sits at a table by the bathroom and collects change. I’m sure she’s there for people off the street who just need to pee, but I find the practice of charging patrons in a restaurant to go to the toilet very chintzy. I also had to get an unsolicited tutorial from her on how to get the touchless faucet, soap dispenser, and towel dispenser to work. She might have done better to instruct me on the self-cleaning toilets. I’ve encountered them numerous times, but I never quite trust them to flush as they should. I’m not sure why a place that has touchless and automated everything needs a restroom attendant. It just seems cheap and tacky to me. On the other hand, I do have a ton of change that needs to be spent.
As for the food, it was quite good. I was very impressed with the burger. So many times, we have had burgers at German restaurants and they’ve been sub par. Cafe Hauptwache did satisfy with the cheeseburger. It came with cheddar, lettuce, mustard, tomatoes, onions, mayo, and I think ketchup. The fries were also very good. I couldn’t finish them, though.
This place has options for vegans and a children’s menu. It also has a full bar and apparently offers breakfast all day.
We considered having dessert, but the waitress was so inattentive that we decided to have another round instead. I had a Hefeweizen and Bill had coffee. I did see people having dessert, though, and it looked inviting. They have waffles with sugar and cinnamon or Nutella (blecch), ice cream, or the cake of the day. Today, it appeared to be cheesecake. I wouldn’t have minded trying that. Or, maybe it the weather was better, we would have looked for a Konditorei.
We called for the bill. It came to about 47 euros. Bill gave the server 50, and we were on our way home to two very excited dogs. Maybe tomorrow, Noyzi’s new bed will arrive.
Anyway… I would eat at Cafe Hauptwache again. We aren’t unhappy that we stopped there, especially due to its historic look and excellent location for people watching. The inside isn’t very big or impressive, though, so it’s probably best to go there when the sun is shining. I did love the music they were playing– 70s and 80s hits. I could hear it when the rain wasn’t pouring. I’m glad we ate there, instead of at the Buena Vista restaurant.
On Wednesday, we’re off on our next trip– a mixture of business and pleasure– four nights in the Black Forest town of Baiersbronn, where there are several Michelin starred restaurants, and a trip to Stuttgart to finally see the dentist. I did book us at what appears to be a very nice resort, so that should be fun. We also have a couple of reservations, although we couldn’t score any at the very fancy places. They’re either fully booked or on vacation. It IS August, after all. Hopefully, next week, the blog will get a nice boost.
We are still enjoying excellent weather here in south central Germany, so Bill and I decided to take the Mini out for a spin with the top down. We found a restaurant on OpenTable.de called Chicago Meatpackers where we’d never been before… Actually, it’s been ages since our last trip to Frankfurt, anyway. It looked like a fun place with an American vibe, although it also has outlets in Hamburg and Dubai. The menu is heavy on steaks, burgers, and sandwiches, although there are also a few other dishes offered, including several that are vegan.
We found a parking garage right next to the restaurant. It was kind of a new fangled place. We didn’t have to take a ticket when we entered, because the garage took a picture of our license plate. When we were finished with the garage, which charges one euro per hour on Sundays, we entered the license plate into the machine, paid, and the system recognized our plate as we were on our way out.
When we arrived at the restaurant, we found it almost empty. There was just one couple sitting on the terrace. We had our pick of where we wanted to sit, and unlike yesterday, we had no worries about Jaguars going in and out of parking garages. Chicago Meatpackers has a side terrace, where we sat, and another outdoor seating area in front of the restaurant. The interior is really nice, with lots of America bric-a-brac and a functioning train that runs at the ceiling. There’s also a great looking bar, but it’s closed thanks to COVID-19.
The restaurant has a full bar, as well as a lot of non-alcoholic drinks. They also brew two types of their own craft beers– a red and a blond. Bill and I each had one of each– large sized– to go with our sandwiches. Bill had a steak sandwich, which was served with slice ribeye, mushrooms, and cheese, as well as a side of fries. I had a Meatpackers’ Burger, which was your basic cheeseburger. It also came with a choice of sides, which ran the gamut from Caesar salad, truffled mashed potatoes, and several kinds of fries. I liked the burger, because not only did it taste good, but it also wasn’t huge. They do serve other kinds of burgers, too, including Beyond Burgers, and chicken burgers.
