Once upon a time, in the early 1980’s, Meinekenstraße 10 was perhaps THE leading restaurant destination in all of Berlin. It was here that Henry Levy famously cooked his “Maitre” to two Michelin-star fame with his take on French haute cuisine. Three decades later, it seems that at least some of Levy’s magic has permeated the walls forever as the current tenants also are making a name for themselves that’s echoing way past the Charlottenburg West Berlin enclave.
We’re talking about MINE, the Italian restaurant of Aram Mnatsakanov and his son Mikhail, with Aram being the main protagonist in this story. You might not be familiar with his name, but with his four restaurants in St. Petersburg and soon-to-be-two in Moscow along with his tv-shows and long line of awards and accomplishments, he is easily one of the most famous characters of modern, Russian gastronomy.
“Three decades later, it seems that at least some of Levy’s magic has permeated the walls forever as the current tenants also are making a name for themselves that’s echoing way past the Charlottenburg West Berlin enclave.”
MINE is his first venture outside of Russia, and it was his Berlin-based son Mikhail that inspired Berlin as a location. A turn of fate caused them to abandon their original Kreuzberg plans and open up MINE in Charlottenburg, just a stone’s throw of the lavishly famous shopping street Kudamm.
The Mnatsakanovs are gastronomic professionals through and through and this is something you will notice with every minute you spend at MINE. The attention to detail spent on food and drink as well as service experience are only matched by the flawless design of the stunning restaurant space. Moroccan tiles line the floors, design wallpapers cover ceilings and walls and tilted mirrors above the seats create an intriguing sense of space along with unanticipated opportunities to spy on neighbours.MINE is nothing less than a designer’s wet dream with its hand-picked pieces of design furniture, among them a magnificent Aldotura bar cart that will make you green of envy, and one of the most beautiful bathrooms in the city.
“The Mnatsakanovs are gastronomic professionals through and through and this is something you will notice with every minute you spend at MINE.”
The answer to why Russians from St. Petersburg came to running a line of Italian restaurants can be found in the Armenian ancestry of Aram Mnatsakanov and his profound interest for Italian cuisine, a passion that originated from the wine import business he operated in the late 90’s. This business eventually evolved into the current restaurant empire and 25 years of continuous and relentless search for excellence in recipes and ingredients have left Aram with a unparalleled understanding for cross-regional Italian cuisine. This mindset is the base of the menu at MINE, where unchanged homages to classic, Italian cooking peacefully co-exist with contemporary interpretations.
“25 years of continuous and relentless search for excellence in recipes and ingredients have left Aram with a impressive understanding for cross-regional Italian cuisine”
Like the Spaghetti Vongole, essentially a very classic affair at MINE, but an incredible one never the less; perfectly cooked Gragnano pasta is married into an insane clam sauce that seeks its counterpart in Berlin (it won’t find it, it’s the best). On a less classic note, you will discover that the addition of tuna sashimi to your Vitello Tonnato, despite your initial doubts, actually makes all the sense in the world. The same applies to the deconstructed, glazes Sicilian eggplant served with tomato marmalade and burrata, although the eggplant could be cooked a bit softer.
This is immediately forgotten though after tasting the magnificent and buttery Stufato beef cheeks covered in a red wine sauce laced with 26 Tuscan herbs on smoked potato mash, just like you’ll also sign any petition that declares every Tortelli on the planet from now on should be filled with burrata and served with black truffles, like the sensational version at MINE. Mouth-watering seafood risottos you only experienced from vacations, beautiful meringue desserts with rhubarb and strawberry, dry-aged U.S. prime rib eye steaks – the list of truly great dishes is long and it becomes clear, that such an eclectic and unorthodox Italian menu only can be conceived by someone who is in fact, not Italian.
“..just like you’ll also sign any petition that declares every Tortelli on the planet from now on should be filled with burrata and served with black truffles…”
MINE certainly also distinguishes itself among its peer Italians when it comes to price point (main courses are around 25€, Pasta Vongole will set you back 26€), but it’s not possible to argue against the spectacular cooking that’s coming out of this question. Add to that a wine list that will make even the slickest Berlin sommelier raise their eyebrows with its mix of rare Italians, French low-intervention classics and German top Rieslings, all served in Zalto glasses.
A meal at MINE is a firework of revelations, operating in a stunning setting, and an experience that inevitably will make you ask the question “Can this possibly be the best Italian restaurant in Berlin?”. Personally, after careful deliberations with myself and many friends in Berlin food, I dare to say; Yes, it might just be.
A dinner series conceived to challenge the existing. A meal destined to build bridges between cultures. An experience designed to widen horizons of the consumer. On Februar 27th, 2018, a group of diners became witnesses to the inaugural edition of NEU dinners, the new project by the group behind the Chef’s Symposium Terroir Berlin, where some of our time’s most esteemed chefs joined forces for a night of extraordinarily creative cooking.
This setting that guests welcomed the NEU guests on the night of February 27th was everything but an every-day sight: A graffitied wall crowned by a barbed wired fence in a remote, industrial area of Northern Berlin. A brisk walk through -18 degrees celsius towards an old car shop turned techno art club. And then, lastly, in the corner of the club: a restaurant.
