I’ve noticed, during my time here in Wiesbaden, that the second a new style of café opens its doors to the coffee-craving masses, a string of replicas follow suit. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course: a bit of competition never hurt anyone, and where I’ve seen bubble tea joints pop up and collapse again in six months or less (and I still have no idea what bubble tea is), I’ve also seen a series of French-style cafés emerge – Bastian’s, L’Art Sucré and Maison du Pain to name but three – that have become successful additions to Wiesbaden’s popular coffee and cake scene.
With Du & Ich opening in the centre of town a matter of months after the appearance of café and co-working space Heimathafen (located near the train station), one might be forgiven for suggesting that a wave of Berlin-inspired eateries might be on the horizon. I suspect that in Wiesbaden, however, that may be jumping the gun, but in terms of more stylish, contemporary places to grab a bite or a hot drink in this town if you’re under 85 – or at least feel that way – things are finally looking up.
Du & Ich opened at the beginning of May, all concrete floors, fashionably muddy green walls and hip, youthful staff. It’s a bright, airy space with huge windows and great dangling bronze baubles for lampshades – even the Mini Dietz’s highchair was a stylish retro contraption in shiny black and red. The atmosphere’s laid back and friendly, with bouncy, enthusiastic staff who were a little slow, though I’ll assume that wrinkle has been ironed out since my visit (it was only day three of service). Du & Ich is the sort of place you’d meet friends for a leisurely drink, have a quick lunch with colleagues, or sit alone with a coffee and a laptop.
The menu looked promising – straightforward and carefully laid out – and the stacks of bagels in the glass counter and pretty plates of pasta that sailed past as we chose our lunches made me hopeful that my chicken salad (Hähnchensalat, 9,00€, pictured below) would be a diversion from the usual German variation on a heap-of-leaves-drenched-in-balsamic-cream theme.
Sadly, however, that wasn’t the case, and a salad soup was exactly what was laid cheerfully before me; pan-fried slices of chicken breast stirred into a melange of lettuce, shredded carrot and chunks of cucumber and tomato, all drowned in a thick balsamic sauce. How a team who had such a clear vision for an up-to-date lunch spot failed to devise a novel version of the depressing German salad I have no idea, but they’ve really missed a trick here. S’s chicken bagel (4,90€) went down okay, but the point of our complementary oil-drizzled toast was lost on me. All around us, however, that pretty-looking pasta was being hungrily devoured, and I rather wished I’d been able to order a plate of that instead.
Disappointing salad aside, Du & Ich is a very likeable place to hang out. It’s far from Berlin levels of cool, but it’s a pleasing step in the right direction for our quiet little corner of Hessen. One last thing, though: the ladies’ toilets. I’ll let my hastily-taken snaps (above, bottom right) do the talking because I cannot possibly do the tiled walls justice with words alone. Let’s just say that yet again, I’m left utterly bewildered by German interior design. It’s all too carefully arranged to be tongue in cheek so I can only assume it’s simply a massive error of judgement, though it does at least provide an entertaining trip to the loo – so long as you don’t mind your personal business being presided over by a handsome beardy chap in a scarf. Let’s just hope that no-one else in Wiesbaden replicates that idea.
Du & Ich