I had no idea who Mr Diamond was prior to my stop-over in Frankfurt last week. He was an anthropologist and poet. But that’s not the Diamond this marble-clad fine dining restaurant in Frankfurt’s infamous Bahnhofsviertel is referring to. Stanley Diamond was also the name of a member of the Jewish organized crime, born in 1940, 14 years after Maxie Eisen was shot. The latter being the name giver to the pastrami bar, which Stanley Diamond’s – the restaurant’s – owners opened a couple years before just some streets away. It’s all a family business…
This connection travels from Frankfurt to Berlin, with Louis Pretty being the newest member of the clan. Shot in 1935, he’s now giving his name to a new pastrami bar in Kreuzberg’s Ritterstraße. Brothers James and David Ardinast, and restaurateur Oskar Melzer, the minds behind this gang of food places, have a liking for the stories around the so called Kosher Nostra. And a huge liking for luxurious retro-styles. Stanley Diamond is a gorgeous place, located in a new building, it looks like taken straight out of a 1960s movie. We were in awe of the dark green marble wall that’s hugging the dining room and bar, which is structured by a partition made of Chilean apple tree wood and furnished with upholstered chairs in salt & pepper tweed. First, however, the huge windows caught our eye, and made us believe we were eating in an original 60s building. Guests are seated slightly below street level, which has the nice side effect of passers by actually looking over the heads of eaters, instead of onto their plates.
What stroke me next is that they were giving me, the vegetarian eater, my own menu. This is so rare and I instantly felt very respected and taken care of. Stanley Diamond is serving à la carte, against the trend of fixed menus. However, they’re suggesting a four course menu of starters, soup, main and dessert and here’s what I had…
After a gin & tonic with a local quince gin, that was rather sweet pure but happily joined the tonic in a delicious mix, I decided to go for a classic – rapunzel, or Feldsalat, with horseradish dressing (9 Euro). Why would you use tomatoes, I thought when tucking into it, and was gladly surprised that the red quarters were actually pickled radishes. Alex Nixdorf, head of the kitchen, is definitely having an eye for seasonal and local produce, while not totally buying into the trend.
The light salad is followed by a creamy salsify soup with tarragon oil (9 Euro), whose distinct flavor is anything but shy. We’re using the time in between soup and main to study our surrounding. While we’re seated amongst financial business man looking type inside, the outside is more diverse. Across the street is a Chinese place called Traumgarten, next to it Apartment Residenz, all blinds shut, and Bistro Aschebr with windows of opaque glass, and metal bars in front of it. All not too trustworthy on first sight, however, James later gives us more background on the street, which used to be the centre of Frankfurt’s luxurious fur selling shops. The Ardinast brothers have worked in this street for years, their former burger shop and now production kitchen, Ima, is directly opposite from Stanley’s.
And while yes, Stanley Diamond is not a bargain, the prices are still below usual fine dining places, especially in Frankfurt, Germany’s money centre.
For my main, I chose roasted romaine lettuce with potatoes and Parmesan foam (16 Euro) – the plate (pictured above) arrived decorated with pink cauliflower roses and a generous foam bath. Reminiscences of 60s cooking, probably, but also serving the intense flavor palate the chef is going for. This food is certainly not subtle, and while the main ingredients might not promise much intensity, they’re charred to join the other elements: savory Parmesan chips and buttery white wine Parmesan sauce, creamy mashed potatoes and vinegary pickled cauliflower. Frankfurt is not for the light-hearted, you better show-off if you want to be noticed.
We’re finishing our meal with a take on the chef’s childhood – a Nutellabrot (12 Euro). Yeast parfait is topped with Grand Cru Carabie choclolate and a sourdough crumble. Thanks to my GDR-upbringing, my connection to the Nutella sandwich is not very strong, but I enjoyed this combination nonetheless.
Stanley Diamond is serving casual fine dining in a casual luxurious atmosphere – it’s been their goal to create an accessible and easy restaurant that serves creative and contemporary food linked to recent history. A balancing act between then and now, upscale and street, that is not only challenging but in the first place creating a very rewarding experience for guests like me.