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Dinner for one? Here’s where to eat alone in Frankfurt



Frankfurt map
  1. La Trinca, Sachsenhausen

  2. MoschMosch, Bankenviertel

  3. NeroUno, Bahnhofsviertel

  4. Sushi2Go, Westend

  5. Markets, including Schillermarkt

Walking through central Frankfurt on a busy working day, you’d be forgiven for assuming that in the evening its corporate crowds might descend from their towers to sample the city’s considerable culinary delights.

But while continental Europe’s financial hub is a bankers’ playground during daylight hours, it all but empties after dark. Older executives escape the city in convoys of blacked-out Mercedes to their houses in the surrounding Taunus hills, while the less well-heeled retreat to inner-city residential neighbourhoods, each with their own unique dining and drinking scenes.

All of which makes the thought of eating alone in the centre of town somewhat daunting, especially to those who, like me, dread the idea of meeting the pitying gaze of others as they spot the lone diner looking up from the glare of an iPhone screen in a restaurant full of chatty couples.

Hopper-esque solo diners are less conspicuous in eateries attached to, or near hotels, such as the Miller & Carter steakhouse in the vicinity of the Sofitel by the Opera, or the TNT — Thurn ’N Taxis Palais, which offers a lively take on German haute cuisine at the foot of the Jumeirah by the Zeil shopping street.

But while such locations offer a chance to shrink into the shadows, they are not immune from the malady that mars the dining experience in Germany — slow, surly or non-existent service.

Dining out in Frankfurt: rules for the new normal

Masks must be worn when you are not at your table, and you must fill out a form with your contact details on arrival. At time of publication, a curfew of 11pm is in effect for bars and restaurants.

This phenomenon, while easier to endure when eating in company, exacerbates the awkwardness of dining alone, forcing you to gesticulate wildly at waiting staff from a dimly lit corner of the room. It is especially problematic for those under time constraints.

My choices, therefore, were picked based on three criteria: the friendliness of the owners and/or staff, the accommodation of solitary customers, and the speediness of the service. Oh, and the food’s not too bad either.

1. La Trinca

Schweizer Strasse 14, 60596 Frankfurt am Main

  • Good for: whiling away the hours

  • Not so good for: taking along a newspaper or book

  • FYI: at weekends it’s best to reserve. (Website; Directions)

It’s recommended to sit at the bar and tuck into a delicious array of tapas . . . 

. . . and sample from the excellent Spanish wine list

I first stumbled on this superb tapas bar by accident, and have since discovered, to my astonishment, that it is not particularly well known among Frankfurters. Away from the main financial quarter, La Trinca is just over the river Main from the theatre district, in the relatively tranquil Sachsenhausen area. It attracts a lively mix of art lovers from the nearby Städel gallery and discerning locals.

You have the choice of sitting at the bar, where the vivacious staff will soon have you sampling their excellent array of Spanish wines. I recommend a Catalan coupage called Tramp.

Tapas includes Crema de berenjena con almendras, a sort of creamy aubergine dish, and salsa-drenched chicken thighs, both of which I cannot resist on any visit. An Iberian take on falafel is also worth sampling.

End the evening with a trademark brandy and, should you still be mobile, walk off your dinner with a stroll down the south bank of the river, which is mere feet away.

2. MoschMosch

Goetheplatz 2, 60311 Frankfurt am Main

  • Good for: friendly Asian fare

  • Not so good for: culinary snobs

  • FYI: it’s best not to sit near the till, where people periodically pick up takeaway orders. (Website; Directions)

Steaming bowls of ramen, prepared in front of you, are a steal at around €10 © Sabrina Dietz

Frankfurt’s answer to Wagamama is one of the most satisfying places to spend a cold evening within the city limits

Yes, it’s a chain, and not a particularly small one at that. But Frankfurt’s answer to British Asian fusion brand Wagamama is one of the most satisfying places to spend a cold evening within the city limits, and is devoid of the suit-and-brogues brigade that frequent other establishments around the Goetheplatz.

This branch, nestled in the shadow of the Norman Foster-designed Commerzbank tower, offers the friendliest service I have ever encountered in Germany, and the high seats around the central kitchen bay are the perfect refuge for solo diners.

