CITYSLICKER

FRANKFURT
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The Independent Culture
FRANKFURT

As Nick Leeson languishes in jail, here's a guide to what he's missing in the city also known as "Mainhattan".

Shopping: Those who can, shop in Goethestrasse, which is lined with boutiques selling Armani suits, Herms ties and women's outfits hot off the catwalks. Those who can't, simply ogle - or head for the Saturday morning flea market on the banks of the Main to haggle over cheap Polish and Turkish goods. Reasonable imitation Gucci bags and Adidas tracksuits come at a fraction of the cost of the originals. And you can pick up genuine Russian icons or caviar.

Eat, drink and be merry: Chicago Meat Packers is an all-American diner with high ceilings, gallons of red paint, English-speaking waitresses and a large model railway running throughout the establishment. It's popular with the city's large expat community - and the German bankers love it. Those in a hurry head for the "Fressgasse"- loosely translated as "the street where you stuff your face" - where a number of up-market delis offer stand-up facilities for gorging on the spot. Not to be missed: "Zeppelin Wurst", available from Stephan Weiss, the designer butcher.

Hot ticket: The masses await the arrival of the Broadway version of Tommy, set to transfer to Frankfurt in mid-April.

Publication of note: The monthly satirical magazine Titanic partially dispels the notion that the Germans are humourless. More often than not, its relentless lampooning of Chancellor Helmut Kohl et al and breaking of long-established taboos works. Any city that boasts Goethe as its most famous son and hosts the largest annual book fair in the world has a certain literary reputation to live up to. For months, Frankfurters have been lapping up Jostein Gaarder's Sophie's World, the quick spin through the history of philosophy through the eyes of a 14-year-old Norwegian girl.

Hottest nightclub: The well-heeled (and there are many) are flocking to the Fantasy Garden, known in an early incarnation as Plastik. With white wicker furniture and crocodile replicas on the walls, the place has a mock-colonial feel that would appeal to Nick Leeson - although he would have to keep his mooning antics in check. Elsewhere, Frankfurt boasts a thriving Techno scene. If you are changing flights, go no further than the Dorian Gray nightclub at the airport, said to be a popular haunt of the artist formerly known as Prince.

Brew of the moment: The Frankfurt speciality is Ebbelwei, an apple wine or cider, which is served in almost every bar in the lively (but slightly twee) Sachsenhausen part of town. Some even use Ebbelwei to wash down that other Frankfurt speciality "green sauce", a mixture of herbs and yoghurt, which is poured liberally over chunks of beef or hard-boiled eggs.

Most ubiquitous item of clothing: Like bankers everywhere, Frankfurt's leading financial lights dress soberly - dark suits, white or light blue shirts, quietly stylish ties. In a country where, for men at least, no outfit is normally complete without at least one grotesque colour clash, it makes a refreshing change.

The meeting place: Those of classical bent go for the fountain in front of the Alte Oper, the renovated Old Opera House. Otherwise, there are hundreds of bars and cafs. The Schirn Caf is popular with the young business set; Caf Karin appeals to the more alternative. And for the city's large gay community (Frankfurt uniquely boasts a monument to the gay victims of Nazism), no weekend would be complete without a late breakfast at Harvey's.

Adrian Bridge

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