After Hours: Deidesheimer Hof a bit stuffy
DEIDESHEIM, Germany — Ronald Reagan dined here, as did former British Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher and her successor, John Major.
And that’s just a few of the prominent people who have sat down for a meal at Deidesheimer Hof, a restaurant on the German Wine Road popularized by former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, a frequent guest.
Its guest book includes nobles, notables and office holders, from Queen Elizabeth and King Juan Carlos to legendary mountaineer Reinhold Messner and Spanish opera singer José Carreras to French president Jacques Chirac, Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev, former Russian president Boris Yeltsin and former Czech president Václav Havel.
Pictures of them all can be glimpsed either in the foyer or along the wooden staircase leading to the restaurant’s lower section, which is also the way to the restrooms. (You’ll appreciate the paper hand towels in the loo.)
But there are a couple of cautionary notes to this five-star establishment.
For one, the Deidesheimer Hof is a rather pricey place. Two servings of Saumagen — Kohl’s favorite dish — a ¾-liter bottle of mineral water and two glasses of white wine cost about $50, taxes included. The tasty dish consisted of a slice of Saumagen, bratwurst, leberknodel (liver dumpling), sauerkraut and potato purée.
Saumagen, which means “sow’s stomach,” is a regional delicacy similar to Scottish haggis. The stomach is used as a casing for the ingredients, much like sausage, but is rarely eaten. The delicacy consists of potatoes, carrots, pork, onions and several spices, such as marjoram, nutmeg and pepper.
Unlike most restaurants, however, the Deidesheimer Hof served only a half slice of Saumagen. When Stars and Stripes photographer Peter Jaeger rightly pointed that out to our waitress, she shrugged her shoulders.
“This is the way we do it here,” the woman stiffly said in German.
It was the type of response that underscores another valuable insight. In fine dining joints such as this one, there often is an air of superiority that puts a lot of people off, and it’s not just the hired help. On this warm autumn afternoon, with just about everybody eating outside, many of the clientele sure looked to be of the well-heeled variety.
This is, after all, a five-star restaurant, a favored place of poets, presidents and princesses. Unless you’re flush with cash or a guy looking for a memorable place to propose marriage, perhaps the thing to do is to buy a glass of something, which affords you the right to use the facilities. Or, better yet, skip the drink, walk in like you own the place, and head to the head to glimpse at the pictures of all those smiling heads of state.
As always, if you drink, do so responsibly. Don’t drink and drive.
Prices: A couple of regular dishes and a couple of drinks can easily cost between $40 and $50. A ¾-liter bottle of mineral water, for example, sells for about $8, while a regular ¼-liter glass of white wine runs about $5.
Hours: Lunch is served until 2 p.m. Dinner begins at about 6:30 p.m.
Location: The restaurant is situated in the center of Deidesheim at the market place. Deidesheim is located along the Weinstrasse (B 271), about 5 miles northeast of Neustadt an der Weinstrasse or 12 miles southwest of Ludwigshafen. The Weinstrasse can be accessed from Autobahn 6 or A 65.