One recent evening after work, La Scuderia, located in Frankfurt’s elegant Westend quarter, invited Berkeley Square Barbarian to try their four-course menu. The restaurant is very popular among locals but equally among well-heeled tourists, bankers, and travelling businessmen and -women. The Michelin Guide inspectors particularly emphasised the high-quality, fresh ingredients. Like all guests that evening, I was immediately welcomed by the lovely, energetic, and humorous manager, Ms Giebel, and led to my table. All the staff make you feel like you’re one of the many regulars, even if it’s your first time here. They’re very friendly but always professional and never intrusive. Different from nearly every other restaurant I have ever been to, La Scuderia don’t usually show their guests a menu or advertise the choices of the day on a chalk board.
Instead, Ms Giebel let me settle down with a small glass of prosecco, then asked me a few questions about my personal preferences with regards to food and wine, and made some recommendations, which I was very glad to follow. With only one exception: the first glass of wine, where I opted for the red variety, not the white one that was recommended, to go with the seafood (more and more often lately, I’ve been told by people in the know, that it is possible to have red wine with seafood and not face eternal damnation in the afterlife, so I felt like it was my day to take some chances and give it a try). As other reviewers have commented before, the wine list is very reasonably priced, and I was very pleased with my young but full-bodied Primitivo Merlot.
Prices are of course mentioned on request, but most guests do not seem to ask and simply expect a bill of roughly €70 to 100 per person, depending mainly on the choice of wine. The interior, designed by Julia Aulenbacher, is very pleasant and elegant, with a lot of mahogany panelling and wine-shelves, while not aiming to set new standards for style or to redefine ‘edgy’ like so many restaurants these days. There are many Formula One photos by Rainer Schlegelmilch and other depictions of the famous Ferrari racing team that lent its name to this establishment.
The dimmed light from lamps by German firm Serien and Italian mirrors from Galotti & Radice add significantly to the atmosphere. Red, the colour of fine red wines and Ferraris, is the red line that connects the different elements throughout the restaurant.
Highlights include the Scalamandre zebra wallpaper (in the cloak room) Ms Giebel knew from her visits to the famous New York restaurant Gino’s, which closed in 2010 after decades of having been frequented by celebrities like Jackie Kennedy and Frank Sinatra.
The relatively quiet, sound-absorbing surroundings appeared to work for the couple in their 30s on a date a few tables to my left just the same as for the Japanese businessmen and their German host a few tables to the other side. It is a big plus that most of the tables have been placed with generous space between them, so you hear some gentle background noise, but you’re not feeling like you are a part of everyone’s conversations around you.
For starters, I had a large portion of sliced octopus with green asparagus and potato. The texture and taste of the meat were just right, which requires plenty of skill with an animal like the octopus, that easily gets chewy, if the chef is not careful. Combining octopus with potato is common, I don’t think I had it combined with asparagus before, but it went very nicely.
Then the next course arrived, a combination of three types of delicious pasta: orechiete with prawns and zucchini, tagliatelle with porcino cheese sauce (given a zing by the addition of pepperoncini), and a traditional lasagne, amazing both in terms of looks and taste, and what a great idea to offer a combination of different types of pasta all on one plate.
With regards to the main course, I was very pleased I had followed Ms Giebel’s advice and opted for the grilled New Zealand lamb chops, even though I’m not usually a great fan of lamb. It was simply one of the best pieces of meat I had tasted in a while, not too lamby, just very tender and succulent and extremely intense in flavour. I also enjoyed the wine from the Piedmont region, that came with it. The meal finished with a lovely lemon sorbet with strawberries, raspberries, and other fruit.
This was already my second visit at La Scuderia. I intend to return soon, this time with my wife, Ms B, who will be visiting from London in December for a few days. Looking for some more restaurant reviews? Try here for Lafleur, Frankfurt, here for Gruvelageret, Spitsbergen, or here, for Leicester Square Kitchen, London.
(c) all food photos: Berkeley Square Barbarian; (c) all other photos: Julia Aulenbacher and/or La Scuderia.