“…where some of our time’s most esteemed chefs joined forces for a night of extraordinarily creative cooking.”
Tickets for the first edition of NEU sold out a month before the event, which was staged at the Anomalie Art Club, a venue fit for this cutting edge dining project in more than one way. On the one hand the rough, industrial charm of the classic Berlin club venue, with it’s hidden rooms and quirky buildings. On the other hand, the secret dining room LaMifa in the back of the club, a stunningly elegant restaurant venue with high ceilings, beautiful art work and a live plant wall. Anomalie represents the new face of Berlin, where restaurant and food culture is valued equal (or even greater) than techno and art culture.
“..a stunningly elegant restaurant venue with high ceilings, beautiful art work and a live plant wall”
For the first edition of NEU Dinners “The World’s Best Female Chef 2017”, Ana Roš (Slovenia), and Roman star-chef, Cristina Bowerman (Italy), came to the German capital to cook a unique and collaborative multi-course menu alongside Berliner Meisterkoch 2017 and Best European Chef of the Year 2018, Sebastian Frank (Austria), and young chef-prodigy Lukas Mraz (Austria), who just returned from cooking at the world’s most acclaimed cooking event GELINAZ!.
The theme for the first NEU dinner was “The Amber Road”, an interpretation of a historical trade route that originated at the Baltic Sea and ran through Western Europe all the way down to Italy, tying all the home countries of the participating chefs together and providing the narrative for this collaboration. Watching these creative masterminds work together, however, quickly showed that a creativeness can’t be restrained by frameworks.
The chefs cooked in pairs, with every dish one chef taking the lead and inspiration from the other. The result were remarkable plates of food, not to be found on any restaurant menus, and where the last details were worked out within the last minutes before serving. Noteworthy examples included the “Austrian Suppenfleisch with an oyster and Brussels sprouts salad by Sebastian Frank and Ana Roš, or the sensational and thought-provoking (ever eaten a grilled char head?) “Char Nose-To-Tail” by Lukas Mraz and Cristina Bowerman. Ana Roš added Sebastian Frank’s signature poppy seeds to her plum-miso glazed black cod and Lukas Mraz inspired Cristina Bowerman to tempura fry an oyster and incorporate umeboshi vincotto with her pork jowl dish.
“Watching these creative masterminds work together, however, quickly showed that such raw creativeness can’t be restrained by frameworks.”
At the end of the night, when guests and chefs made their way home in one of the coldest nights of the year, it became clear that the mission was accomplished. Every spectator to the show walked out of the NEU experience a bit smarter and a lot more inspired.
The experimental dinner series NEU is spearheading the modern Berlin food movement in a time where the creative spirit of one of the most liberal and urban focal points in Europe is reflecting strongly on its exploding food scene. The reoccurring dinner series will pair international renowned guest chefs with Berlin chefs for unrivalled evenings of culinary storytelling and creativity.
NEU was created because we believe creativity and collaboration are closely intertwined and because chefs need to be pulled out of their comfort zone once in a while. Every NEU dinner will be a synergy of different cooking styles and influences. Chefs can cook pretty much whatever they want, but dishes have to be conceived in collaboration and they are forbidden to recreate dishes from their ordinary restaurant menus. The chefs of NEU will immerse themselves in their collaboration and the result will be a meal that pushes the envelope for everybody involved. It will be experimental. It will be wild. It will be highly entertaining. And it will be a glimpse into the future of Berlin dining.
The first NEU Dinner was hosted at the legendary Anomalie Art Club in Northern Prenzlauer Berg on February 27th, 2018, where 65 guests were the exclusive witnesses of this unique, culinary collaboration. The aperitif of the evening was provided by Mr. Susan and the wines for the evening were provided by Viniculture. Wine service was overseen by Emily Harman from Vina Lupa.
Sign up for the NEU Dinners newsletter on neudinners.comfor infos and ticket releases for the next dinners.
For further questions and press inquiries, please contact hello (at) neudinners.com
Suppenfleisch. Oyster and apple brussels sprouts salad. BY SEBASTIAN FRANK & ANA ROŠ
Char with shiitake. Swiss pine dashi. BY LUKAS MRAZ & CRISTINA BOWERMAN.
Miso grilled char head. Tempura char belly. BY LUKAS MRAZ & CRISTINA BOWERMAN.
Black cod. Glazed in plum miso. Fermented cottage cheese. Pickled beetroot. Poppy seeds with pork crackling. BY ANA ROŠ AND SEBASTIAN FRANK
Pork Jowl. Oyster tempura. Umeboshi vincotto. Oyster yoghurt. Salsify BY CRISTINA BOWERMAN & LUKAS MRAZ
No other district in Berlin showcases a broader spectrum of Arab culture than the area around Sonnenallee in Neukölln. A myriad of restaurants, casinos and shops line the busy street on both sides, offering anything imaginable to the mix of locals. The food offering of Sonnenallee is unique, and whilst the unstoppable wave of gentrification of Neukölln in recent years has produced several, contemporary restaurants, such as Industry Standard,JaJa, Beuster etc., it’s fair to say that, in terms of food, Sonnenallee is still in firm hands of Turkish, Lebanese, Palestine and, most recently, Syrian restaurateurs.
“…but it was the rumor of a proper, never-before-in-Berlin-seen Shawarma place called “Aldimashqi” that caught my attention.”
The most recent arrival of Syrian refugees to Berlin has had the side effect of a couple of highly interesting restaurants opening around Sonnenalle, like the baklava shop Konditorei Damaskus, a bakery that quickly reached legendary status with its sensational produce. There were several other places opened by Syrians on the street (Rachel wrote a great piece about it on Exberliner), but it was the rumor of a proper, never-before-in-Berlin-seen Shawarma place called “Aldimashqi” that caught my attention. Just as I started planning my encounter with this shawarma in the end of 2016, I learned the devastating news that Aldimahqi had to close its doors. I was left with a hefty dose of unfulfilled shawarma cravings. Luckily, less than a year later, Aldimashqi opened up in much larger capacity on Reuterstraße, just off Sonnenallee, in the venue of former Turkish Ocakbasi Adanus. This time I didn’t hesitate. The rest is history, drenched in Shawarma bliss.
“This time I didn’t hesitate. The rest is history, drenched in Shawarma bliss”
True Shawarma greatness, I now know, is fundamentally simple in its composition: Chicken, garlic sauce and flatbread. But it’s the details, seasoning and preparation that make the difference and the crew at Aldmimnashqi are mastering this trade. In the storefront of Aldimashqi you’ll find the pulsating heart of the operation; the giant, rotating chicken kebab. It’s from this skewer the meat for the shawarma is hand cut: fatty, grilled chicken thigh that’s been marinated in an eclectic and highly secret spice mix, only to be grilled to juicy perfection and then rolled into a flatbread with nothing else but a healthy smear of a highly addictive garlic yoghurt sauce. The roll is then dipped into chicken drippings before its seared with a weight on the griddle and served with another dollop of that garlic sauce for dipping purposes. A simple dish, but after one bite you will understand why Aldimashqi is packed day and night. This Shawarma is a gift to mankind, an explosion of chicken and garlic on your palate, a sweet song from a land far away, tucked in between the sheets of a perfectly crunchy flatbread.
“This Shawarma is a gift to mankind, an explosion of chicken and garlic on your palate, a sweet song from a land far away, tucked in between the sheets of a perfectly crunchy flatbread.”
While the Shawarma surely is the signature dish of Aldimashqi, the inherited, massive charcoal grill from the former tenants allows for other, delicious explorations. Exampled include the Grilled Chicken or the Eggplant Baba Ganoush, the grilled chicken crunchy and juicy and ready to be plucked by eager hands, the eggplant in the baba ganoush smoky and beautifully accentuated by fruity peppers. Items like the hummus, the kebab lamb or chicken chicken don’t reach the same level and can be neglected, but you should be adviced to not miss the formidable dessert station in the back where cheese kunafa and ellaborate fruit cups are made from scratch.
It doesn’t take an expert in Syrian food to realize the greatness of Aldimashqi, the Shawarma is a stunning creation that’s merely begun its journey to fame. Having a meal at Aldimashqi amidst the local community is an extraordinary experience full of love for food traditions and this project is for a fantastic example how food is the ultimate language of culture.
In a time where the pressure of the explosive growth around Berlin’s restaurant scene is threatening the existence of great, casual dining, St. Barts appears out of nowhere to remind us what a great Gastropub in Berlin can look like.
“St. Barts appears out of nowhere to remind us what a great Gastropub in Berlin can look like.”
Look for the tiled facade of Gräfestraße 71, at the Southern tip of Kreuzberg. It’s here, amidst the moody darkness, where at dinner time the view hardly extends past the neighbouring table in the feeble light of the flickering candle light, it’s here you should look for the food apostle St. Bart. Some of you might recognize the venue from the legendary eatery Little Otik, one of the pioneers of farm-to-table dining that resided here about a decade ago. It was in mid-2017 when Australian-born Lee Thompson’s and his wife took over the contract from Little Ortik’s Italian successor Brillo and in August 2017 they opened their culinary homage to St. Bartholomew, apostle and patron of chefs and mountain climbers. Only six months later, I found Thompson, a chef lacking any serious accolades apart from a head chef position at the barely-above-average Italian restaurant Mädchenitaliener, cooking some of the most honest and well executed bar food in the city. Quite remarkable, considering Thompson isn’t even a trained chef.
“…is cooking some of the most honest and well executed bar food in the city.”
Inspired by gastronomic legends like legend Fergus Henderson, the Thompsons have assembled a team that executes their vision of a Berlin pub: Simple food to share. Cheap beer. Great cocktails and wines with a lot bang for the buck. As simple as this might sound, this is very hard to find elsewhere in Berlin.
The marriage of food and drink culture is a very happy one at St. Barts. You can seat yourself at the bar with a beer, enjoy a sensational and massive back bacon sandwich, wash it down with a beer and walk away paying less than ten euros. Or you move into the back dining room, order some cocktails, share a bunch of plates with your pals and hydrate with a couple of extraordinary wines from Victor Hausladen (special tip: his Eastern European selection). Do all of that, and you still won’t spend more than 50-60€ per head. Value for money is truly spectacular at St. Bart.
“The marriage of food and drink culture is a very happy one at St. Barts.”
Smaller dishes on the St. Bart menu might include burnt Jerusalem artichokes with aioli, fried Brussels sprouts with lemon or grilled broccolini with butter, inherently simple ingredients that have been pushed to their savoury limits, using a profound understanding of how to apply fire and fat. A full glimpse of the raw talent in this kitchen is manifested in their signature fried chicken where fat free-range birds undergo a lengthy preparation of brining and buttermilk marinating before they are powdered in a myriad of spices, deep fried in peanut oil and then tossed in tabasco butter in an epic finale of savouriness. The magnificently juicy and crispy result that arrives at your table is one of the tastiest and most indulgent specimens of fried chicken in Berlin right now.
“The amount of skill in this kitchen is beautifully manifested in their signature fried chicken”
The welcome presence of Germans in both the restaurant and chef Thompson’s personal life mellow out any expat hipness in a very pleasant way. It also adds the occasional German touch to the menu, for example a spin on the German blood pudding and potato dish “Himmel & Erde” that comes in a fantastic layered potato cake version. And if that’s not enough to shake your palate, you can have yourself a stunning grilled mackerel from the Dutch fish monger heroes at Küstlichkeiten.
“The welcome presence of Germans in both the restaurant and chef Thompson’s personal life mellow out any expat hipness in a very pleasant way.”
Where I usually can’t wait for restaurants to develop further, in the case of St. Barts I’m actually hoping for the exact opposite. Of course there is room for improvement for food and especially the service. But I sincerely hope that at least the casual and playful nature of this wonderful establishment is timeless, there are way too many (similar) restaurants I’ve seen develop from an initial, casual concept to a finer dining setup, a play often forced by the immense, financial pressure of a food scene with rising rents and demanding diners who hog tables. If everything goes well, you’ll find me at the St. Barts bar in five years eating a back bacon sandwich for under 10 euros with a beer that’s under 3 euros. Wishful thinking, I know, but what are we without (food) dreams.
I hope 2018 has got you feeling all fresh and ready for a year of serious eating in Berlin! The city’s usual January restaurant-coma has been injected with some serious adrenaline and a few very interesting openings as well as lots of new stuff about to open its doors.
The biggest news of the year, however, is that we’re about host the very first edition of our extraordinary new project NEU Dinners and on Tuesday, February 27th we’re bringing the sensationally cool, world-renowned chefs Ana Roš and Cristina Bowerman to Berlin to pair them with our very own Sebastian Frank and Lukas Mraz for a dinner at the amazing Anomalie Art Club. I kid you not, this will be one of Berlin’s greatest feasts of this year. Limited tickets are now on sale.
If the Burgermeister queue gets too long this new Vietnamese-focused, Asian-fusion joint might just be your calling card given its handy location on Skalitzer Str. right by U-bahn station Schlesisches Tor.
A brand new wine bar has opened up inside this Italian eatery on Walter-Benjamin-Platz offering Italian bar snacks and wines in a flash-looking venue.
Ramen x Ramen
Holy lord, there’s another new ramen place in Friedrichshain and it’s got some SERIOUS potential with a Japanese chef who’s specialised in ramen noodles. Definitely worth a trip.
Rumour has it that everyone’s ultimate kitchen hero was spotted drinking with Billy Wagner until an ungodly hour before turning up for lunch at The Michelberger, hungover as a goat. All to film an episode of “Parts Unknown”.
The wine wizards down at Wagner are launching a new intimate private dining space and wine showroom in partnership with LADIDADI Wines. Exact location TBC but I’m placing my bets on Kreuzberg.
If you thought Paul Bocuse’s death was sad news, Berlin has been rocked by the news that everyone’s favourite Imbiss (and home of the biggest Buletten in the city) has closed for good. We had hoped the guys were merely on a quick holiday at Tropical Islands, but sadly it looks like they’ve served their last Buletten. What a loss.
There’s heavenly news for pizza fans: Lukasz, co-founder of the famous Kreuzberg pizza slinger ZOLA, is opening a new Neapolitan-style pizzeria with in-house bakery next month, right by the canal on Fuldastr.
Congratulations to our very own Sebastian Frank (and current Berliner Meisterkoch 2017) who was recently named “European Chef of the Year” by the influential gastronomy festival Madrid Fusion.
Basil, the talented chef behind the inventive Wild Things kitchen, is rumoured to be moving on to Industry Standard to head up their legendary kitchen from February.
Our very first dinner edition of NEU will blow your gastronomic socks off. Ana Roš, Cristina Bowerman, Sebastian Frank and Lukas Mraz are right now planning an insane evening of gastronomic storytelling and it will be wild, it will be experimental, the wines from Viniculture will be top notch and the Anomalie Art Club is the coolest dining location you’ve seen for a long time. Tickets go on sale at midday on Thursday, February 1st, but seats are very limited so you’ll need to be fast. GET YOURS BEFORE THEY GO!
NEU dinners is the new project by the people behind Terroir Berlin where we will throw highly creative and experimental dinners with some of the most esteemed chefs of this planet. This reoccurring dinner series will happen once every quarter and under different themes we will pair guest chefs with Berlin chefs for an unrivalled evening of culinary storytelling.
We created NEU because we believe creativity and collaboration are closely intertwined and because chefs need to be pulled out of their comfort zone once in a while. Every NEU dinner will be a synergy of different cooking styles and influences. Chefs can cook pretty much whatever they want, but dishes have to be conceived in collaboration and they are forbidden to recreate dishes from their ordinary restaurant menus. The chefs of NEU will immerse themselves in their collaboration and the result will be a meal that pushes the envelope for everybody involved. It will be experimental. It will be wild. It will be highly entertaining. And it will be a glimpse into the future of Berlin dining.
For or first edition of NEU Dinners on Tuesday, February 27th we are thrilled to bring “The World’s Best Female Chef 2017”, Ana Roš (Slovenia), and Roman star-chef, Cristina Bowerman (Italy), to the German capital to cook a unique and collaborative multi-course menu alongside Berliner Meisterkoch 2017 and Best European Chef of the Year 2018, Sebastian Frank (Austria), and young chef-prodigy Lukas Mraz (Austria), who just returned from cooking at the world’s most acclaimed cooking event GELINAZ!.
The first NEU Dinner will be hosted at the legendary Anomalie Art Club in Northern Prenzlauer Berg (www.anomalie123.de) where 60 guests will be the exclusive witnesses of this unique, culinary collaboration. The theme for the first NEU dinner is based around the Amber Road, a historical trade route that started at the Baltic Sea and ran through Western Europe all the way down to Italy. It ties all the home countries of the participating chefs together and provides the creative framework for this food experience. Wines for the evening will be provided by our partner Viniculture, who in close collaboration with selected winemakers will match the Amber Road theme in the wine pairing
Tickets for this first dinner will cost 200€ (including a wine pairing and water). Tickets go on sale for the public on February 1st at 12.00pm CET on www.exploretock.com/neudinners/
Face it, if you are the kind of person that enjoys dining in beautiful and lavish restaurant venues with ancient interior that breath history out of every pore, you’re choices are fairly limited in Berlin. And if you want such a location that also serves great food and drink with friendly service, well, to be honest, I wouldn’t really know where to send you. One place that might just develop into just this though is ORA, a project that’s witnessed a development into one of the more interesting dining options in Northern Kreuzberg over the last year and whose food offering has been soaring beneath the radar long enough.
“…ORA, a project that’s witnessed a development into one of the more interesting dining options in Northern Kreuzberg over the last year”
ORA opened it’s doors in May 2015 after Lukas Schmid and Christoph Mack successfully had signed the lease for the ancient pharmacy on Oranienplatz that dates back to 1861. Continuing a pharmacy operation in this venue was not really an option since the infrastructure didn’t meet the needs of the modern pharmacist and thus the property owners laid it upon the new tenants to honour the legacy of the this formidable house with a suitable project.
The old medicine cabinets and tiled floors were kept and the rest refurbished and complemented with furniture chosen to lool like it’s been there for the fifty years. Stunning green, leather couches, ancient coffee house tables and and abundance of pharmacy memorabilia make you wonder if actually anything changed in this place over the last 100 years. Another item that was kept is the original neon lighting and when the new owners fired up the signs only three names lit up. O, R and A. Finding a name for the place was a no-brainer after that.
“Stunning green, leather couches, ancient coffee house tables and and abundance of pharmacy memorabilia make you wonder if actually anything changed in this place over the last 100 years.”
ORA started out as a coffee house without a proper kitchen but has in the course of its existence extended its restaurant focus. The tremendous transformation from slightly overrated coffee house to notoriously underrated restaurant tells an intriguing tale of Berlin’s restaurant scene today. My initial visits back in 2016 made me dismiss ORA an as overwhelmingly pretty yet fairly average café experience and it disappeared from my restaurant radar. The rest of the Berlin community, led by the fiercely visual leaders of the Kinfolk movement, could however not get enough of this place and started pilgriming to Oranienplatz with charged iPhones on a mission to instagram the living daylight out of this place.
“The rest of the Berlin community, led by the fiercely visual leaders of the Kinfolk movement, could however not get enough of this place and started pilgriming to Oranienplatz with charged iPhones on a mission to instagram the living daylight out of this place. ”
Two years later I randomly walked in for lunch and I was surprised to find a superb lunch offering. It was fresh, it was vibrant, it was well executed and it complemented the vibe of this unique venue extraordinarily well. I felt like I was in a different city altogether, eating in an ancient Brasserie in Paris or feasting on a plate of Geschnetzeltes at the legendary Kronenhalle in Zürich.
That time I ate a grain salad with beautiful slices of homemade pastrami, a type of dish that for me represents the perfect lunch dish and still is a staple on the ORA menu. Some days it’s served with a thick slice of cured and roasted pork belly, other days with a smoked duck breast, but it’s always fantastic. Other dishes are more elaborate, like the salmon trout with anis, parsley root and radish, but Chef Constantin Guathey’s ambition is to keep lunch simple and affordable.
“I felt like I was in a different city altogether, eating in an ancient Brasserie in Paris or feasting on a plate of Geschnetzeltes at the legendary Kronenhalle in Zürich.”
The dinner menu takes it a notch higher with dishes like the smoked burrata with pickled celeriac root and sour pumpkin cream or the trifecta of mushrooms with mushroom cream. Guathey’s french roots with the addition of lots experience in Ireland with contemporary, British cuisine shows in his food and it’s a true pleasure to eat the food from his kitchen.
The ORA experience transcends far beyond food though, on one side the pastry team bakes a tremendous sourdough that can be enjoyed with your meals while also whipping out spectacular French pastry creations. On the other side, the bartender team has aligned their quality thinking with the kitchen and keeps you hydrated with cocktails that make many bars in the area look like fools. ORA very righteously labels itself as restaurant, café and bar – an “jack-of-all-trades” existence that not many in Berlin manage to pull of this well.
Welcome to my annual Berlin food retrospective! What a year of eating it has been. I used to be able to keep up and cover most of the interesting, new restaurants, but 2017 will go down in the books as the year when I had to subdue myself to the avalanche of openings. It’s truly been a tremendous year for eating in Berlin, from restaurant openings that will impact the food scene for years to come to the tremendous development of established eateries.
“It’s truly been a tremendous year for eating in Berlin”
There were several restaurants that stood out in 2017, like Mrs. Robinson’s, who in the course of the year established themselves as one of the most ambitious casual fine dining places in the city. Michelin star 2019? Why the hell not? Same goes for CODA, the ever so underrated fine dining restaurant that happens to focus on desserts and cocktails. A stellar restaurant pursuing a concept that’s before its time? Most likely. A unique restaurant that we should be proud of and support? 100%. So do me a favour and visit CODA next year.
“A stellar restaurant pursuing a concept that’s before its time”
One of the most visible trends of 2017 was the wave of contemporary Thai restaurants, a great sign how Berlin is starting to keep up with cities like London where this also was a big thing this year. On one part of the city Kin Deeopened, the fantastically delicate and refined interpretation of Thai that taught us so much about Thai cuisine. On the other side of Berlin we had the rowdy crew from Khwan grilling and smoking their way through their version of Thai food. An abundance of emotions from one of the most exiting cuisines in Asia, transferred brilliantly on to plates right here in Berlin. Thanks to both crews for their phenomenal work. And thanks for cooking together during my 5-years of Berlin Food Stories party!
“An abundance of emotions from one of the most exiting cuisines in Asia, transferred brilliantly on to plates right here in Berlin.”
Which leads me to the most important moment of food in Berlin in 2017. I am convinced that true greatness in Berlin food must be achieved by the hands of a few remarkably dedicated characters that spearhead a movement. And this year we saw a restaurant opening by a chef that has what it takes to attract any guest to Berlin. I’m speaking about Ernst, the polarizing 12-seater in Wedding that’s taking produce- and terroir-focused cooking to a level we haven’t seen in Germany before. I don’t know where Ernst is going, if they are going to get Michelin stars or get on lists. I do however know that one day the unlimited dedication of the very young and immensely talented people behind Ernst will make them one of Germany’s most famous restaurants.
“I do however know that one day the unlimited dedication of the very young and immensely talented people behind Ernst will make them one of Germany’s most famous restaurants.”
A couple of eateries that have come up very strong at the end of the year are Wagner, ORA and St. Bart’s in Kreuzberg, three places we’re surely going to see more of next year. The same goes for JaJa, the fantastic wine bar in Neukölln that saw a reincarnation this year with a serious food menu added to its repertoire. Some of the biggest achievements were however made in existing places. It’s one thing to open a place, but a whole different story to improve and develop an existing operation in the way some places have been doing this year. Examples include the very fine restaurants Cordobar, Michelberger Restaurant and Horváth whose tremendously hard work paid off big time and who all today are much better restaurants than they were a year ago.
“Some of the biggest achievements were however made in existing places.”
A personal highlight in 2017 was to organize Terroir Berlin, our city’s very first international chef’s symposium. Terroir was a project destined to fuel the development of the Berlin food scene, a cause close to my heart, and we brought a couple of the world’s most renowned chefs to Berlin to share their stories and experience with us, a strategy I still believe to be pivotal to the development of the scene. We need the world’s best to come to Berlin to show us how it’s done and we need a lot of inspiration from abroad to grow.
“Stay tuned for the ticket release for the first NEU dinner in January.”
