Wide range of options awaits hungry festgoers

BERLIN — No matter how good the movies are at the Berlin fest, sooner or later you’re going to have to eat something.

Name your cuisine, name your budget, as befits a Berlin-sized capital city, and you’ll find it here.

Thanks to a large local community, Thai food is well represented. Indian can be a mixed blessing but there are some gems, such as Namaskar and Meena Kumari (Bollywood fans take note). International is code for Croatian. Italian? Ristorantes are abundant. The only real disappointment is Chinese cuisine, as there are no seriously good places in the city.

Variety‘s crack gastronomes have been there, seen it and eaten it — here are our tips for dining well in Berlin.

Carnivores should bypass Tony Roma’s Ribs at Potsdamerplatz (tourist prices and bad service) and head for the marvelously meaty Midtown Grill in the Marriott, with a menu that sports a separate steak section.

Across the road is Cancun — not as authentic as the resort but it’s fun Mexican, big portions and very reasonable prices.

For those wishing to stay North of the Border, head for the burgers and ribs at Andy’s Diner, although Frau Wolff, the manager, doesn’t think anyone can make it through three courses. The Ritz-Carlton hotel is home to the Brasserie Desbrosses, which features French-accented international cuisine with traditional Berlin and U.S. specialties — its seafood platter is its highlight — and chef de cuisine Thomas Kellermann’s extremely gourmet, Mediterranean-influenced Vitrum.

Latter was voted Germany’s third-best restaurant 2005 by Feinschmecker magazine. Both offer the choice, quality and service you’d expect at prices you probably wouldn’t.

Venturing farther afield, take the s-bahn to Hackescher Markt, wander the streets, read the menus and take the plunge. You can’t go wrong,even — with its small portions and service with attitude — at the often-lauded Schwarze Raben For the best of Italy with a Tuscan accent go to Bocca Di Bacco in Friedrichstrasse, a favorite hangout for celebs, politicos and foodies.

And for an experience that makes dining in most restaurants seem like mere eating, it has to be the newly refurbished and Michelin- starred Facil in the Mandala, the hotel formerly known as the Madison Berlin.

Just an elevator ride from the lobby, in at atmosphere of totally feng-shui’d understatement, chef de cuisine Michael Kempf conjures up creations that should be illegal. Maitre’d Manuel Finister captains the service team while sommelier Felix Voges knows his rouges from blancs and is happy to discourse, educate and explain.

The total adds up to a gourmet dining experience greater than the sum of its parts.

MEENA KUMARI
Cuisine: Traditional Southeast Asianspecialties
Address: Lychenerstr. 9
How to get there: U2, Eberswalderstrasse
Phone: (030) 44 05 25 45
Internet: www.meenakumari.de
Email: info@meenakumari
Seats: 40
Reservations: Advisable, especially at the weekend
Credit cards: All accepted
Dinner for two, with wine: around e50 euros
Reasons to go: Variety’s Berlin staff says so!

NAMASKAR
Cuisine: Original Indian
Address: Pariserstr. 56-57
How to get there: U9/U3, Spichernstrasse
Phone: (030) 88 68 06 48
Internet: www.restaurantnamaskar.de
Email: dnamaskar@aol.com
Seats: 50
Reservations: Advisable
Credit cards: All accepted
Dinner for two, with wine: around e65
Reasons to go: 13 points in the Gault Millau Guide. Trust a Brit, this is the real deal!

CANCUN
Cuisine: Mexican, TexMex, American
Address: Ebertsr. 14 / Voss Str. 20
How to get there: Short walk from Potsdamerplatz
Phone: (030) 20 91 16 66
Internet: www.cancun-restaurant.de
Email: info@cancun-restaurant.de
Seats: 450
Reservations: Not unusually necessary but weekends get busy
Credit cards: All taken
Dinner for two, with wine: e40-e60
Reasons to go: Bright, brash, fun, friendly

BOCCA DI BACCO
Cuisine: Italian with a Tuscan accent
Address: Friedrichstr. 167
How to get there: S-Bhf/U-Bhf Friedrichstr., U8 Franzosischerstr., U2 Stadtmitte
Phone: (030) 20 67 28 28
Internet: www.boccadibacco.de
Email: info@boccadibacco.de
Seats: 120
Reservations: Necessary
Credit cards: All except Diners Club
Dinner for two, with wine: around e120
Reasons to go: 14 Gault Millau points. Will make you forget it’s February and you’re in Berlin.

MIDTOWN GRILL, MARRIOTT HOTEL
Cuisine: Steakhouse, some fish alternatives
Address: Ebertstr. 3
How to get there: S-Bhf/U-Bhf Potsdamerplatz
Phone: (030) 22 00 06 41 0
Internet: www.midtown-grill.de
Email: restaurant@midtown-grill.de
Seats: 120
Reservations: Requested
Credit cards: All accepted
Dinner for two, with wine: around e80
Reasons to go: Frau Gradzielski, restaurant coordinator. Steaks to die for with martinis James Bond would kill for.

BRASSERIE DESBROSSES
Cuisine: French-accented international
Address: Hotel Ritz-Carlton, Potsdamerplatz 3
How to get there: S-Bhf/U-Bhf Potsdamerplatz
Phone: (030) 33 77 75 40 00
Internet: www.desbrosses.de
Email: robert.loeser@ritzcarlton.com
Seats: 150
Reservations: Recommended
Credit cards: All accepted
Dinner for two: Around e70
Reasons to go: The food. The food. The food. And the service.

VITRUM
Cuisine: Haute European with Italian influences
Address: Hotel Ritz-Carlton, Potsdamerplatz 3
How to get there: S-Bhf/U-Bhf Potsdamerplatz
Phone: (030) 33 77 75 40 00
Internet: www.ritzcarlton.com
Email: ccr.berlin@ritzcarlton.com
Seats: 64
Reservations: Recommended
Credit cards: All accepted
Dinner for two: Around e140 euros; prixe fixe menu, e98, with wine
Reasons to go: Voted one of Germany’s top restaurants. Terry the doorman — he’s from Detroit

ANDY’S DINER & BAR
Cuisine: American
Address: Potsdamerplatz 1
How to get there: S-Bhf/U-Bhf Potsdamerplatz
Phone: (030) 23 00 49 90
Internet: www.andysdiner.de
Email: andysdiner@gmx.de
Seats: 60
Reservations: Recommended
Credit cards: All accepted
Dinner for two, with wine: e35; three-course Berlinale business lunch, e6.90
Reasons to go: Portions worthy of the name. Fun and friendly service.

NAME: FACIL
Cuisine: Haute European with Mediterranean influences
Address: The Mandala Hotel, Postdamerstr. 3
How to get there: S-Bhf/U-Bhf Potsdamerplatz
Phone: (030) 59 00 51 23 4
Internet: www.facil.de
Email: welcome@facil.de
Seats: 48
Reservations: Necessary
Credit cards: All accepted
Dinner for two, with wine: e240
Reasons to go: One Michelin star, stunning interior design

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