Steaming bowls of ramen, prepared in front of you, are a steal at around €10, but my favourite dish is the salmon red coconut curry. MoschMosch has also become a haven for vegans, offering the Beyond Meat Niku Nashi, a patty made with pea protein.

You can modify your dishes to your heart and stomach’s content, and a full breakdown of allergens will help you steer clear of peanuts and the like.

Oh, and visitors to Frankfurt need not worry about language constraints — most of the staff speak perfect English, and English-language menus are furnished at the mere hint of an accent.

3. Sushi2Go

Liebigstrasse 18, 60323 Frankfurt am Main

  • Good for: escaping the city centre crowds at lunchtime

  • Not so good for: those craving variety

  • FYI: bring cash because the card machine can be temperamental. (Website; Directions)

Sushi2Go offers a wonderfully simple menu of made-to-order maki and nigiri . . . 

. . . prepared in minutes and served with more flair than you’d expect of such a small operation

This sushi bar is one of the best-kept secrets of Frankfurt’s Westend, but I was reluctant to bring it to wider attention, lest it lose some of its homely charm. Think the warmth of the bar in the sitcom Cheers, but in the form of a family-run, six-seater joint squeezed between a post office and a block of flats, with repeat customers on first-name terms with the owners.

If you’re after expensive, experimental sushi, you are best off down the road at Moriki. Sushi2Go does what its name suggests — a wonderfully simple menu of made-to-order maki and nigiri, prepared in minutes and served with more flair (all diners receive a complimentary amuse bouche) than you have any right to expect of such a small operation.

In the summer, an extra two standing tables outside double the restaurant’s capacity, but long queues are rare, even in winter. Pro tip: end your meal with a coffee at the nearby Petersen fine foods shop, which also offers an excellent selection of luxury chocolate.

4. NeroUno

Baseler Platz 10, 60329 Frankfurt am Main

  • Good for: a working lunch

  • Not so good for: dinner — it closes at 5:30pm

  • FYI: one of two branches, not to be confused with the one in Bockenheim. (Website; Directions)

NeroUno is ostensibly an espresso bar . . . 

. . . but its true attraction is its lunch menu

The rapidly gentrifying area around Frankfurt’s central station boasts some of the best spots for a quick bite, including the Hawaiian-themed Trinitii, mentioned in our guide to staying healthy in the city.

But for those seeking refuge from the rough-and-tumble district, NeroUno is a coffee-scented haven. Nestled in the inner courtyard of a couple of office blocks, it is ostensibly an espresso bar, and serves one of the best flat whites in Frankfurt. It attracts a mix of coffee connoisseurs and staff from the local IG Metall union headquarters.

Its true attraction, however, is the hearty “lunch station”, which offers a rotating menu of vegetarian and meaty staples, as well as lurgy-fighting soups. The ravioli, often available on Fridays, is of a quality that would put many a local Italian establishment to shame.

No one will bat an eyelid if you read or work, and if it isn’t too cold, the tables in the yard are secluded enough for business calls too.

5. Markets

  • Good for: sampling local specialities

  • Not so good for: keeping suits spotless

  • FYI: cash is king — very few vendors take cards

The Kleinmarkthalle is the beating heart of the Frankfurt’s culinary scene © Alamy

At the Schillermarkt, be sure to try the Riesling from Weingut Rollanderhof

The true Frankfurt solution to solo dining is the plethora of food markets that pop up in adherence to a strict calendar. The notable exception is the Kleinmarkthalle, the beating heart of the city’s culinary scene, which is open six days a week and offers everything from dried wurst to the best lamb köfte for miles (from Natural Floor).

But my own preference is for the Schillermarkt, which appears outside the stock exchange most Fridays. Seek out the legendary Gisela Paul’s white van, which offers the best version of grüne Sosse, Frankfurt’s traditional herb-laden green sauce, served over boiled eggs and potatoes. Wash it all down with a glass of Riesling from Weingut Rollanderhof, but make sure you get your last orders in before they head off, at around 6:30pm.

Where do you head to in Frankfurt for a solo meal? Let us know in the comments

For more pieces like this visit, read our guide to Frankfurt or follow us on Instagram at @FTGlobetrotter

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Thousands protest against French Covid health pass rules




French politics updates

Over 200,000 people marched in cities across France on Saturday in the biggest turnout of three consecutive weekends of protests, calling for an end to what they see as draconian rules forcing them to get vaccinated against their will.

