Restaurants that are different create memories. They can be different in many ways. Max At One is the main eating place at The Jumeirah Frankfurt Hotel – run, like Jumeirah Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi, by an Alpha-female German, in this case the lovely Dagmar Woodward. It, the restaurant not the rest of this luxury hotel, is designed by Super Potato’s Takashi Sugimoto to be a C-shaped lifestyle place that flows. In one of the inner corners of the C you are looking at an ageing cabinet, where whole sides of fat-covered Zimmenthaler beef are dry-aged for five weeks. To the right of the gal as she stands admiring all this is the kitchen.
The open kitchen, masterminded by Austrian master chef Martin Steiner, occupies one whole arm of the C. It is a complete working kitchen, everything is done here. At dinner you can see them preparing, say, your amuse of new-style blood sausage with potato foam, or Martin Steiner’s version of foie gras (an artistic presentation of squares of foie gras with a Swiss-roll slice, pink and natural sponge). At breakfast, this is where chefs in full whites, with tall toques, cook your pancake, or whatever.
For breakfast, three of the restaurant’s wood tables become buffet stations, for help yourself while looking across at one entire wall where Sugimoto-san has stacked white china right up to the ceiling – you can see a similar use of china-as-decoration in W Hong Kong. The buffet is really strong on health juices and smoothies, including a could-be-addictive mango yoghurt drink, Andechser Natur Bio Lassi Premium. I do wonder why the toasting breads are an inch thick but, frankly, anyone who has worked out in the bootcamp-type serious gym that the hotel uses has probably spent over a thousand calories.
Here is another lovely touch. One breakfast buffet table has, next to the standing honeycomb (to right of photo), an iPad showing a nonstop video of bees and the four beehives on the hotel’s rooftops working furiously to produce all the honey. Wonder what the bees thought if abseilers were climbing around them May 25-26, 2013, when Frankfurt held its Skyscraper Festival? Nine of Germany’s top ten buildings are here in Frankfurt. Bring thoughts back to this great hotel….I remember lovely touches, too, at dinner last night, when the hotel’s Spanish sommelier introduced me to one of his favourites, Adeneuer Walphoszeimer Gärhammer 2008 Pinot Noir, which he served from one of those amazingly delicate Riedel ‘swan carafes’.
There was a wedding party at one end of the restaurant (main part of the C) as we dined, the other side of a divider formed of a ceiling-high glass wine tower. I have of course checked the wine list, thankfully on paper so easy to glance through, and my table talks about those who immediately choose the most expensive, namely a 2006 Ch Pétrus at €4,200. I walk around to the other arm of the C, where an entire wall is lined, top to bottom, with real hard-cover books. The next of Max At One’s regular literary dinners here in the library featuring a professional reading before flowing through to dinner, undoubtedly accompanied by polysyllabic conversation, is already sold out.
I have books in my suite, 2310, the silver room in the 208-room luxury hotel (its bigger brother, 2410, has a working kitchen and a sauna but who needs that?). I have a whole shelf of books but they are all in German, including Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Der Archipel Gulag. Never mind, I have my own Solzhenitsyn. Yes, dear readers, I am still travelling with Cancer Ward. One page a night and then fall asleep…. Luxury travel tip for the day, take a paperback that allows you to read just a couple of paragraphs, no more.