There will be no Terroir 2018. Instead we will wait until 2019 in order to make Terroir exactly the kind of event Berlin needs. Instead of Terroir we will however launch a whole new dinner series where some of world’s most famous chefs will cook together with Berlin’s finest chefs in an experimental dinner that challenges everybody involved. The goal: Once-in-a-lifetime meals that you’ll never forget. This project will be called NEU and I’m immensely happy to announce that we will launch the first NEU dinner on February 27th in Berlin. Stay tuned for the ticket release for NEU in January.
I’ll send you into next year with one request: Please somebody finally open an artisanal döner kebab with great ingredients and loads of love that takes Berlin kebab culture to the next level. I’ve waited too long now and it the time has come. Then Billy and me can finally do another Kotti wine tasting with a truly great Döner.
Wishing you and your families a very happy new year. May all your New Year’s Dinners be extraordinary. See you in 2018.
Well, it’s bonkers cold and we’re all wet as hell, but it’s ALMOST New Year! For this final newsletter of 2018, I’ve racked my brains to bring you enough restaurant news to see you into next year. And if you still don’t have your Silvester plans down, DON’T PANIC: My NYE Berlin Restaurants list is growing by the day and you will find plenty of extraordinary dinners in there to chew yourself into 2018 in style. And in addition to that, check out Liv Fleischhacker’s incredible Berlin Drinks website to take care of all your fluid needs.
From the bottom of my heart, I wish you all a Happy Holidays! May all the meals you consume be phenomenal and full of joy. And drinks. And Xmas ham.
SEE YOU IN 2018!
Newly open on Elisabethkirchstr. this new joint is located where Schwein once stood offering a European menu in a restaurant/bar set-up that seems very similar to its predecessor.
There’s a new local wine bar in the heart of Rixdorf village, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner alongside bottles of the good stuff from 9:00-00:00, six days a week.
This Schönhauser Allee safe-space is essentially a Thai fusion joint, but don’t let that put you off. On my last visit I had a very solid Khao Soi and a Matcha Cheesecake with peanut parfait that blew my hat off.
Sitting right on the edge of Görlitzer Park, this new taproom offers a great selection of European beers alongside their own, personal brew. Bartenders are friendly and happy. What’s not to like?
Rumours about which Berlin restaurants will be opening outposts in Bikini’s new food court are abound. Two of the most likely we’ve heard so far: Royals & Rice and Djimalaya.
Susan Choi, the brainchild behind everyone’s favourite modern Korean/American food and drink, has the keys to her very own place. And with her two of the finest bartenders in Berlin in the form of Damien Guichard and Sean Duff. Stay tuned for more details on what promises to be THE most exciting bar opening of 2018.
It was a sad month for wine lovers with both Miller Wine Bar and WeinPlatz popping their last corks. Both have now closed their doors for good. And so service is ended. Rest in peace.
Purveyors of some of Berlin’s best burgers, The Bird crew are turning their hand to the good old American BBQ, promising to smoke all their meat -Texas-style- in-house.
If you’re hanging around Berlin for New Year’s Eve, I demand you read this round-up of New Year’s Eve in Berlin 2017. It’s for your own sake. And I’m keeping it updated as new restaurants release menus and plans. Keep coming back to it, and get booking!
Every Sunday, the mother of Skykitchen‘s Michelin-starred head chef Alexander Koppe, takes over her son’s kitchen on the top floor of the Andel’s Hotel and serves a phenomenal-quality German brunch menu which kicks-off with a massive buffet, moves on to hearty mains including Königsberger Klopse, and finishes with classics such as Quarkbällchen. All inclusive with drinks for an unbelievable 39€ per person. The perfect place to take parents and hands down the best brunch buffet in town.
Germans have always had a deep and profound relationship with Austrians when it comes to their food. Not many will happily admit to this, but a lot of German food culture is either directly or indirectly based on Austrian cuisine. Visit any, random German restaurant across the republic and you are likely find a Schnitzel and Kaiserschmarrn on the menu.
If you consider this, it actually seems quite natural that one of Berlin’s finest restaurants is run by an Austrian. The establishment I’m referring to goes by the name of Horváth (named after the Austrian-Hungarian novelist), a restaurant that’s existed since 2008 but where a change of ownership in 2012 morphed this bastion of Austrian food culture into a temple of true gastronomic excellence. The new owners were Sebastian Frank and Jeannine Kessler and as a team (Sebastian in the kitchen and Jeannine in management), this utterly humble couple have in five years convinced pretty much everyone of the excellence of their restaurant Horváth. 18 Gault Millau points, 2 Michelin stars, Berliner Meisterkoch 2017, Berlin’s 50 Top Restaurants 2016 & 2017 – the list of Horváth’s accolades reads long and after a recent visit that left no senses untouched, it became clear to me that the time has come for me to join this choir in the front row.
“Not many will happily admit to this, but a lot of German food culture is either directly or indirectly based on Austrian cuisine.”
