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June 2003

Local Flavor

Two very different restaurants in the Glockenbach Quarter

La Bouche
Jahnstrasse 30
(entrance on Westermühlstrasse)
Tel. (089) 26 56 26
Open Mon.–Fri. 9 am–10 pm
U1/7 Fraunhoferstrasse; tram 17 or
18 Müllerstrasse

Rows of antique wooden cinema seats, mismatched tables, well-worn high-back chairs and retro-tiling along the walls speak volumes about image consciousness at La Bouche. There isn’t any. This is a small neighborhood restaurant where guests check their attitudes at the door and then hunker down to well-made food at very reasonable prices. The 12-seat front dining room is designated a nonsmoking area and shares space with the bar and deli counter, where cured meats, assorted pastries and home-made tarts tempt from their display cases. Contagious Latin rhythms mingle with the whir of the coffee grinder and the sputtering gurgles of milk being steamed for eye-catching and buzz-inducing lattes. At the back, a second, more dimly lit dining room sports a large painting on the wall that looks as weathered as the furniture. La Bouche’s décor may have a hint of the second-hand, but service here is first-rate (with only minor imperfections) and the staff scores highly for friendliness and attentiveness. The daily menu is compact, offering a mere dozen items. Light, fragrantly seasoned tomato soup (€ 2.80) is accompanied by thick slices of good, crusty baguette. La Bouche offers one or two generous pasta dishes every day, such as spaghetti with tomato, bocconcini and arugula or with home-made pesto. The large meal-on-its-own salad (€ 4.90) comes with a choice of grilled goat cheese, chicken breast, ham, cheese and egg, or lox terrine. Warm, creamy goat cheese, grilled to golden brown crispness on one side may be a nod to the classic French chèvre chaud, but there is little evidence otherwise of a French connection, despite the restaurant’s name. (The menu sometimes includes Asian spring rolls with sweet and sour sauce or other non-European dishes.) The wine list offers a mostly French and Italian by-the-glass assortment (starting at € 2.80) and desserts are mainly classics, too. Airy mousse au chocolat with raspberry sauce (€ 2.50) is delicate, rich and satisfying, while the delightful tarte aux apricots is dotted with plump, juicy apricot halves. Chef-owner Claudia Lahn opened La Bouche in August 2002, converting what had been a gourmet specialty shop into a full-service, sit-down dining establishment. The steady stream of customers is proof that the change has been met with the approval it deserves.
Food **, Service ***, Atmosphere **

Hans-Sachs-Strasse 17
Tel. (089) 26 37 98
Open daily 9 am– 1 am;
Fri.–Sat. 9 am– 2 am
U1/7 Fraunhoferstrasse; tram 17 or
18 Müllerstrasse

In the afternoon, the many tables outside Faun are bathed in sunshine and customers bask in the warmth, smiling, chatting and soaking up the atmosphere. It is, however, not just the sunshine and its location at the heart of the Glockenbach Quarter that make this restaurant so popular. Set in a gorgeous Art Nouveau building, the intricate interior detail makes it one of the city’s most attractive dining establishments, where the relaxed, casual mood draws a devoted and diverse clientele. From breakfast through the afternoon and well into the evening a nonstop stream of locals, students and professionals share tables here with families and trendsetters alike. Dressed to the nines, opera-goers join the crowd for drinks or a late supper after performances at the nearby Theater am Gärtnerplatz. Everyone seems to feel welcomed here. Strange, then, that service tends towards the slow and cold-shouldered, with staff rarely cracking a smile. A sampling of the menu also confirms that it’s the atmosphere and not the food at Faun that keeps people coming in. Juxtaposing regional classics like pork fillet with Käsespätzle (€ 10.20) alongside Thai curry (€ 8.90) and the ubiquitous Italian pasta assortment, the adventurous menu unfortunately falls short of expectations. The kitchen’s inattention to detail is a big let-down: passable tomato soup with mozzarella (€ 2) is served with tasteless bread; rice is undercooked; gnocchi with spinach and Gorgonzola (€ 6.60) oversalted; the baguette with tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil doesn’t seem to contain any basil. Nonetheless, it’s not all bad news. Salads are good, and the affordable weekly lunch menu offers a trio of daily specials, including soup (€ 2) and two main courses (€ 4.50). The scrumptious Kaiserschmarrn (raisin and almond studded chunks of buttery, sweet batter pancake) served with apple sauce (€ 7.10) comes in an enormous portion. Share it with friends or tackle it solo. You’ll be in no hurry to leave this pleasant setting.
Food *, Service *, Atmosphere ***

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