For many years, Uwe Opocensky held the Hong Kong restaurant world’s most high-profile positon as executive chef at the Mandarin Oriental. He brought a new level of creativity and playfulness to that venerable institution (remember the flowerpot?) before moving to the Beef & Liberty group and now establishing his own eponymous fine dining restaurant. For this food itinerary, he chose to return to his birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany.
Germany is rarely seen as one of Europe’s great culinary destinations. Maybe it’s time for a reappraisal.
‘Germany offers a huge variety of regional cuisines,’ he says. ‘Through traditional dishes like dumplings, wurst, pastries as well as beer, Germany often seems the worst place to eat healthily, but in reality, restaurants offer foreign cuisine and neue küche (modern cuisine).’ In fact, Germany has the most three-Michelin-starred restaurants after France and Japan.
Opocensky adds: ‘Besides food, German wine is special because of its natural lightness and delicate balance of sweetness and acidity. Most vineyards flourish on steep hillsides, protected from harsh winds by wooded neighbouring hills, especially on the banks of the Rhine and the Moselle rivers.
‘German cuisine is well-rounded and is very good at preserving traditions, but also at creating some of the most creative and inspiring neue küche.’
This red and white boat that trawls along the Main river is all about Turkish kebabs, plus it serves some great grilled fish. What I love about this place is that it serves bargemen their lunch. It’s good, non-pretentious grub. meral-event.de/das-dönerboot
This space once housed the steam engines that operated lifts and cranes in the nearby port. It’s got a good story to tell and the food is amazing – both traditional and modern German recipes. restaurant-druckwasserwerk.de
This cafe dates back to the 1920s when intellectuals from Frankfurt University used to meet here. I really enjoy the apple streusel and other fine cakes and pies. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, this place should be top of your list. cafelaumer.de
Kameha Suite – Next Level
The restaurant is at the top of the grand staircase inside the Kameha Suite, a stately building that houses several sophisticated lounges and bars. Chef Christian Raudie’s innovative cuisine is perfect for those looking for an alternative dining experience. kamehasuite.de
This is a pub named after the novelist Eckhard Henscheid, who was part of the satirical movement called the New Frankfurt School in the 1970s and ’80s. Henscheid has a large collection of satirical cartoons on the walls and serves probably the largest selection of schnapps in town. I love the pig roast with vanilla, chanterelles and French horn mushrooms. If you want somewhere tourists don’t go, this is the place. henscheid-frankfurt.de
…And the rest of Germany?
Restaurant Tim Raue
Tim is a very good friend and I respect him beyond words. He’s incredibly talented and every time I am in Germany I make sure to spend some time at his restaurant. He deserves all his stars, accolades and titles. tim-raue.com/en
Victor’s Fine Dining by Christian Bau
Christian is another great German talent. I find his cuisine unique and innovative; and I always look forward to dining there when I’m back in Germany. victors-fine-dining.de/en
Chef Christian Jürgens is a great three-Michelin-starred culinary legend based in Seehotel in Rottach-Egern. He uses mainly alpine ingredients and is exceptional at mixing sophisticated and rustic elements. seehotel-ueberfahrt.com
Bullerei and The Off Club
Chef Tim Melzner does a great job at keeping things straightforward. He serves modern German cuisine without overcomplicating things. bullerei.com