Resto 12 Abacco’s Steakhouse, Frankfurt

Once, on holiday in the mountains of Cyprus with my wife in the passenger seat and my two children bouncing around on the back seat, I had a momentary lapse of concentration and all but drove us of a cliff with a hundred foot drop. It was a remarkably enjoyable experience. The details remain etched in my mind millisecond by millisecond – from the initial realisation that the wheels were no longer on the road to the desperate relief as I hauled us away from the ledge and back on to the macadam. As I safely tackled the next hairpin bend I was chuckling to myself with astonishment at my complete psychopathic indifference to the prospect of death.

I’m not saying that dining at Abacco’s Steakhouse had the terrifying jeopardy of a near-death experience but for me it did replicate the slow-motion thrill of being aware that you’re undergoing something where everything is completely going to f*ck and being cheerfully indifferent to it.

We’d chosen A’s S’house after a pleasant lunch in Hawksmoor prompted us to look for more of the same for our centrepiece stuffing of the face in Frankfurt. On arrival the location was promising. A sunny terrace next to the river with a good lump of locals already dining and just the odd stroller or cyclist passing by to disturb us.

I went in and told the person I thought was the maître d’ I had a reservation for three people. Or at least tried to because before I’d finished the sentence she asked me if I wanted a table for two (Mike was lingering out of shot) and told me and Tariq to follow her outside. Oh well, I thought, we have a table so no problem.

We perused the menus. Steak is the thing at Abacco’s and they have Uruguayan, Argentinian or American steaks of many varieties. But before we chose food we thought we might have an apéritif. The Hugo looked tempting as a refreshing brightener so we ordered a few of those with a pitcher of beer. (We were thirsty). Forty-five minutes later our drinks arrived. Regular readers may wonder why we hadn’t buggered off in the meantime, slow service often prompting a Levett walk out. I still wonder myself. A mixture of lethargy and there being no eateries nearby to walk to is probably the answer.

We weren’t in a hurry so we took the delay philosophically. The rest of the service couldn’t possibly be as bad could it, ha ha? We ordered a Mexican salad and a Caprese (with the memory of the good one from the evening before) to warm up. The Mexican arrived soon-ish. I enquired after my Caprese. A look of bewilderment crossed our server’s face. I insisted that yes, I had ordered a Caprese. I could see that she was thinking about contradicting me before she scurried off to get it.

It seemed hard to believe that she couldn’t have placed the order because she’d punched it into her machine (this involved a complicated amount of contortionism since the sunlight was playing havoc with her screen) and read it back to us. The salad when it arrived was very good and very much up to the standard of the Black Chicken. The Mexican Salad on the other hand looked like something you might get at a ropey service station. The only hint of its supposedly Latino inspiration was a lonely trio of kidney beans in a sea of lettuce and onion.

Could we order some wine now? ‘Of course, hahahaha’ cackled our waitress, before telling us that we should go to the toilet because ‘they’re really nice’. It was at this point that I began to realise that we were dealing with an idiot. This mitigated my irritation with things. Idiots, not being responsible for their idiocy, should be treated with kindness. Others at my table might have disagreed. Thinking it would be nice to have a local wine we searched for a German red. In vain. We had to pick an Austrian instead, which led our waitress to reveal to us that the reason her English was bad was because she was Austrian. Usually when people in Europe tell you their English is bad they mean that while they haven’t yet read King Lear in the original they are familiar with most of the major works of English literature and could have a detailed discussion with you about say, Joseph Conrad, if you have a spare hour. On this occasion there was no litotes involved.

The wine was brought by a feller with a complicated machine and a decanter. He proceeded to pour the wine through the machine which hummed and whizzed. This, apparently, was an aerator. People seem to have managed without an aerator for their wine (air being all around us) for millennia but I soon saw the reason for its use when I noticed that a take-home aerator was listed on the menu at twenty euros a pop.

Our aerated wine was delicious. As was my fillet steak, which had a good helping of chips alongside. But where was our spinach and our cucumber salad? Our server again looked thunderstruck. We’d ordered other things than steak and chips?! Yes, please go and get them. She reluctantly slunk off and fetched the veg. In Abacco’s they don’t cook the steak to order, as in Sartre’s hell the customers are expected to do the work themselves. This means that the steak arrives on a hot plate where you can sizzle to your heart’s content. But if you don’t know how long the steak has already been cooked in the kitchen how are you supposed to know how much longer it needs to get to your preference? Isn’t that what the chef is paid for? Across the way it wasn’t so much of an issue as they’d both ordered rib eyes the size of breeze blocks and were happy to cut them up into smaller portions and griddle the slices individually. But I had a deliciously buttery-tasty (and thin) Uruguayan fillet that I didn’t want to ruin by over-cooking. Thankfully I didn’t.

The greens arrived and our server got out the tiny violin and informed us that she was very tired as she’d been working for seven hours – with no pause – because ‘the young people didn’t want to work.’ I’d just assumed she’d took hour long breaks in between serving us our courses. By now we felt like we’d done a seven hour shift ourselves and wanting to leave before midnight we declined dessert in favour of some schnapps and a gin and tonic.

To round things off perfectly the schnapps and gin arrived with the bill, as requested, but no tonic. Could we have the tonic please. The tonic? Yes, the tonic for the gin and tonic. Tonic?! Ready to settle the bill our server insisted on taking it back and adding the tonic to an already fairly substantial sum. On a less relaxed afternoon it might have felt like an insult but on this occasion we just coughed up and left.

Never to return.

2/10 (The toilets were nice)

To see where else I’ve been click on the google map below.

Food Restaurants

f1insburyparker View All →

Blue Badge guide to London and academic specialising in early twentieth century history. Blogging on history, academia, and food and culture in the capital (and occasionally elsewhere).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: