Saturday, February 27, 2010

Feinschmecker's - My Down the Road Wine Bistro in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Nenad Baretic at Feinschmecker's in Frankfurt am Main

I spend my life in McLean Virginia and in Frankfurt am Main. When I am in Frankfurt am Main, “Feinschmecker’s” on Alt Schwanheim in Frankfurt’s suburb Schwanheim is my “down the road” Bistro. It is owned and run by Marina Meixner and Nenad Baretic, a charming couple from Schwanheim, who do most of the cooking and servicing themselves.

What people often don’t know is that (1) Frankfurt am Main is the city of cider and (2) Frankfurt am Main is very close to the Rheingau and Rheinhessen, two of the leading German wine growing areas, with many wine taverns and wineries.

In Frankfurt am Main, there are many cider taverns all around the city, where people sit at communal wood benches, drink cider out of Frankfurter Bembel (Mug) and eat hearty Frankfurter food. This includes the famous choucrute, Frankfurter Handkaes, Gruene Sauce. In the suburb, where I have my residence, the cider tavern to go to is the Frankfurter Hof on Alt Schwanheim, just a few blocks down the road from the Feinschmecker’s. This is a true gem – of which there are many in the different suburbs and the city.

Frankfurt is just 30 minutes away from the Rheingau and Rheinhessen, but you do not find wine taverns in Frankfurt, as you do for example in Mainz, where there are plenty of them. If you are in Frankfurt and want to drink Rheingau wine, take the S-Bahn from the central station or the airport and go to Mainz or the village of Hochheim.

Picture: Mainz Cathedral

When I am not up for cider or for a trip to a wine tavern in Mainz, my place to go to is the Feinschmecker’s. With a modern, eclectic look, Feinschmecker’s has a mostly Mediterranean menu. There is a communal bar with seats in the center of the Bistro, which I like very much.

Feinschmecker’s is a wine bistro and café that is open all day long. It serves a variety of breakfasts – including Italian, Spanish and French - in the morning, for Euro 5 to 7. For lunch it has, in addition to the regular menu, always two specials, such as a Spaghetti dish and a fish dish, typically in the Euro 6 to 7 ranges. In the afternoon, it is again coffee time. And in the evening, people come just for a drink or to eat dinner.

The food is cooked in a small corner of the Bar area. The choices are limited but excellent and include hot food. Feinschmecker’s offers a nice list of what Marina and Nenad call tapas, both cold and warm, which include olives, Serrano ham, dates wrapped in ham and large, juicy shrimps. The tapas are in the Euro 3 to 4 range. I like the various options of “Flammekuchen” a specialty from Alsace and the “baked potatoes” which are served with cream or other toppings. My Canadian friend always eats steak and he loves it.

Picture: Marina Meixner and Nenad Baretic, Feinschmecker's Frankfurt am Main

My wife typically has the Cremant d’Alsace, brut, a very nice sparkler from neighboring Alsace. I usually try a couple of glasses of the about a dozen wines he offers by the glass. The wine card is essentially comprised of international wines, both old and new world wines, including some German wines. These are no spectacular wines, but good, decent day to day wines. Don’t expect a Chateau Palmer or a young talented winemaker in the Rheingau, which is on the verge of being discovered,but the AC Bordeaux he has will be honest and good.

Nenad is a charming fellow, borne in Serbia, but as German as a German can get. My son lives in Belgrade and we always exchange notes about what is happening there.

From time to time I see people coming from the airport and I am wondering why not more passengers who have to kill a couple of hours do not come to the Feinschmecker’s in Schwanheim. It is 10 minutes by cab – without any traffic light.

It is clearly the most international and intellectual place in this part of Frankfurt – in the South-West, close to the Frankfurt Airport. Very often I meet people there with an international background and interested in a conversation over a glass of Spanish or French wine, such as my new friend Pierre from Canada.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Nenad Baretic, Feinschmecker's, Frankfurt am Main

When you come from the US, you will quickly notice that Germany is a bit behind in terms of the use of facebook, twitter and the web. So, don’t be surprised, if Feinschmecker’s does not have a web site. But they have internet:

Marina Meixner and Nenad Baretic
Alt Schwanheim 34
60529 Frankfurt

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