Service was basically friendly and very laid back, although there was no need for our server to be stressed. He had a light lunch crowd that only picked up about ninety minutes later, as we were about to leave. We mostly had the place to ourselves, and the food got out very quickly. It was hot and fresh, and of good quality. I was particularly pleased by the quality of the beef. Those with a large appetite may want to spring for an extra patty. The burger wasn’t huge. It was big enough for me, and easy to finish. I’m not stuffed, but I’m quite satisfied.
While we enjoyed our beverages, I noticed some of the signage near us. It seems like more and more signs in Germany are either half done or entirely done in English! I also noticed two Porsches today– both later model. One was red, and the other was bright yellow. Both were kind of obnoxious.
Business was slow enough that I was a little worried that maybe this place has a pause in the afternoon. It doesn’t, though, and we didn’t really need a reservation. Total damage was about fifty euros. I would go back and try one of the other dishes. I almost went for their spare ribs, but they were veal and I try to avoid veal when possible. The grilled salmon looked enticing. I might have had that, if not for the fact that we eat a lot of salmon at home. They also had some interesting looking chicken dishes and appetizers. Like I said, it’s a very “American” style place, even though it appears to be owned and staffed by people from the Middle East.
Today’s outing wasn’t particularly exciting in terms of things we saw or did, but it was nice to visit Frankfurt again. It’s been a long while since we were last there, and it was a nice trip for the Mini Cooper, which really needs to be driven much more often.
I don’t know when we’ll be back in Frankfurt, but I would certainly recommend Chicago Meatpackers. I hope the COVID-19 numbers go down enough so people can enjoy its indoor dining room, which is pretty nice to look at. The electric train alone is worth staring at.
Although we had wonderful weather again yesterday, Bill and I never managed to venture out anywhere. Instead, we stayed home and enjoyed our usual backyard wine and music. Bill also made a “savory cheesecake”, which was something I used to serve when I worked lunch shifts at The Trellis in Williamsburg, Virginia. The Trellis was started in 1980 and run by Marcel Desaulniers, John Curtis, and for some years, the late Tom Powers. Mr. Powers eventually divested himself of his share of the restaurant and opened a competitor, The Fat Canary, which is still running and very popular. When I worked at The Trellis, Mr. Powers was already out of the partnership.
Anyway, a savory cheesecake is a cheese based pastry… but it’s “savory”. It’s a cheesecake made with cream cheese and some other kind of cheese. In our case, we used Monterrey Jack and Cheddar cheese, but in Marcel’s cookbook, it calls for Dry Jack and Gruyeres cheeses and at the restaurant, they made it with cream cheese and Swiss.
While we were enjoying the cheesecake, Bill asked me if I would like to go out to lunch today. I said that would be fine, so we made reservations at Mangia, Mangia, an Italian eatery in Kronberg im Taunus, which is just on the outskirts of Frankfurt. Kronberg is right next to Koenigstein, which is where I had my birthday lunch in June, and not at all far from Bad Soden, a spa town that also has an Italian steak house and rib joint called Rocco’s Italian Grill.
Our reservation was at 1:00pm. We live about twenty-five minutes or so from Kronberg, so I had to hastily wrap up my guitar practice so we could get there on time. We needn’t have been so concerned. Although the terrace was bustling when we arrived, there were many tables available indoors. We decided to sit outside and enjoy the last days of summer before the weather turns to shit. There’s a parking garage very close to the restaurant, as well as an outdoor lot right by the restaurant itself.
Here are some photos from our visit.
Lunch was very good, although I probably wouldn’t get the Smokey Avo Burger again. I’m pretty picky about my burgers. Bill loved it, though, and ate what I didn’t want, as well as his own pasta dish. I think next time, I’ll go for a pasta dish or maybe grilled dorade or salmon. The pizzas also looked great, but they’re always too big for me. Despite appearances to the contrary, I don’t generally eat that much. I just drink too much. 😉
Service was a little slow, but basically friendly. I enjoyed watching and listening to the people around us. I noticed a lot of people who were there were Italians, which is always a good sign in an Italian restaurant. On Sundays, they offer non-stop service, though they take a pause on other days of the week. The inside of the restaurant is very modern and kind of glam. It looked a little like it was influenced somewhat by American tastes. The pizza bread burger buns are unique.
