The way to a man’s heart, they say, is through his stomach. Well, it’s the way to the hearts of most of the women I know, too; and it is, of course, most definitely the way to mine. The best date I ever went on featured a panel discussion on global meat consumption followed by a live butchery demonstration and a slap-up dinner at a private member’s club in London’s Soho. (Pretentious, moi?) Now, I’m not suggesting that you take your loved one to watch a cow being taken apart this Friday; my point is rather that if I was the sort of person who celebrated Valentine’s Day – which much to my husband’s delight I am not – I would be easily wooed with pretty much anything related to food. So if you’d like to spoil that special someone in your life with an culinary treat this Valentine’s, whether that person be a partner, a friend or yourself, here are my suggestions for a few local edible pleasures to suit every budget that I’d not mind being spoilt with myself.
High-end – with prices to match
Dine out like royalty with a five course set menu (145,00€ including a glass of champagne) at the Michelin-starred Ente in the Nassauer Hof Hotel – you can even surprise your dinner date with a personalised cake (16,00€). For half that, you could dine on the other side of Parkstraße at Käfers, the elegant yet surprisingly unstuffy restaurant in Wiesbaden’s Kurhaus, where live music and a special Valentine’s menu are on offer for 59,50€ (not including wine).
In Mainz, the Kupferbergterassen – a short walk uphill from the Hauptbahnhof – is offering a champagne reception, four course set menu and dancing till the small hours for the princely sum of 79,00€ – and it’s worth noting they offer vegetarian and vegan options, too. For other fancy dining-out options in Mainz, I’ve been reliably informed that La Gallerie, Am Bassenheimer Hof and Geberts Weinstuben are all excellent.
Mid Budget – romantic yet relaxed
If you’re really keen to take your Valentine out to eat at the Ente, their Bistro offers a (slightly) more reasonably-priced lunch menu and – if you’re careful not to let your date realise you’re choosing the cheapest possible option – a good value “Business Lunch” (one dish for 14,00€). For a Valentine’s dinner somewhere smart enough to make it look like you’ve made an effort yet with a relaxed atmosphere and rather more affordable food, I’d recommend Weinhaus Schreiner in Mainz for a cosy yet classy evening with excellent quality, hearty yet somewhat refined takes on traditional German dishes and a very good choice of wines (I’ve waxed lyrical about it before).
If you’re going out with friends – whether that’s actual friends or *cough* “just good friends”, I’d recommend Weihenstephaner on Taunusstraße. An apparently casual choice on first glance, this Wiesbaden version of a Bavarian beer hall in fact has a touch of elegance about it and the traditional German food will leave your dinner date impressed – though given the beer selection and portion sizes, possibly also in a food coma.
Budget – but still pretty fancy
Given that in this part of the country we’re hardly overwhelmed with takeaway food options good enough to subtly plate up and call your own, it’s good to know other cheap tricks to impress a date (or treat yourself) if you want to cook dinner at home but haven’t the time or skills. The fresh pasta from the Farmers’ Market at Dern’sches Gelände is very good indeed (the stall is labelled “Pasta u. Süß” on the map) and whilst you’re there, you could pick up some olives to nibble on, too. For dessert, I’m a big fan of the luxuriously indulgent Gü puddings that are available at various supermarkets around town, including Tegut and the Karstadt food hall.
In Wiesbaden’s West End, Vinicus stocks a good selection of Italian red wines from Piemont including Barbera D’Alba DOC 2012, which would go terrifically with pasta. If you prefer white, how about an unusual German cuvée, Hullabaloo, from Winzer Markus Schneider in the Pfalz.
To fulfil all your classic Valentine’s gifts needs on this side of the river, try Vinicus once more for a bottle of excellent Riesling Sekt (Raumland, from a selection, from 10,00€) as an alternative to the cheap German supermarket stuff or overpriced French champagne; grab some flowers from the farmers’ market (as above); and a box of chocolates from Xocoatl or a cake from Dale’s. Simple!
Where are you off to for Valentine’s Day? Having a fancy dinner? A night in on the sofa? Or will you be steadfastly ignoring the whole thing altogether?