Apple wine and green sauce are Frankfurt am Main’s most famous contributions to culinary history. Yet Mainhattan, as it likes to be known, has a banking community that hails from all over the world and must offer its residents more than flat cider and green slop.
Steak is a popular alternative, our research showed. Bargains, though, are thin on the ground in this cluster of high-net-worth-individuals with corporate credit cards.
1. Erno’s Bistro: Liebigstrasse 15, 60323 Frankfurt. Information: +49-69-7219-97; http://www.ernosbistro.de
What: Top-priced French cuisine in a Michelin-starred, cozy, wood-paneled two-room restaurant with seating for 35 and a terrace. Oysters, truffles, duck and pink champagne are among the delicacies on the menu. An array of French liqueurs, served with fancy chocolates and biscuits, end a sumptuous dinner.
Why: More than 600 mostly French wines and a savvy sommelier to advise you. Winning dishes including cream of chestnut soup, lobster lasagne, and monkfish in a tangerine and ginger sauce. The chocolate moelleux is a must.
Where: In the peaceful Westend district, 15 minutes’ walk from the Alte Oper station.
When: It’s quiet enough to focus on one other person exclusively and privately, whether a date or a business contact. A four-course menu at 125 euros ($180) per person is offered for tables of eight or more. Closed at weekends.
Bar: No. Take a 15-minute walk and grab a cocktail to live piano music at Jimmy’s Bar in the Hotel Hessischer Hof at Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage 40.
Private Room: No.
Sound level: Hushed.
2. Kameha Suite: Taunusanlage 20, 60325 Frankfurt. Information: +49-69-480-0370; http://www.kamehasuite.com
What: A restaurant and bar complex in a neoclassical villa with quirky furnishings and colored lighting. The Stage restaurant offers international dishes, ranging from quiche lorraine to king prawns, from spring rolls to risotto.
Why: The menu offers good value and something for everyone. A three-course meal -- served in three small portions all on one partitioned plate for speed and convenience -- costs 12.50 euros, including freshly squeezed orange juice, and is sufficient for lunch; the dish of the day is 18 euros. The menu changes daily and service is quick and pleasant.
Where: Central Frankfurt, near the Alte Oper and Taunusanlage S-Bahn station.
When: Ideal for business meetings. The Stage is spacious, tables are not too close together and you can survey other guests coming and going via sweeping stone staircases.
Bar: Yes, two -- one smoking, one non-smoking.
Private room: Yes, several lounges and the two bars are available for parties and special events.
Sound level: Buzzy.
3. Ivory Club: Taunusanlage 15, 60325 Frankfurt. Information: +49-69-7706-7767; http://www.ivory-club.de
What: Steak, seafood, and Indian fare adapted for European palates. The owners call it “contemporary colonial cuisine.” A pair of giant fake elephant tusks and flickering torches adorn the street entrance. Inside, peacock feathers and elephant carvings complete the picture. You pay for the pageantry: The wine, particularly, is pricey. Service can be slow.
Why: Your chance to meet tennis legend Andre Agassi, actor Mickey Rourke, or Formula One hero Michael Schumacher alongside bankers and politicians at one of Frankfurt’s glitziest venues. Try “X-Otic Caprese” made with mozzarella, coriander pesto and papaya, or the “Overwhelming Ocean X-Travaganza” with scallops and prawns.
Where: Next to Deutsche Bank AG’s twin towers in Frankfurt’s Westend -- the regulars walk there. Valet parking is available for those Mercedes and Porsches.
When: For business lunch and dinner. The restaurant gets packed, and tables are close to each other, so this is no place for confidentiality. At weekends it serves dinner only.
Bar: A handful of stools.
Private room: Yes, two.
Sound Level: Acceptable, but you’ll hear neighboring table’s conversation.
4. Oscar’s: Am Kaiserplatz, 60311 Frankfurt. Information: +49-69-215-150; http://www.steigenberger.com/
What: French bistro-style restaurant ideal for business meals and after-work drinks near the European Central Bank.
Why: Central location. Past patrons include former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and tennis ace Boris Becker. The wine list encompasses more than 70 varieties by the glass or the bottle, from German Riesling to Californian Zinfandel.
Where: In the 135-year-old Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof, a venerable, colonnaded hotel complete with chocolaterie and cigar room, favored by executives and statesmen. The terrace outside Oscar’s offers gluehwein by a log cabin in winter and a chance to hang out with the literati during the Frankfurt Book Fair.
When: The three-course happy-hour menu with unlimited wine for 39 euros (available from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and all day Sunday) is a good value. Prices on the regular menu are fair. Meat dishes include blutwurst, schnitzel and Asian-flavored duck as well as lots of steak options.