I noticed a young couple who appeared to be on a first or early date. They looked like they might be teenagers. It reminded Bill and me of when we had our first date, although we were well beyond the teen years when that happened. It’s hard to believe that this year, we’re going to celebrate our 18th anniversary.
After we ate, we decided to take a walk through the very quaint town, which reminded me a little of Ribeauville in Alsace, France. There are many beautiful half-timbered buildings and interesting architecture. I guess Kronberg was not too badly decimated during World War II. Here are some photos…
On the way back to the car, I noticed the garage had a pay toilet. Since I drank water and wine at lunch, I decided to spring for a pee before hitting the road. The WC wasn’t too dirty, but there was a lot of graffiti. Since I know I have at least one German reader who enjoys reading the public’s thoughts on things, here’s what was written on the walls. Who says Germans can’t be crass?
Kronberg begs for a return visit and further exploration. As nice as Hofheim was last weekend, I think I might like Kronberg even more. It’s a very ritzy town. Too bad we couldn’t take the Mini. It needs gas and air in the tires, which Bill will take care of tomorrow. Then, he’s off to Stuttgart to attend to business for a few days. Whoopee. Guess I’ll play Sims 4 and watch more Call the Midwife.
It’s raining cats and dogs today, and I needed to go to AAFES to pick up a few things. Bill has to go to Stuttgart tomorrow, so we decided to head into Wiesbaden for lunch and a little ‘Murican shopping on post. I kind of didn’t want to go into town because of the steady rain and unseasonably warm temperatures, but Bill was curious to see how our brand new Five Guys location was doing.
If you read last week’s post, you might know that we overheard an employee at Wiesbaden’s latest burger restaurant telling people that they would be opening their store on Thursday, January 30th. Bill and I have been to the one in Frankfurt a couple of times, as well as ones in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland. And, since I am a Virginian and we used to live in Northern Virginia, we have also tried one of the original Five Guys’ restaurants (the chain was founded in Arlington, Virginia in 1986), as well as the Five Guys outlets that have been springing up like kudzu all over the United States. The funny thing is, I distinctly remember reading back in 2002 or so that the Murrell family would never allow anyone to franchise their restaurants. Now, every time I turn around, a new one is opening. They’re probably rolling in money now.
Anyway, we noticed that today, there wasn’t that much of a line. The first time we went to the one in Frankfurt, there was a line out the door. I actually saw tables open, even though it was prime time for lunch. So, just because I do like a good burger and I wanted to visit this location before it turns into a total zoo, we decided to try it. Here are some pictures.
I was pleased to discover that the burgers we had today were just like the ones we’ve had in the States. In fact, even the pickles were right. Last time we ate at Five Guys, I didn’t like the pickles because they were sweet. Today, they used “spicy” ones, which aren’t actually spicy as much as they are sour.
I enjoyed the music playing– lots of decent rock from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, although it was turned up a bit loud. I told Bill that I wouldn’t enjoy working at Five Guys due to the noise, fast paced environment, and the extremely bright lighting. In fact, as much as I do like a good burger, I don’t even really enjoy sitting in their dining rooms because they’re so loud and bright. But I was pretty happy with the hot, juicy burger. The cheese was melted well and they got the order right.
Besides burgers, you can get hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, BLTs (bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches), and veggie sandwiches. They also have “freestyle Coca-Cola” with free refills, Evian water, and milkshakes. I saw a lot of people with shakes today. I might try one myself someday, although I would probably have to go there only for the shake. There’s no way I could have a burger and a milkshake in one sitting. I’d probably throw up from the excess. As it was, we didn’t even finish half of our one order of regular fries!
Some people complain about the prices at Five Guys. Our burgers were priced at 9,50 euros, which is admittedly higher than what you might find at, say, Burger King. But the burgers at Five Guys are all beef, never frozen, and aren’t loaded with way too much mayo. I don’t think we’ll go to Five Guys regularly, especially since I have a feeling it’s going to be super busy as it catches on in Wiesbaden, However, for the occasional burger, I don’t mind if I do… I hear Stuttgart’s location opens on Monday, so there’s no longer any need for anyone to make a road trip from down there to Frankfurt just so they can get their American style burger fix.