Horváth is located on the prime restaurant strip of Paul Lincke Ufer on the Northern shore of the Landwehr canal that crosses through the Kreuzberg and Neukölln districts. The initial visual appearance would probably not strike you as a restaurant with two stars – the small size, the outdoor terrace, the wooden wall panels; all items you would expect to find in a Gaststube and not a groundbreaking, fine dining restaurant. Yet here you you’ll find Sebastian Frank, the smiling Austrian who has made this ancient house his personal temple of culinary development.
“The initial visual appearance would probably not strike you as a restaurant with two stars.”
The core foundation of Frank’s cuisine is his education as a chef in Austria where he worked his way through “thousands of Knödel and Strudel”. as an apprentice. He spent some time in the kitchen of great restaurants (among others the “old” Steiereck), but he essentially sees himself as self-taught chef. This because his position as head chef at Horváth came as a sudden opportunity at a young age when he moved back to Berlin with his family. Suddenly he was in charge of a restaurant with ambitions, not really knowing what to cook, resulting in a wild mix up of Austrian cuisine with luxury ingredients like lobster and horse mackerel. After six months he made the cut towards local ingredients to maximize quality and he never looked back.
“After six months he made the cut towards local ingredients to maximize quality and he never looked back.”
This wasn’t the last time the kitchen changed, in the course of the following eight years the food concept at Horváth shed it’s skin multiple times. Frank was determined to move his cuisine forward, even if that meant losing regulars who weren’t willing to follow him on this journey. It turned out his ambition was well placed and the lost regulars were replaced by new ones. The first star came in 2011, the second in 2015 and with it an artistic freedom that gave him the confidence to pursue his vision of a contemporary Austrian cuisine rooted in ingredients from the greater Berlin area.
The result we see today, a triumphing menu that’s been put through countless filters and captures your senses from the first plate to the last glass. The food is spectacular, but the beverages deserve more than a side note. On one hand you have a wine cellar that features an unique and highly interesting selection of bottles from the “Kaiserlich-Königlich” region of the former Austrian-Hungarian empire, and on the other side you have a non-alcoholic juice pairing that’s unbelievably impressive. Think “Whey with horseradish, honey and camelina oil” or “Radicchio water with almond-lemon oil”. This is quite frankly the best juice pairing I’ve encountered in Germany, not only utterly forward-thinking, but most importantly stunningly well paired with the food.
“The result we see today, a triumphing menu that’s been put through countless filters and captures your senses from the first plate to the last glass.”
A meal at Horváth always starts with a cup of aspic made according to an ancient 1894 recipe – a savoury, slightly acidic and flavour-packed meat consommé served hot in the winter and cold in the summer. The dishes that follow are a journey into Austrian comfort flavours with complex side stories that surprise you over and over. Like the famous crowdpleaser “Trout and chocolate”, a dish where a pristine piece of trout is lightly cured and flamed with a bit of lard, topped with a crunchy veal head wafer and then served with iced, white chocolate and roasted mustard seeds. A highly unorthodox combination that however makes all the sense in the world when you try the savoury chocolate fuelled by vinegar and dill.
A plate that’s emerged as one of Frank’s signature dishes is the “Celery Ripe and Young”, a cunning take on a peasant ingredient such as celeriac root where steamed, thin slices of the root vegetable are dressed in a chicken bouillon and then served with generous shaving of no, not truffle, but a dried celeriac root. That’s right, a celeriac root that’s been salt-baked and then aged in the salt shell for 12 months, a process that produces a umami-packed bombshell that complements the young celeriac extraordinary well.
“A highly unorthodox combination that however makes all the sense in the world when you try the savoury chocolate fuelled by vinegar and dill.”
In terms of visual presentation the dishes at Horváth have developed tremendously, such as the striking yellow beet with smoked lard glaze and roasted poppy seeds or the marzipan pumpkin dessert where half the plate is dusted with a pitch black vegetable powder. Damn beautiful plates but, most importantly also damn delicious. Frank has become a master at at marrying ingredients in ways that you wouldn’t expect to work and this practice extends all the way to the last petits fours, a brilliant blood chocolate praline with brown butter that will redefine any concept you have on using blood in a dessert.
“Sebastian Frank has leaped onto a new level of excellence and confidence this year and is righteously celebrated as one of the best chefs in Berlin.”
I visited Horváth in the spring and in the fall and what during the first encounter was a good meal with a couple of dishes that didn’t convince fully, was in the fall a home-run out of the ballpark that convinced across all levels. Sebastian Frank has leaped onto a new level of excellence and confidence this year and is righteously celebrated as one of the best chefs in Berlin. Quite remarkable considering he’s working out of a house that dates back to the 1850’s. The venue might have a lot of charm, but it’s also slightly outdated and it is tangible how Frank’s ambitions have outgrown this location. Frank is one of the best representatives of Berlin on the global food scene and his food is without a doubt some of the most interesting and best fine dining you can have in Berlin right now. With a venue and kitchen to match his ambitions, the sky is the limit for him and his disciples.
Photo by Horváth
Photo by Horváth
Trout and Chocolate
“Young and Old Celeriac Root” components
Young and old Celeriac Root
Aged Celeriac Root in Satl Crust