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Berlin Review

p
pace Feb 8, 2010 07:28 PM

Back from Berlin and want to thank linguafoods and Trip Klause for your time and great suggestions by reporting on where we ate and what we thought.

First, we loved Berlin and wished we could have stayed longer! And, we were very happy with all the restaurants we went to. The ambience, service, and friendliness of a restaurant are as important to us as the food, and we were very pleased with all of those aspects as we ate our way through Berlin.

While there are jokes floating around these and other food boards to the contrary, in all the places we ate we found restaurant staff to be extremely friendly, happy to chat, and downright jovial!

If we had one complaint it is that we found the food – across the board – to be too heavily salted. In all fairness, I should say that we never add salt to food we eat in restaurants and use very little salt when cooking at home. So, while it might just be us, we thought the food was on the salty side everywhere we ate.

I am including the specific dishes we ordered, because we were very pleased with each.

Of the restaurants we went to, our favorites were Weinbar Rutz and Renger-Patzsch.

At Rutz, we had dinner upstairs and ordered the 4-course “surprise menu” with wine pairings. They were very accommodating about substitutions, when I asked that my meal not include any meat other than poultry. (Note that they do not serve the upstairs menu downstairs, nor the downstairs menu upstairs.) The place is visually striking, with its full glass wall downstairs that has floor-to-ceiling shelves on which empty wine bottles are treated like pieces of sculpture. A flight of pink stone-looking stairs (are they alabaster??) lead to the upstairs restaurant, which is dimly lighted with a candle on each table. The upstairs room is shaped like a “U” and is open in the center, allowing a view of the downstairs bar. We were seated along the front window wall, where -- outside the glass wall -- there’s a narrow balcony with concrete flower boxes planted with grape vines.

Each of the four courses consisted of about 4 wonderful small items, presented on narrow, rectangular white plates. Sorry I can’t recall everything we were served, but it was all terrific! Here’s what I can remember, but some courses included one item more than listed below.

1st course: sliced duck breast, foie gras, elderberry sorbet, aspic

2nd course: pike perch over cubed Jerusalem artichokes, potato and sauerkraut mash

3rd course: venison and pumpkin 3-ways (for the meat-eater)
vegetable dish for the non-meat-eater – spinach pasta topped with fresh spinach leaves, beet root puree, golden beets, baked feta cheese

4th course: apple strudel, port wine ice cream over honeyed apples, cubes of green apple aspic, chocolate/coffee cake

The cost for this 3-1/2 hour feast was 62 euros pp for food, 43 euros pp for wine. I regret that I cannot say what the wines were, but they were German and French, all white wines except for the venison course, sweet wines for the duck and dessert courses, all moderate pours – not huge, but not stingy.

The room at Renger-Patzsch looked stark and bright to us at first, but we fell in love with the place’s black and white photos (taken by the restaurant’s namesake) and its overall ambience – wooden benches, wainscoting, and table tops, frosted hanging globe ceiling fixtures, pretty bar upfront. We had read that seating is at communal tables, but there are two- and four-tops and all parties were seated individually while we were there. We got there at 8:30 PM and the room started getting busy at about 9:30 PM.

For a starter we shared the vegetarian Alsatian tarte of leeks, walnuts, and blue cheese (8 euros). It was so good that I wish I had one right now! It was very large and we were only able to eat half, then took the rest home. It would still be a lot to eat if ordered as an entrée for one person.

For mains, we had the beef shoulder (in red wine sauce with carrots, parsnips, dates wrapped in bacon, and potato rosemary cakes – 14 euros) and the quail chops (with porcini risotto and grilled vegetables – 15 euros). The quail was excellent, but the risotto was a little undercooked.

So, having said that those were our favorite restaurants, we also loved Reinhard’s and
Lutter & Wegner.

We had a fantastic dinner at the Reinhard’s on the Ku’damm. First, 6 Fines de Claires “G” oysters (15 euros) and 6 Tsarskaya oysters (17 euros) to share. Then, Barberie duck breast with cassis sauce, green beans, and an entire BOWL of creamy potato gratin. Yum, one of the best entrees of the visit! Our other main was beef bourguignon with mashed parsley potatoes and vegetables (17 euros). For dessert, we shared what was called a “chocolate parfait.” When we asked what was in it, our waitress explained that it had “Christmas spices,” which turned out to be cinnamon and nutmeg.

We had a late, light lunch at Lutter & Wegner, which is right across from the Gendarmenmarkt. We loved the room, with all the modern art – paintings and sculpture – on every surface, even the room’s columns. Lovely, with white tablecloths and warm service. We started with Celeste consommé (7 euros) and cauliflower veloute with smoked duck (7 euros). Next courses were beef tartar (16 euros) and what was called a smoked sturgeon “parfait”, although it did not at all resemble what we call a parfait. Attractively laid out on a plate were slices of wonderful smoked sturgeon and salmon along with quail eggs.