After we ate, we dropped by AAFES, where I wasn’t able to find exactly what I was looking for. I got what I could find, then got in line. While we were standing there, ready to pay, I looked over to the entrance of the store and spotted a young man wearing a t-shirt that read “Fucking Slayer” as he held on to a handle of a baby carriage. Then, as the cashier was ringing us up, she talked to the customers ahead of us, who were waiting on a price check. The man said the cashier was good at multi-tasking, and the cashier said, “Yes, I am surprisingly good at multi-tasking. When it’s slow, I drop shit.” I guess nowadays, people don’t even try to stifle what are traditionally known as “swear words”.
I am certainly not a prude when it comes to off-color language. I just thought it was kind of funny that she said “shit” out loud without batting an eye. That, and the guy’s profane t-shirt, reminded me of a time when a person could be kicked off an installation for wearing something like that in public. When I was a kid, certain clothes weren’t allowed to be worn… like, if a woman wore curlers or spandex in a shopping area on post, she might be asked to leave.
In my mom’s day, women weren’t even allowed to wear pants or shorts in the commissary or the officer’s club. Nowadays, when I go to AAFES, it’s like a live rendition of the People of Walmart. There’s nothing like a visit to AAFES to remind one of his or her ‘Murican roots. Ah well… I don’t really care too much about that issue. I just thought it was funny and interesting. As much as I curse, I would probably blush if I accidentally swore in front of customers. But I guess it’s not a big deal nowadays.
Tuesday morning, Bill had to get up much earlier to meet his bus, which departed at 7:30am. Because I am a dutiful wife and am used to waking up in the pre-dawn hours, I got up with Bill. We enjoyed another chaotic breakfast in the Sofitel restaurant. I’ll just say that every day last week, it was pretty much the same thing. Up early and waiting at the locked restaurant door at 6:30am, much like I did at Longwood College in the early 90s. The experience was eerily reminiscent of those days. The only things missing were the grits and biscuits and gravy, and a big, friendly, maternal black lady named Tina who called everyone “baby” and asked for their IDs. Instead, we had pretty young Polish women asking for our room numbers.
After breakfast, I came back to the room, did some writing, did some reading, and went back to sleep. I did this most days. Again, not so different from my college days, although back then, if I was up early, it was because I had an 8:30am class. It’s hard to believe I used to think that was super early. Now, I can sleep whenever I want to, but I’m usually up by 6:00am, despite having neither children nor a job.
Anyway, on Tuesday, I ventured to the Doctors’ Bar for lunch. It is just across the street from the Sofitel, and boasts some really excellent Polish craft beers. I am a beer lover, but when we were in Poland in 2008, I was not at all impressed with their regular suds. I tried beers like Lech, Zywiec, and Tyskie, mainstream brands that are probably akin to American brands like Budweiser or Miller. I concluded that I don’t go to the Poles for beer. Instead, I go to them for their vodka.
Well… I am here to tell you that in 2019, Poland has a rather exciting craft beer trend going on. On Monday night, Bill and I hung out in the hotel bar and tried a couple of the local craft beers made by Profesja, a Wroclaw craft brewery. I wasn’t hugely impressed by the Profesja beers, although they were better than the beers I tried in 2008. The one thing I did like was the cool label on the super strong dark beer I tried. Check out the picture below.
The Doctors’ Bar was pretty empty when I arrived at 12:00pm, and the pretty young server who looked after me invited me to sit anywhere I liked. They were playing upbeat jazzy piano music that I quite liked. I perused the menu, as the waitress said they had a bone in pork chop available. I ended up ordering a cheeseburger, although I noticed the pork chop was very popular. It was probably delicious. I should have ordered that instead. When the cheeseburger arrived, it was so huge I had to eat it with a knife and fork. Seriously… it was gargantuan! However, it was also probably one of the better burgers I’ve had in Europe. The patty was handmade, 100% beef, and very juicy, covered in mildly sharp Cheddar cheese and adorned with lettuce, onions, habanero mayonnaise, tomatoes, cucumbers, and guacamole. It also came with fries with the skins on.
On the day of my visit, Doctors’ Bar had eight draft beers available, again made by a Polish brewery. I ordered a Maryensztadt Klasycznie Porter Baltycki. Maryensztadt Brewery is located in Zwoleń, Poland, well east and a bit north of Wroclaw. I liked the two Maryensztadt beers I tried more than the Profesja beers I had at the hotel. I also tried the Maryensztadt Rye Oat Orange Stout, and enjoyed that one even more than the porter. Doctors’ Bar also has a full service bar and a large array of bottled beers available.
