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Hockenheim Restaurants

Since we ate mainly frankfurters and ice cream at the racetrack, we had little opportunity to explore the gastronomic offerings of Wiesloch or Hockenheim itself. However, we did go to the following restaurants within easy driving distance-if you're Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari.

Frankfurter Haus

I love it when a local friend takes me to a place where somewhat batty locals serve enthusiastically local food to local folk. The night before the race, our Frankfurter friend Ralf and his lovely wife met us in this popular beer garden in the suburb of Neu-Isenberg for a crock of Possmann apfelwein (apple wine, €3.25 for a pint) and traditional Frankfurter dishes. Parking is plentiful, but only if you are a regular with a nice car. The slightly batty owner spends all her time directing parking lot traffic, and it takes some time for Ralf to position his Porsche to her satisfaction alongside the fleet of BMWs and Audis. Our rental Megane doesn't make the cut and is waved out to the street.

Once out of the lot, all chi-chi pretension drops away, and everyone sits at wooden tables under big square umbrellas drinking beer and eating big portions of honestly cooked food. Ralf insisted we spike the somewhat weak, sticky apfelwein with sparkling water, a dubious improvement. Their favorite dish was the classic boiled beef (Tafelspitz, €14.80) served with boiled potatoes, sliced carrots and celery root moistened with a ladleful of the hot cooking liquid. Bowls of sauerkraut and Frankfurt green sauce, which tastes somewhat like a green Tartar sauce made of chopped herbs and hard boiled egg, were served on the side. I felt the best dish was the spanferkelbraten, thick baby pork chops with a thick, super-crunchy crackling, served with sliced stuffing and rich, natural meat juices. (€13.90). They also listed hard-to-find dishes like roast goose and beers were €2.50-3.50. Desserts (average €5) included an excellent rote gruze or red berry pudding with vanilla cream and a very curious savory dessert called "handkäse mit 'Musik'" ("hand cheese with 'Music'"). This consisted of a soft, fresh square of cheese covered with chopped raw onion and caraway seeds and served with a tiny side salad. Go figure.

No culinary fireworks, but good-quality, old-fashioned food at a reasonable price in a historic inn and beer garden with a convivial atmosphere. Near a large park. This is a good stop for people driving down to Hockenheim from Frankfurt.

Contact: Frankfurter Haus, Darmstädter Landstrasse 741, 63263 Neu-Isenberg (just south of Frankfurt), tel. +49/610/231 466, fax +49/610/232 6899
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Rating: Quality 14/20, Value 14/20