We also enjoyed Marjellchen and Leibniz-Klause, which seemed similar to us in that the dining rooms and menus of both were more traditional than modern.

At Marjellchen, where the room was very cozy and the service very accommodating, we started by sharing fried and breaded mushrooms in garlic cream, too large a portion to finish. One of our second courses was the cold appetizer of Pomeranian duck breast (with apple rings and cream). The other was calves liver with mashed potatoes, onions, and baked apple rings. As good as all that was, dessert turned out to be the highlight of the meal – “Tipsy prunes”, which were prunes in a sauce of brandy, rum, sugar, and crunchy oats, served with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. OMG good!! (Sorry, I did not write down prices at this meal.)

At Leibniz-Klause we started with broccoli gratineed with gorgonzola (delish – 11.50 euros and worth every bit of it) and oxtail soup (6.50 euros). Our mains were chicken fricassee (white wine sauce, peas, mushrooms, white asparagus) with buttered rice (13.50 euros) and pork stinko (riesen eisbein) with sauerkraut, horseradish, mustard, and mashed peas (15 euros). For dessert we had apple strudel with vanilla ice cream (6.50 euros) plus chocolate mousse with whipped cream (7 euros). (This was late in the trip and we were past sharing a dessert!)

We had a very nice lunch at KaDeWe’s Silberterrasse Restaurant. We did not have starters there. One main was Kalbsschnitzel (2 huge pieces) with warm potato salad with bacon (17.90 euros). For the other we had “graved lachs” – a beautiful salmon plate (with the edges dredged in finely chopped dill), the best potato fritters, honey mustard dill sauce, raw vegetables, and lettuces (14.90 euros). This dish was actually listed on the menu as an appetizer, but was large enough for a light main course.

We also had a pleasant light lunch at Literaturhaus Café. Rigatoni with rabbit ragu and a tomato, mozzarella, and olive pesto sandwich on ciabatta. It’s a calm, quiet and relaxed café on a pretty side street.

My least favorite dinner of the trip was probably at Austeria Brasserie. While the food was good, I just didn’t think it was up to the same standards as the restaurants listed above. The service was very professional and very friendly. The room was rather stark and bland. (I feel badly writing this because there was nothing really wrong with the place. The food was good and our waiter could not have been nicer. I just didn’t love it like I did the other restaurants we went to. Plus, when we were there, all the other diners were also tourists, a situation I really do not prefer.) We started with cucumber salad (6 euros) and lobster bisque with a seafood ravioli (9 euros). For our main courses we had a ½ cooked lobster (27 euros) and a “ladies portion” (150g) of filet with bérnaise sauce and potatoes (18 euros). For dessert we shared a 3-cheese plate – goat, cow, sheep – accompanied by grapes, walnuts, and mustard fig.

As for wine, we ordered only German wines and followed Klause’s suggestions – and as a result, we were very pleased. We had mostly red wines with our meals. As aperitifs, we discovered sekt and aperol sekt. Despite reading in Time Out Berlin that German red wines are not very good, we found them to be very enjoyable. We liked the 2007 Kasleberg Spatburgunder from Salwey (there’s an umlaut over the first “a” of each word, I just don’t know how to make the correct marks with my keyboard), the 2007 Mathias Gaul Pas de Deux , and the 2006 Mathias Gaul Spatburgunder, from Pfalz.

We also discovered German bitters. Our favorite was Borgman, followed by Underberg. Also tried Radeburger Bitter, which was a little too strong for our taste.

I believe that’s it! Thank you again for your help in finding memorable restaurants and meals in Berlin. We can’t wait to return!!

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  1. f
    Fuffy Apr 23, 2010 02:54 AM

    Thanks VERY much. Exactly what we need for our forthcoming visit.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Fuffy
      p
      pace Mar 4, 2011 08:40 AM

      Fuffy -- I just saw your post! If you're out there, I'd love to hear where you ate during your Berlin visit.

      1. re: pace
        f
        Fuffy Mar 19, 2011 02:41 PM

        Berlin Report

        Alas, we didn’t make full use of the helpful Chowhound advice. We felt rushed so instead of going out of our way to travel to the best restaurants, we usually ate near wherever we happened to be and, as you can see, became obsessed with asparagus soup. May is asparagus time and every place has a similar menu of various soups and combos. None very expensive and prices overall surprisingly low. Many places offer 5-6 euro lunch specials though many of our meals were closer to Paris prices

        In Mitte We liked Chowhound recommendation SCHWARZWALDSTUBEN, Tucholskystrasse 48. Tel 030 28 09 80 84. Informal and very inexpensive. We had mounds of fried- with- egg- and- leek stuffed spatzle (?) and salad. One dish with 1 glass of riesling 12.70 euros. Said to be noisy and crowded in the evening. We had two pleasant lunches at their outdoor tables on quiet street. Roughly a 15 minute walk from the top of Museum Island.

