Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mainlust “Desche Otto” – an Ultra Traditional Apple Wine Tavern, with an Innovative Twist, off the Beaten Track in Schwanheim, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with "die Claudia und de Louie" - Claudia Olinski and Louie Hoelzinger, Partners in Life and Business

I grew up with apple wine in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Although there are 3 beer breweries in Frankfurt and the world renowned Rheingau and Rheinhessen wine regions just 30 minutes away from Frankfurt by S-Bahn or car, Frankfurt am Main is a city of cider.

For Schiller's Favorites, see:
Schiller's Favorite Apple Wine Taverns in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Frankfurt has a large number of traditional apple wine taverns, where you sit on communal benches, eat hearty local food and drink sour and tart German apple wine. Typically, there is only one apple wine – the house apple wine – available, in some cases made on the premises.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller at the Bar

The apple wine tavern (Apfelweinwirtschaft) is as distinctive a Frankfurt institution as the Bierkeller is of Munich or the Weinstube of Mainz. Many of the best-known establishments are concentrated in Sachsenhausen, but others are dotted all over the city. They are strongly traditional. They offer hearty local cuisine, usually at moderate prices.

Overall, the various apple wine taverns do not differ that much one from another. However, while most of the apple wine taverns pour an apple wine bought from an apple wine producer, there are a few taverns that still make the apple wine they serve on the premises. Zur Buchscheer in Frankfurt Sachsenhausen is one of the apple wine taverns in Frankfurt, where the apple wine you drink is also produced on the premises. Then there are some apple wine taverns, where you meet more tourists and foreigners. These are very good apple wine taverns, which try to be open-minded to foreigners and tourists, while preserving the traditions of a typical apple wine tavern. A prime example is Adolf Wagner in the Schweizer Strasse in Sachsenhausen. Others are less accommodative to foreigners and more rigid in terms of how the place is being run. A prime example is Zu den 3 Steubern, also in Sachsenhausen. Louie likes to stop there for a "Schoppe" on his way home or to Schwanheim.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller, Louie and the Chef

Zur Mainlust “Desche Otto”

Mainlust "Desche-Otto" is a small and cosy apple wine tavern with a lovely garden, run by Claudia and Louie - in walking distance from where I live in Frankfurt am Main. Claudia and Louie's motto is "hard-core Hessian". They strive for the "not so usual", with delicious local fare with a modern touch, over 100 brandies (Louie's passion) and a  concert series during the summer months. In addition to the regular "Haus Schoppen" they have a second, special "Haus Schoppen" that changes when the barrel is drunk up.

The Place

Zur Mainlust “Desche Otto” is a traditional apple wine tavern, with an innovative twist. For many years, it was run and owned by Otto Desch, hence the name. It opened in 1890.

Pictures: "Schankraum"

Zur Mainlust “Desche Otto” is off the beaten track and thus belongs to the category of apple wine taverns in Frankfurt, where the share of tourists and foreigners is very low. Your rarely meet non-Frankfurters in this very charming apple wine tavern.

Picture: Garden Restaurant

In the “Schankstube” (Barroom) there are 7 tables for 8 to 10 people. On the wall, there is a picture of Chancellor Bismarck, which probably has been hanging there since the days when Bismarck was Chancellor. In addition, there is a nice and cosy garden restaurant, which is open during the summer months until 10 p.m. And then there is the “Tresen” (Bar) where people sit on barstools.

The Food

The food is typical apple wine tavern food, with the standards such as Rippchen mit Sauerkraut (grilled pork, sauerkraut and bread) and Handkäs mit Musik - a Frankfurt cheese specialty with “Musik” (oil, vinegar and onions).

There is no English version of the menu – only very few apple wine taverns have an English version of their menu. In fact, there is not even a menu in German! The menu is in “Hessisch” – the local dialect, suggesting to the guests what Louie and Claudia have in mind – back to the local roots.

Deckelcher - Frankfurt Tapas

A house specialty is the Deckelcher - Louie invented them. When you sit outside in the garden restaurant, people sometimes bring little wooden lids for the apple wine glasses to prevent leaves from falling into the glass.

Louie’s Deckelcher has the size of a lid and is something to eat - small sandwiches of the apple wine glass lid size, made from apple wine bread, with butter plus some sausage, pate or cheese:

Deckelchen with Hausmacher Wurst, Mettwurst, Presskopf, Leberwurst, Blutwurst Euro 1,40
Deckelchen with Schmalz Euro 1,20
Deckelchen with Solber, Senf und Gürkchen Euro 1,50
Deckelchen with rohem Schinken Euro 1,50
Deckelchen with Handkäs Euro 1,40

The Apple Wine

Louie and Claudia serve 2 house apple wines. One is always the same, the other one changes regularly, when the barrel is drunk up.

Schnaps (Brandies)

Louie likes Schnaps very much and has assembled an amazing selection of different Schnaps. You can choose from over 100 different brandies. I have seen that many guests like to finish the evening with one – or two or even more – of the Schnaps Louie has to offer.

Picture: Schnaps Selection at Mainlust "Desche Otto"


From time to time, the place rocks and rolls. Claudia and Louie like music and have a concert series there.The program for the first months of 2013 was just put on the web.

Apple Wine Tram Trip

Last year, Claudia and Louie organized an apple wine tram trip, which reportedly was a lot of fun. They leased an old tram, loaded it with apple wine and food and drove around in the Frankfurt city for an afternoon, including a stop at the apple wine tavern Buchscheer.The next trip is planned for end May 2013. Also, a similar trip on a Main Ferry Boat is in the planning.

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