Bar: Yes. An elegant brass-railed, wood-paneled affair, often propped up by suits meeting after work over wine or scotch and salty snacks.
Private Room: No, but there is a side room suitable for group bookings.
Sound level: Some background music, quiet.
5. Steakhouse Buffalo: Kaiserhofstr. 18-20, 60313 Frankfurt. Information: +49-69-285796; http://www.buffalo-steakhaus.de/
What: No fancy menu. Service is brusquely efficient. Plain decor. Yet these are just about the best Argentine steaks in town, prepared before your eyes.
Why: Great steaks with no pretensions and Argentine wines to match. Buffalo has been around since 1973, testimony to its popularity. Connoisseurs order the bistek de carne picado as appetizer and limit side dishes to a tomato salad.
Where: Off Frankfurt’s Fressgass food mile, in walking distance from many banks and downtown offices. Use Parkhaus Boerse for parking if you drive.
When: For business lunch and dinner. It can be noisy as tables are close to each other and it’s usually full.
Bar: No. Try Apfelwein Klaus’s historic vaulted brick cellar next door for an authentic Frankfurt apple wine experience.
Private Room: No.
Sound level: Can get noisy.
6. Surf ‘N’ Turf: Grueneburgweg 95, 60323 Frankfurt am Main. Information: +49-69-722-122, http://www.the-steakhouse.de/surfnturf
What: Expensive, American-style steakhouse with seafood. Dishes include the “Surf & Turf,” a prime cut filet and half a lobster. Prices soar to 49.90 euro for the “Butterknife” Triple Star Filet Mignon. Lively, New York-style environment.
Why: Another carnivore’s paradise -- from the “Lady’s Cut” filet to the meat feast 650-gram Rib Eye. U.S. prime beef steaks come in all shapes and sizes, with a wide range of side orders, from tomato salad and spinach to truffle parmesan fries. The wine list is decent though pricey. “We are not responsible for steaks ordered well done,” the menu warns.
Where: In Frankfurt’s Westend district, a 10 to 15-minute stroll from the banking part of town.
When: Lunch and dinner. Booking recommended.
Private room: A room off the main dining room seats 14.
Sound level: Acceptable hum of voices.
7. Villa Merton: Am Leonhardsbrunn 12, Frankfurt. Information: +49-69-7030-33, or go to http://www.koflerkompanie.com/de/restaurants_villamerton.html
What: Michelin-starred food in a graceful, frescoed villa in a quiet residential street. This kind of quality does not come cheap: A four-course menu costs 85 euros; a seven-course dinner is 117 euros. The business lunch is reasonably fast (we took two hours for four courses) and cost 44 euros.
Why: Down-to-earth, international cuisine that highlights local and seasonal produce. Nowhere else would you get apple-wine cheese with yellow plums; sauteed filet with turnips and mussel stock; roasted and potted meat with escargot and white cabbage. It offers plenty of fish alternatives.
Where: In Frankfurt’s elegant diplomatic quarter, located in a private villa built in 1925 within its own park-like gardens. Something of a hideaway, this is the kind of place to celebrate your wedding. Try the terrace during summer months.
When: For serious business with clients who like things formal. Discreet enough for confidential discussions, Villa Merton offers food to impress even the fussiest gourmets. It is closed at weekends.
Private Room: The Union Club, which hosts the restaurant, offers private rooms for groups of two to 99 people.
Sound level: Quiet.
8. Zarges: Fressgass, 60313 Frankfurt am Main. Information: +49-69-299030, http://www.zarges-frankfurt.com
What: Franco-German cuisine meets burgers in a plush, intimate environment, surrounded by walls lined with books and wine bottles.
Why: Excellent cooking and ingredients, with a weekly menu and a wide selection of wines that can be ordered by the bottle or glass, including white wines from the Frankfurt region. Menu choices range from cream of lobster soup to salad Nicoise with grilled tuna; from cheeseburgers to blutwurst and sauerkraut. An in-house confiserie offers luxurious cakes.
Where: On Frankfurt’s Fressgass, as central as it gets.
When: For breakfast, lunch or dinner. Tables are a little too close to discuss confidential matters.
Bar: No, but the cozy atmosphere, extensive wine list and choice of spirits make it suitable for a drinks-only visit.
Private room: Separate, first-floor space that is for smokers but can be used for bigger groups or events.
Sound level: Buzz of conversation, not noisy.
(Richard Weiss and Julie Cruz write for Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are their own.
This report is the second of the 2011 series of Bloomberg Dine & Deal. The articles survey top cities and offer informed tips on good restaurants for business and pleasure.)