        Also in Mitte is a Michelin listing which is conveniently in a courtyard off a central Mitte street NEU, at Orianenburger strasse, 32. Tel. 030 66 40 84 27
        I think Michelin describes the style as modern international.We had asparagus soup, asparagus mousse, calves liver with apples and mashed potatoes, juicy chicken breast with “caramelized” salad. Three cheeses. One of us had the three course 19 euro lunch. Altogether with 4 glasses of wine and bottled water our two meals cost 45 euros. All good and in an appealing quiet place with glassed section and outdoor patio. Roughly a fifteen minute walk from the top of Museum Island.

        Also in Mitte near our apartment we stumbled upon Italian restaurant LOCANDA PAVIE. Ackerstrasse 17. Tel 030 28387722 Generally looked expensive; made a silly businesses of pouring our four glasses of wine and refused to serve free tap water but we had only their excellent 12 euro pastas and were very happy. One was asparagus, shaved black truffles and cream, the other a delicious shellfish pasta. Two pastas and four glasses of wine 45 euros. The kitchen is in the middle of the room. Small so better book.

        In the same street (north end of Ackerstrasse)is a crowded, popular and very good pizza place. In the evening arrive early to avoid line. Our pizzas were 6.50 euros each. Two pizzas with beer and bottled water 18 euros.

        Also in Mitte we had dinner at MAXWELL , Bergsrasse 22. which our Time Out guide raves over. Tel 030 2807 121. Formal with napkins in spires and over-starched tablecloths but in a courtyard in a handsome old brewery. We had an excellent foamy asparagus soup, a decent plain roast veal with mashed potatoes, four snow peas and a dry crepe triangle. Also not good beef broth and not good assortment of hors d’oeuvres. Four dishes and three glasses of wine 60 euros. Our worst price/quality ratio.

        Near Kurfustendamm our favorite was Chowhound recommendation LITERATURHAUS. Fasanenstrasse, 23. Tel 030 88 25 414. . Literaturhaus is a foundation to promote German literature and a bookshop in a nineteenth century villa. It is near the Kathe Kollwitz Museum. A lovely place with rooms, a conservatory and tables in the garden for dining. We had two meals there. Once three of us had asparagus soup; then steak with mushrooms; roast veal with chive & cream sauce; and little sausages and mash with horseradish and apple sauce. With a bottle of Riesling, bottled water and good coffees 105 euros for three. Another time we had waffles and berries and delicious potato pancakes with applesauce for brunch, for all of 18 euros.(with coffee and a ginger lemon drink recommended by a neighbouring table).

        Same area near Savigny Place we liked Time Out recommendation FLORIAN, Grolmanstr. 52. Telephone 030 313 91 84. www.restaurant-florian.de We arrived early, completely full later. We had good asparagus soup, adequate beef broth, delicious veal in cream and mushroom sauce, OK boiled beef. With one aquavit, half a bottle of French wine, and bottled water 68.30 euros .Time Out says evenings only.

        Also near Savigny Place and our hotel, we liked Chowhound recommendation very friendly MARJELLCHEN, Mommsenstr. 9.Tel. 030 883 26 78 . We had a dish of calves liver with onions, apple and mashed potatoes, and pigs knuckle in sauce with good bacon sautéed potatoes and a dull shredded cabbage salad. We liked the cheery owner’s favorite German wine and local decor. Two dishes, half a bottle of wine, bottled water 43.90 euros. Open 5 pm on. Specialties are from East Prussia, Pomerania and Silesia.

        We also went to two branches of Lutter and Wegner. Although the Charlottenstrasse, 56 branch has many outdoor tables and attractively local interior, we didn’t think the food at either one was up to scratch and not worthy of their Michelin listing.

        1. re: Fuffy
          s
          suzieq4 Mar 20, 2011 07:34 PM

          Fuffy,
          Glad you liked Florian - my husband and I have eaten there twice and I really like it. It is fun to people watch while you are there too. We have never made it back after 11 pm for the nuremberger sausages. Did you eat at Lutter and Wegner on Schulterstrasse in Savignyplatz? We have eaten there a number of times and it is very good (not sure if Michelin level) . My husband thinks they have the best wienerschnitzel. (it is so big it covers the whole plate and more. ) This Lutter and Wegner is the original and is not connected to the other Lutter and Wegners.
          Thanks so much for giving up all your run down on your eats.

          1. re: suzieq4
            f
            Fuffy Mar 22, 2011 02:08 AM

            Suzieq4, I'm sorry I can't remember which branches of Lutter and Wegner.

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