I had to walk off the lunch, so I wandered more around the city and found more potential venues for eating, drinking, and making merry. Wroclaw has a lot of interesting museums, a water park. an escape room, art galleries, shopping, and even a few activities for kids.
At about six o’clock, Bill came back to the hotel and we went out for dinner. Because I had such a huge lunch, we opted to share a rather plain buffalo mozzarella pizza at a restaurant called Bistro 8 1/2. Tucked into an alcove in the cluster of buildings in the middle of the market square, this tiny “hole in the wall” Italian place featured a very friendly waitress who sold us on a Venetian red wine that tasted of cherries.
Looking up this restaurant, I see that it has two locations. The one we went to appeared to be kind of a satellite location. The menu was small and, if I’m honest, I have had better pizza. I liked the crust, but the cheese was barely melted. This is kind of an issue for me, because I don’t like cold cheese. It’s a texture thing. But the waitress was so nice and the interior was so charming that I overlooked it. I wasn’t that hungry anyway. We did have dessert, too. Cannoli for me and panna cotta for Bill.
Ah well… we did stop by the hotel bar again, because there were some guys in there that Bill and I talked to the night before. They were also at the conference and commiserated with Bill about the ways of the Army. One of the guys is going to retire in about two years, so Bill was sharing his experiences. I got to say goodnight to a couple of cute dogs who were staying at the hotel. They made me miss Arran.
We had absolutely perfect weather today. It was so perfect that we were seriously considering going to an apple festival in Mainz. We decided to go to Frankfurt instead, since Bill discovered a new burger restaurant we had to try. A friend at a conference he just attended at Ramstein Air Base told him about Fletcher’s Better Burger, a chain in Frankfurt that was started by an American. At this writing, there are four locations, all of which are in Frankfurt. I have a feeling this restaurant will take off and there will soon be more places to enjoy one of Fletcher Davis’s juicy burgers.
We tried the location at Katherinenpforte, which is right next to Frankfurt’s big main square and just around the corner from Five Guys. There’s a huge parking garage located right next to the square. It was a bit of a mad house getting in and out of it, and we had to park on the top floor because so many people did a shitty job parking. However, Fletcher’s burger was so good, I didn’t mind it so much. Here are some photos from today’s visit.
It’s a pretty low key affair. They just have burgers (beef and veggie– made with peas), fries, soft drinks, and beer. The meat is fresh daily, and they make their own buns. Burgers come with tomatoes, onions, ketchup, mayo, honey mustard, lettuce, and pickles. You can also get jalapenos, fried onions, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, mustard, and grilled mushrooms free of charge. Irish cheddar cheese and bacon is extra.
Unlike Five Guys, Fletcher’s Better Burger only gives you one patty with a standard burger. Of course, if you want more meat, you can add it for 1,60 euros or 1,90 euros for an extra patty with cheese. You can also order your burger wrapped in lettuce if you’re watching your carbs.
I have to say, we were really impressed with our burgers. They were juicy, fresh, flavorful, and a good size. I also liked the cross cut fries, which were robust with potato flavor and cooked to perfection. I definitely think Fletcher’s Better Burger could give Five Guys some competition. I noticed they weren’t nearly as busy, either.
The only thing I didn’t like about our experience was the music. They were playing godawful dance versions of classic 80s songs, including “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman and a cover of “With or Without You”, which was originally a U2 song. I found the music very annoying. But we could have eaten outside, as they did have plenty of tables available. Also, the bathrooms, which are at the bottom of a flight of stairs (bad news for wheelchair users), could have used some attention today. We would still go back, though. It’s nice to see the humble hamburger getting better treatment in Germany.
After we ate, we walked around a small fest that was going on. We didn’t stay long because there were a lot of people crowded into a small space. But I did take some pictures.
People were selling gifts, crafts, and lots of food. I was disturbed by the number of stalls specializing in mushrooms… the one food I will not eat under any circumstances. Some guy was also selling mushroom lawn ornaments. Creepy!
I’m sure we could have found more to do, but Frankfurt was even more of a zoo than usual today, so we decided to head home so I could write this post. Tomorrow, we’ll hit the apple fest… or, at least that’s the plan.