If there’s one dish that’s popular throughout Germany during the final two months of the year, one festive-looking plate of food best suited to the cold, dark nights that fill them, it’s golden-brown roast goose with braised red cabbage and dumplings. It may be a classic German Christmas dish, but goose and dumplings is also the meal traditionally eaten on the feast of St Martin six weeks earlier, so it can often be found on restaurant menus here from the beginning of November.
In the region in which I live, there are plenty of cosy wine taverns and traditional restaurants where you can order the fatty bird and its filling sides – in fact, you’d be hard pressed to find one that doesn’t. This is my pick of five of the best places in Wiesbaden and Mainz to enjoy roast goose with dumplings between now and Christmas; five of the cosiest, friendliest restaurants and taverns to be thoroughly cheered up in on a winter’s evening.
NB At this time of year, I’d highly recommend calling to reserve a table at these sorts of places in advance. If you want to share a whole goose with family, colleagues or friends (as opposed to ordering just a leg for yourself), you’ll need to call and order that ahead of time, too.
Zum Kapellchen, Wiesbaden-Frauenstein
Hidden away off the main road amongst the vineyards just as you enter the Wiesbaden suburb largely famous for its cherries, Zum Kapellchen is a friendly, welcoming restaurant in a lovely, peaceful location. The ingredients for their classic German dishes are as far as possible sourced from the region, and on the menu there’s information about the butchers, farmers and winemakers from which they’re sourced. There’s nothing fancy going on on the kitchen here: their focus is on high quality produce and simple, delicious food.
A roast leg of goose comes with red cabbage (which was sadly missing from my plate, above, last weekend), two enormous potato dumplings, a spoonful of cranberry sauce and a mugwort jus (18,90€). The wine list offers a selection of excellent local wines by the bottle or glass.
Quellbornstraße 95, 65201 Wiesbaden-Frauenstein
Reservations: +49 (0)611 41 18 99 12
Website in German
Sandwiched between garden centres and allotments, this quirky beer garden is in a rather unusual location on the way out of town, but that doesn’t stop it being packed in summer with people who come for the Treibhaus’ excellent food and relaxed atmosphere. Come winter, it’s the food and cosy heated conservatory that’s the draw.
The goose offering here comes in the form of a three-course menu (29,50€). There’s pumpkin soup with ginger, chilli and cardamom to start; roast goose leg or half a roast duck with half-and-half dumplings (Zwillingsknödel, bread and potato) and red cabbage with apple for main; and a dessert to finish. There’s an alternative main of sliced bread dumpling (Serviettenknödel) with chanterelle mushroom cream sauce and red cabbage for vegetarians (menu 23,50€).
Klarenthalerstrasse 127, 65197 Wiesbaden
Reservations: +49 (0)611 58 28 28 9
Website in German
If you fancy a more refined location for your goose dinner, head to the Wiesbaden outpost of the world’s oldest functioning brewery. With its high ceilings, chandeliers and long, wooden tables, this Bavarian-style beer hall serves very good, largely regionally sourced food – Bavarian and otherwise – in hearty portions, and at this time of year, Christmas decorations aplenty, it’s a wonderfully festive place to eat.
The organic, free-range goose here comes from Dithmarschen in Schlesweig-Holstein (northernmost Germany) and is served with caramelised chestnuts, braised red cabbage and Bavarian potato dumplings. There’s also a three-course menu available that includes a lamb’s lettuce and bacon starter and lemon sorbet with vodka for dessert.
Taunusstraße 46, 65183 Wiesbaden
Reservations +49 (0)611 205 90 35,
Website in German
Weinhaus Schreiner, Mainz
Of all the cosy wine taverns in Germany’s wine capital, Weinhaus Schreiner is my very favourite. It’s a little more formal than the other traditional pubs, but just as welcoming, and the food here is consistently excellent. Schreiner’s uses high quality produce that’s beautifully cooked, and most of their ingredients are regionally sourced. Their geese, however, are Polish Oat Geese (Hafermastgans) which are hugely popular in Germany; ethically raised birds whose production abides by the Slow Food values of good, clean and fair.
Choose between roast leg of goose (Gänsekeule, 18,50€) or breast (Gänsebrust, 24,80€), or call in advance to order a whole goose (85€ for four people or 100€ including a bottle of house red wine). All three options are accompanied by braised red cabbage, potato dumplings and chestnut gravy.
Äbbelwoi Schmidt, Wiesbaden
If you’re up for a rather less conventional (and potentially chilly) goose-eating experience, call and reserve yourself a table and a goose roasted in a wood oven at this relaxed, casual cider (Äbbelwoi, or Apfelwein) garden located where Wiesbaden meets the edge of the Taunus forest.
Schmidt’s whole 4.6kg goose, which comes with homemade braised red cabbage with apple, potato dumplings and red wine gravy, is stuffed with chestnuts, apples, bread, onion, mugwort and parsley (98€ for four people, 8,90€ for each person after that). If that’s a little too extravagant for you, there’s also a whole duck option for 45€. Advance orders only.
Bornhofenweg 17, 65195 Wiesbaden
Reservations: +49 (0)611 40 66 49 or +49 (0)179 69 28 742
Website in German