They marched down the streets of Paris, Lyon, Marseille, and elsewhere, shouting “This is a health dictatorship!” and “No vaccination, no health pass!”, in protests that included a wide range of social and political movements. 

Staunch Communists marched with supporters of the far-right Rassemblement National party and some from the gilets jaunes movement against a new law making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for healthcare workers and requiring a health pass for anyone wanting to enter public places such as restaurants, bars and high-speed trains.

“This is an experimental vaccine, we do not know what all of the side effects will be for ourselves or our children,” said Catherine Largo, a 42-year-old dental assistant, who is legally obliged to get vaccinated before the autumn but says she will refuse to do so.

The vaccines used in France have been extensively tested around the world and approved by the European and French medical authorities.

“I won’t be able to find other work, because what else would I do?” she said, as she arrived at one of four protests taking place in Paris on Saturday afternoon. “We should have the choice, we should have the liberty to choose.”

Although the final version of the law was watered down last weekend, a vocal minority of French citizens remain up in arms about the rules which they believe infringe on their personal liberties. But despite the pockets of angry opponents, the policy has so far proved successful at boosting vaccination rates and has been met with approval from the wider public.

Over 60 per cent of people are in favour of the health pass to enter public places and 70 per cent support compulsory vaccination for caregivers, according to an Ipsos-Sopra Steria poll conducted this month.

Anti-health pass campaigner François Asselineau has tested positive for Covid-19 © AFP via Getty Images

Around 204,000 people marched on the streets of France on Saturday, up from 161,000 a week before and 114,000 the week before that, according to estimates from the interior ministry.

One protester missing this week was François Asselineau, president of the pro-Frexit Popular Republican Union party and an ardent campaigner against the health pass, who was unable to attend the march in Paris after he tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday. 

The 2022 presidential candidate said he was suffering from “body aches, fever and a cough” in a video posted on his party’s website, but told his followers that he had obtained ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as a treatment, both controversial drugs which scientists say have no proven benefit against Covid-19.

Macron announced the extended application of the health pass in the midst of a vaccination campaign that was losing momentum while the highly infectious Delta variant was spreading fast.

So far his decision to power ahead with the hardline vaccination strategy appears to have paid off. The number of first doses being administered per day has jumped back up to more than 350,000 after stagnating around 160,000 last month, according to data from the government compiled by 

France has overtaken the US in the proportion of its population that is fully vaccinated — 52 per cent against 50 per cent in the US and 56 per cent in the UK, according to Our World in Data.

Only 7 per cent of people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in France between May 31 and July 11 had been fully vaccinated, according to data released by the French government this week.

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Turkey’s marine crisis: ‘death knells are ringing for Sea of Marmara’




For a decade, marine biologist Nur Eda Topcu has fought to preserve delicate corals off the Istanbul coastline, which environmentalists say are threatened by the dumping of industrial waste, fuel and sewage.

Now she fears a new threat may hasten the end of the Sea of Marmara’s coral reefs. A gelatinous substance colloquially known as sea snot has in recent months choked aquatic life, blighted fishing and repelled swimmers.

Long brown streaks of the marine mucilage were still visible across the Marmara in late July, while the gooey foam sank below the surface settling on the rare corals. Scientists warn that the sea, whose mix of Mediterranean and Black Sea currents foster coral usually found at far deeper depths, itself is at risk.

“The death knells are ringing for the Marmara,” said Topcu after surfacing from a recent dive to clean the slime that coated normally fuchsia-hued corals off an Istanbul archipelago. “We can’t stop the mucilage. It’s smothering the gorgonians [and] infecting them with harmful bacteria.” She fears most of Marmara’s soft, red Paramuricea clavata, listed as a vulnerable species of coral, will perish this year.

Eda Eryalçın Topçu (right), Marine biologist at Istanbul University, and Serço Ekşiyan, of the Deniz Yaşamını Koruma Derneği (Marine Life Conservation Society) during a research dive in the Marmara Sea south of Istanbul
Nur Eda Topcu, right, and Serco Eksiyan, of the Marine Life Conservation Centre, during a research dive © Bradley Secker/FT

A thick layer of marine mucilage known also as ‘sea snot’ covers the surface of the Marmara Sea
A thick layer of marine mucilage covers the surface of the sea © Bradley Secker/FT

Factories have nearly doubled the deluge of wastewater they discharge into Turkey’s seas in recent years, according to official statistics. The 50,000 tankers that sail through the Marmara each year illegally dump waste and fuel, according to one municipal monitor. Almost two-thirds of the nation’s industry, including an oil refinery, carmakers, chemical plants and power stations, is concentrated in the region.

