Proviantamt in Mainz offers fresh seasonal cuisine
June 29, 2016
If strolling through the cobblestone streets of Mainz, Germany’s, old town or admiring the bearded bronze statue of the city’s prodigal son, Johannes Gutenberg, makes you hungry, then make a beeline for Proviantamt.
The restaurant, located inside a historical red brick building in the city’s center, serves fresh, seasonal cuisine and is a wine-lover’s dream, but service can be slow.
I ended up there one day in June for a short lunch visit with a high school friend, a German teacher in America who was making her biennial visit to Germany with her exchange students.
I was relieved that she could translate for my monolingual brain the expansive menu formatted like a newspaper. We laughed when, at some point, we realized there were English translations of the menu items in faint green print underneath each entry’s bold German print. Even with the English prompts, it was not easy to make a quick decision. Our waitress had to come back twice while we pored over the menu.
This was not a typical German restaurant. It had plenty of German selections, but it was German food with a gourmet twist. The cheese plate was served with fig and walnut chutney. The lamb loin came with Mediterranean vegetables and blue cheese polenta. The fried salmon came with a baked sweet potato and, unfortunately, pea puree. (Maybe pea puree is tasty, but it sounds like something that comes in a baby food jar.) Potato-celeriac puree was a side with the braised calves’ cheeks.
We settled on two daily specials: turkey strips with mushrooms, spaetzle (egg noodles) and diced vegetables that looked like zucchini; and a fried filet of Zander (pike perch, which is popular in Europe) over roasted potatoes garnished with large sprigs of dill.
Both entrees were delicious.
But the real draw of Proviantamt is the beverages. Mainz is in the heart of the Rheinhessen, Germany’s largest wine region. The restaurant embraces that wine culture, hosting wine-tasting events with a selection of more than 450 wines. Choose a bottle at a discounted price and the restaurant adds only a 10-euro corking fee. The beer selections included several craft beers and on tap, a dark Czech beer and a pils brewed in Mainz, among others.
Proviantamt describes itself as cozy on its website. While the place certainly had a nice, upscale ambiance, it was huge, with several large rooms for dining; cozy didn’t come to mind. We avoided the din of the busy weekday lunch hour with a table on the outdoor terrace.
As for service and hospitality, it’s a mixed review. If you’re in a rush, the Cafe Extrablatt nearby might be a better choice. My friend and I had much catching up to do and didn’t mind waiting first for our meals, and then to pay. We left with content bellies but will probably always remember our less-than-friendly waitress. At least we’ll always have a story from Proviantamt: “Remember when we asked her what Zander was? That was some snooty eye roll.”
Location: Schillerstrasse 11a, 55116 Mainz. Within walking distance of Mainz’s train station and old town center.
Cost: Entrees start at about 5.40 euros (about $6.10) and go up to 22 euros and more. Daily lunch specials are usually less than 10 euros.
Hours: 9 a.m. to midnight Tuesday to Saturday — warm food served from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday — warm food served from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.