For many years, the Drosselbart in Frankfurt-Eschersheim was a great place to eat, drink and socialize on warm summer evenings. They had a large garden, so you could usually still find a table even if the weather was fine and everybody was out. Together with family and friends, I think I have eaten at the Drosselbart more often than at all other Frankfurt restaurants combined.
The menu was written in chalk on a large blackboard (visible in the background in this photo), and varied from day to day, but they had all the usual things like steaks, salads, Schnitzel and Pommes (pronounced with two syllables in German, as opposed to one in French). In earlier years they also had inexpensive lamb chops, but these disappeared from the menu at some point after a change of management.
In addition to beer (including alcohol-free) and various other drinks, they also served the regional specialty, Äppelwoi or apple-wine, either in glasses or in the traditional jugs of various sizes, for the whole table.
The Drosselbart was located right next to the Eschersheim train station, now a stop on the suburban line S6 between Frankfurt and Friedberg. There had been a restaurant at this address since 1904, which was before Eschersheim even became a part of the city of Frankfurt.
A big plus point for us when our children were small, and later when our grandchildren were small, was that the Drosselbart had a big sand pit at one end of the garden with sand toys for the children to play with while we were waiting for our meals to arrive.
Since the garden was large and the kitchen was small, there were often long waits for the food. In the last years they even put up a sign next to the blackboard with the approximate waiting time, usually fifteen to twenty minutes, but up to forty-five on warm summer nights. We never minded this, since we wanted to make an evening of it anyway, and apparently most people felt the same.
The word Drossel in German means thrush (the bird, that is), and Bart means beard. Drosselbart is the name of a king in one of the Grimms’ fairy tales, in fact he is called ‘King Thrushbeard’ in English translation. (The story is a bit complicated, so I won’t try to summarize it here, except to say that the haughty young princess learns her lesson, changes her ways and lives happily ever after.)
At first, we mainly went to the Drosselbart in the warm half of the year, but in 2005 they finally got around to renovating and expanding their indoor restaurant, and after that we started going there all year round.
The owner of the building and garden, an elderly widow, died in 2016. Two years later, the property was put up for sale and was bought by a developer who wanted to build a new and much larger apartment building covering the entire site.
One of the neighbors collected three thousand signatures (including ours) on a petition to save the restaurant and the century-old chestnut trees. City officials negotiated with the developer and reached a compromise: the developer agreed to include a restaurant in the ground floor of the new building, along with a smaller beer garden and new trees. In return, he was given permission to build a five-story building instead of only three.
Judging from the architect’s sketches, the new restaurant and garden will be small, sleek, suave, modern, mondain and expensive — the opposite of the old Drosselbart. And of course it will take decades before the new trees start to look anything like the old ones.
The Drosselbart restaurant closed at the end of October, 2019. So at least it wasn’t a victim of the coronavirus pandemic, if that’s any consolation.
My photos in this post are from 2004 and 2020. I wrote the text in 2020.
See more posts on Frankfurt am Main, Germany.