Most wastewater from Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, is only treated to remove solids, then pumped to the bottom of the sea. “We use it as our cesspool,” said Levent Artuz, a hydrobiologist at the Marmara Environmental Monitoring Project and author of a new book A Recent History of the Polluting of the Sea of Marmara.

The situation was not helped by the fact that sea temperatures had climbed by an average two degrees Celsius in the Marmara since the start of this century as pollution trapped heat, he said. A state project that diverted the Ergene River, one of Europe’s most toxic waterways, to the Marmara last year was “the tipping point”.

“The essential problem isn’t mucilage. That’s just a link in the chain of decades of degradation,” Artuz said. “We have zero chance of recovering the Sea of Marmara as it was. What we have to do now is figure out how to prevent the Marmara from harming us.”

Sea snot and pollution can be seen in the Marmara Sea
Long brown streaks of the marine mucilage seen across the Marmara Sea in late July © Bradley Secker/FT

The borders of the Marmara Sea, which has been heavily affected by the ‘sea snot’
Scientists and fishermen say the current flare-up is unprecedented © Bradley Secker/FT

In recent years, marine life has died in mass mortality events, and there have been infestations of jellyfish and algal blooms such as red tides and mucilage.

But scientists and fishermen say the current flare-up is unprecedented. Phytoplankton is flourishing because of nutrient-rich sewage and fertiliser from agricultural runoff while overfishing has wiped out populations of small fish and crustaceans that would consume the algae.

Gone are the mackerel, tuna, swordfish and other seafood that Istanbul was known for. This year’s haul was down 90 per cent from 2020 as mucilage clogged and dragged off nets, said Erdogan Kartal, the head of Istanbul’s fishing co-operative. “Even if we could supply fish markets, customers aren’t buying out of disgust.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, has vowed to crack down on polluters and “save our seas from this scourge of mucilage”. Thousands of cubic metres of the sea snot had been vacuumed up, the country’s environment minister said. In early July, he pronounced the Marmara “cleaner and bluer” than before.

Turkey is the only G20 country that has not ratified the Paris accords on climate change, and grassroots movements to protect the environment are often viewed as provocateurs by the government.

Authorities have refused to register a new Green party eager to fight climate change. Scientists also say that a planned shipping canal from the Black Sea to the Marmara could deplete oxygen in the Marmara and promote hydrogen sulphur gas that would envelop Istanbul with the stench of rotten eggs. Erdogan’s transportation minister argues that the cleaner water coming through from the Black Sea would improve the quality of the Marmara.

Along the way, there have been successes for Topcu and members of Istanbul’s Marine Life Conservation Society (MLCS). They secured protected status for the tiny outcrop of Neandros this April, stopping boats from dropping anchors or trawling for fish near its corals. They spent two summers transplanting fan-like yellow sea whips to Neandros after a nearby colony of the golden Eunicella cavolini was buried in debris from a government construction project.

“We carried them like a heart or kidney for transplant, keeping them in cold water and in the dark to prevent shock,” said Serco Eskiyan of the MLCS. It took more than 100 dives to harvest and replant 300 corals 30 metres down.

Eda Eryalçın Topçu (left), Marine biologist at Istanbul University, preparing her equipment prior to a research dive next to Tavsan Adasi
Topcu, left, prepares her research equipment before diving in the Sea of Marmara © Bradley Secker/FT

Eda Eryalçın Topçu, Marine biologist at Istanbul University, shows a photo from a research dive next to Tavsan Adasi, in the Marmara Sea south of Istanbul, after repeatedly applying good bacteria to the coral, to combat the ‘sea snot’ which continues to kill the sea bed ecosystem
A photo from a dive. Sea snot continues to kill the seabed ecosystem, clogging corals © Bradley Secker/FT

But Eskiyan, who has dived the waters off the islands since the 1970s and knows the area “like the rooms in my house”, was unable to locate the transplants in July, blinded by the sea snot that reduced visibility to a metre or two. “It looks like a different planet,” said Topcu.

