The capital of Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart is also the commercial capital of southwest Germany, home to Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Stihl and other major companies.In fact, one of the first automobiles was developed here, and today's visitors can tour the Porsche Museum and factory tour. Stuttgart is also beautiful, with plenty of parks and nearby vineyards.
It’s a city that takes dining seriously, and has earned more than its share of Germany’s Michelin stars.
In the city and immediate surroundings there are a total of 17 starred restaurants. So take advantage of your stay there, sampling some of the best at power lunches with your colleagues and clients.
Making reservations, like getting around and doing business in Stuttgart, is easy thanks to the fact that most Germans speak very good English. Discussing your needs with the maitre d‘ will be easy, and menus are often multilingual or available in English. Wait staff in these restaurants can also describe dishes readily in English.
For an attention-grabbing meeting place, reserve a window table at Cube, the glass-enclosed top floor of Stuttgart’s art museum. Views from this lofty aerie stretch across the grand Schlossplatz gardens and fountains to the New Palace and on to vineyard-clad hills that surround the city. Artistry is appropriate to the setting in an art museum, and Cube‘s elegantly plated dishes will bring your guests‘ attention back to the table.
Starters range from a simple ham and cheese quiche to tartar of yellowfish tuna. Entrees change seasonally, and might include grilled lamb bratwurst with couscous, a vegetable curry or venison goulash. There’s a dizzyingly impressive menu of cocktails, fine sprits and non-alcoholic mixed drinks. Steal a few minutes after or before lunch to see the museum’s collection of works by Otto Dix, whose bold paintings captured the essence of cabaret society between the wars.
Cube is right in the center of Stuttgart, on the Schlossplatz.
In the Hotel Steigenberger Graf Zeppelin, opposite Stuttgart‘s main train station in the center of the commercial and financial district, Michelin-starred Olivo rings of discreet gentility. Many of its impeccably-clad tables are separated by demi-walls and all are widely spaced for private conversations. Descriptions on Chef Nico Burkhardt‘s French-inspired menu may look deceptively simple, but are only a tantalizing sketch of the final work of art. Begin with appetizers of Iberian pork, lobster carpaccio or Argentinian prawns with asparagus and watercress, before a main course of stuffed pigeon and the day’s chocolate interpretation for dessert.
Facing a tiny square surrounded by Medieval buildings, beside Stuttgart’s Old Castle, Alte Kanzlei serves authentic Swabian cuisine with an updated international flair. Tables dressed in white linens and gleaming crystal are well spaced for easy conversation, and the atmosphere is correct without being stiff. Going beyond the usual local favorites, the menu relies on local products and styles for options like smoked duck breast with port wine jelly and wild rabbit with sour-cherry pepper sauce.
One local specialty you can be sure of is Schwarzwälderkirschtorte – Black Forest cherry cake – for dessert. The Alte Kanzlei’s wine list is outstanding.
Nearly every German city follows the old tradition of having a restaurant in the ground floor of its Rathaus – city hall. While the Stuttgarter Ratskeller’s chummy atmosphere of wooden tables and gemütlichkeit is not the place for a quiet power lunch, it is a good place for you and your colleagues to socialize and soak up some local atmosphere in the middle of your business day. Out-of-town guests might appreciate a chance to get acquainted in the ratskeller’s more informal atmosphere. The menu of local specialties is long, but well translated, and the portions are extra-generous; think twice before ordering more than one course.
Along with the expected veal and pork schnitzels and spätzle dumpling you can choose from dishes such as pork medallions with mushrooms in a creamy sauce or roast goose with stuffed baked apple. For larger groups, the Ratskeller has private dining rooms. Stuttgarter Ratskeller is easy to find, under the city hall on Marktplatz, a five-minute walk from Schlossplatz.
If your business lunch requires meeting clients or colleagues before, after or between flights, Stuttgart has your back. Top Air is a fine-dining venue right in the airport, with well separated tables in a chic bright dining room. Don’t let the artful garnishes of fresh blossoms mislead you – this is serious fare that has earned numerous awards (including a Michelin star) for dishes such as pigeon breast with Périgord truffles, hand-fished scallops with Mumbai curry or black-walnut-crusted venison on a bed of red cabbage braised in port wine. Bear in mind that Top Air is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Café am Schlossgarten
In the Hotel am Schlossgarten, overlooking a park near the financial district and central rail station, Café am Schlossgarten is a quiet setting for a lunch or a mid-afternoon meeting over coffee and the cakes this region is famed for. The lunch menu includes options such as a delicate carpaccio of veal, the local meat ravioli known as maultaschen, or Veal Cordon Bleu made with Allgäuer cheese and the famous local ham. In the summer you can entertain your guests on the terrace overlooking the park, while in the winter the atmosphere inside is more like a traditional European coffee house, but with more table spacing.
The linens-and-crystal dining room at Fellini is surrounded by windows overlooking a busy street near Berlinerplatz, in central Stuttgart not far from Schlossplatz. The Business Lunch menu of Mediterranean dishes might begin with a warm soup of carrots and potatoes or the Italian classic vitello tonnato. Entrees of the day might include casarecce pasta in a tomato sauce with eggplant and ricotta, entrecotê with rosemary potatoes, or a simply grilled seabass with a salad of crisp baby greens. Finish your conversation over properly made espresso and a glass of fine grappa.
It might be difficult keeping your guests’ attention at Christophorus Restaurant, where the large windows overlook the cars displayed in the Porsche Museum. The restaurant is at Porscheplatz, the auto maker’s production facility, where Porsche sports cars and engines are built, and the adjoining museum is one of Stuttgart’s tourist highlights. The business lunch menu might begin with terrine of wild boar with pears and pistachios, or with smoked trout tartar with trout caviar, accompanied by a fine local Württemberg Riesling. The day’s featured entrée could be braised veal cheeks on rosemary polenta with grilled peppers. You might choose to finish with nougat crème brûlée and orange ice-cream, or a chai-flavored panna cotta with spiced apples and caramelized cashews, accompanied by a Tuscan Vinsanto del Chianti Classico. The Porsche Museum is close to the Neuwirtshaus/Porscheplatz S-Bahn station or a short taxi ride from central Stuttgart.
Things to do When You're Done with Lunch
Stuttgart is a wonderful city that's full of interesting sights and things to do. It's easy to walk off a rich business lunch in the city's beautiful parks or along its historic streets. A good place to start is Stuttgart's Palace Square (Schlossplatz), right in the heart of the city. The Palace Square connects to Schlossgarten Park, a park that stretches along the nearby Neckar River. Business travelers may also want to take in the Stuttgart State Gallery and it's world-class art collection, including a range of modern, 20th-century artists such as Picasso and Warhol.