A generation ago, the Marmara’s rich fauna included seahorses, poisonous scorpionfish and great white sharks, now all gone, though Eskiyan still occasionally confronts a rare angular roughshark when he hunts for “ghost nets” abandoned by industrial fishing boats that choke the corals. The MLCS has collected 32,000 square metres of the meshing since 2015.

“I have faith in the sea’s ability to renew itself from the damage people do. But now I question how much longer it can fight back,” Topcu said.

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Ransomware attacks rise despite US call for clampdown on cybercriminals




Ransomware updates

In mid-June, US president Joe Biden held talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss a recent scourge of cyber attacks against the US, including by Russian-based criminal ransomware hackers. 

Biden has said he told Putin in no uncertain terms that “certain critical infrastructure should be off limits to cyber attack — period”. Nevertheless, data show that ransomware attacks continue apace, including in sectors such as healthcare and education. It is unclear whether Biden will take further action in light of this. 

Ransomware, which usually involves hackers seizing an organisation’s data or computer systems and only releasing access if a ransom is paid, has long plagued businesses large and small. The first known ransomware virus, PC Cyborg, was recorded in 1989, with victims infected via floppy disk and told to send a $189 cheque to an address in Panama.

Today, these financially motivated hacks are far more sophisticated — and are proliferating fast. Attacks have quadrupled during the pandemic, SonicWall data show, partly because the shift to remote working has left staff more vulnerable than if they were connecting to more secure corporate networks. 

Chart showing that ransomware attempts reached an unprecedented level in 2021

Additionally, hackers have swapped demanding cheques for requesting hard-to-track cryptocurrencies, meaning that as the price of bitcoin has risen during the past year, the business of ransomware has become all the more lucrative. It is also easier to launch attacks with little to no technical knowhow, given the growing market for “ransomware-as-a-service”, where hackers maintain their ransomware code but rent it out to others and take a cut of any extortion payouts. 

While known attacks have reached unprecedented levels, the story of what we do not know — given that there are few rules around disclosure — may be far worse. Earlier this week, Bryan Vorndran, assistant director of the FBI Cyber Division and other cyber agency officials called for mandatory reporting rules around attacks, so that accurate data can be gathered and analysed by the US government.

Chart showing the median size of companies targeted by ransomware (number of employees)

Small businesses with little spare resources have tended to be the hardest hit by ransomware attackers. But the matter was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year after several audacious attacks on critical infrastructure such as the Colonial Pipeline, which led to fuel shortages for several days on the US east coast, the Irish health system and Brazilian meat supplier JBS. All of these attacks were believed to originate from Russia-based ransomware hackers, although the US government has accused Chinese state-backed groups of also orchestrating attacks.

The number of ransomware gangs stretches into the dozens and continues to proliferate as the economics remain so profitable. Vorndran said the FBI tracked 100 gangs, using an algorithm to rank them and the effect that each has on the economy. The largest one rakes in an estimated $200m a year in revenues, he said.

Chart showing that ransomware demands can often be negotiated down

To help victims fight the gangs, a cottage industry for “ransomware negotiators” has emerged. These middlemen are tasked by victims with haggling down the ransom payments. As go-betweens, they also collect data on attacks, learning the playbooks of various groups in order to best know how to speak to them. 

According to data from Coveware, the average ransom payment has fallen in the second quarter to $136,576, from more than $200,000 in the first quarter, amid an emergence of smaller ransomware groups. But in the majority of attacks — about 80 per cent — hackers are using the newer tactic of threatening to leak data as extra leverage in extorting victims. About half of these “leak threat” victims paid out in the second quarter, Coveware said.

Chart showing publically reported ransomware attacks on US healthcare, public, state or local government and schools, by month

Unfortunately, the negotiators’ services continue to be in high demand. According to data on reported attacks collated by Recorded Future, in the US there have been 10 attacks on healthcare, nine on schools and 10 on public state and local government groups during June and July this year. Despite Biden urging Putin last month to crack down on the criminal groups and warning against attacks on 16 critical entities, attacks on many of these key sectors have continued.

“The volume of targeted attacks on government organisations and enterprises that impact civilians, countries and the global economy will not end without a change in approach,” said Bill Conner, the chief executive of SonicWall.

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