Berlin chefs earn Michelin nods, global fans

Stars goose city's cuisine

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BERLIN — In the past year, Berlin has established itself as an international gourmet hotspot, as Germany rides a gastronomic wave to Michelin stars and international acclaim. Yes, you’re here for the festival, but now there’s another reason — to dine.

44 is the preserve of Tim Raue, voted Germany’s Chef of the Year 2007 by Gault Millau (18/20 points). This Michelin-starred temple of avant-garde cuisine is now one of the top eateries in the country.

“Food gives fun! Pure fun!” he enthuses. “You don’t need to think about it. Just bring fun to the palate. The palate must be woken up. So no starch. Acidity teases. Sweetness adds balance. Heat adds interest.”

Raue’s partner, Marie-Anne (“the only French thing in my life”), runs the front of the house.

Almodovar fans may take note of Atame. In the capable hands of Ghislaine Chapon, this place is more than just a tapas bar and bodega. The cuisine meanders through all of Spain’s regions as chef Falk Nestler rewrites the menu daily to reflect the freshest ingredients he’s found.

At least half the menu is fish or seafood, and lamb kebabs are also a standout.

The Lorenz Adlon, meanwhile, is unashamedly classic French with a twist.

Gault Millau-award winning maitre d’ and top Austrian sommelier Gerhard Retter effusively welcomes you to the plush, clublike ambiance of the book-lined dining area with its view of the Brandenburg Gate.

In the kitchen, Thomas Neeser brings his own creative influences to bear in this Michelin-starred home of Hauptstadt haute cuisine, with an emphasis on the personal touch.

“The aim is to find out what every person wants,” Retter says, “to meet their expectations and over-fulfill them. … The hardware is easy to copy, but without the software, the heat, you have nothing. This is about joy. Love!”

Facil‘s team of chef Michael Kempf, maitre d’ Manuel Finster and sommelier Felix Voges have not been resting on their 16 Gault Millau points and Michelin star.

The menu has been completely revamped to reflect the latest movements in contemporary haute cuisine while remaining true to Kempf’s philosophy of keeping things light but luxurious.

What chef Michael Hoffmann at his Michelin-starred Margaux can do with just a simple apple is astounding, according to food critics. But as his wife and colleague, Kathrin, says, “He pets the fish before filleting it and would get into the pot if he could.”

Well, one can excuse the eccentricities of the man who has created what he calls “cuisine avant-garde classique,” taking classic French cuisine in new directions.

“We take only the freshest of the fresh,” says Kathrin. “We know all the producers personally and are building up local suppliers. We only cook seasonal produce. Michael is definitely ahead of his time, taking basic elements and developing them. The produce tastes of itself, and we do a great deal of slow cooking.”

Kudos also to maitre d’ and sommelier Gesumino Pireddu.

Hoffmann also runs private cooking courses.

With its fiery torches, blaze of colors and hip-hop/ bhangra music, the brothers Harmeet and Bitu Bans’ Mirchi (which means the art of cooking with spices) takes Indian for its base and adds the influences of Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore to give, says Harmeet, “good food, good mood, good prices and atmosphere for everyone, whatever their age.”

The fresh-ingredients-only cuisine is supplemented with an open-ended happy hour. Manager Rishi Bhasin claims, “There’s no cocktail we can’t make.”

Mr. Long & Friends peddles some of the freshest Vietnamese cuisine in Berlin, with many original dishes.

It’s not that Berlin lacks for Italian restaurants, but going beyond pizza and pasta is Parioli.

At Rocco Forte’s new, tony Hotel de Rome, chef Pietro Amato (ably assisted by maitre d’ Karl Franek and his enthusiastic team) provides a gastronomic tour de forza, crossing the regions and adding twists of his own, like tortellone, flavored with cocoa and filled with wild boar, in plum sauce.

Vegetarians and fish lovers are also given equal weight on a menu that places its emphasis on subtlety and the interplay of simple but supreme quality.

Paris-Moskau is Wolfram Ritschl’s half-timbered haven. Inside (“all very Russian modernism, all very Berlin,” says Ritschl) is where chef Sven Holwitt, assisted by Vivian Kruligk, draws on seasonal produce for his constantly changing menu.

“Our cuisine is like a series of concentric circles,” Ritschl says. “We start with a German basis and then spread outwards across Europe and the Mediterranean, heading onwards to Asia and Latin America.”

With the attentive service team under Angela Penz, Paris-Moskau’s unique location, in the city center yet surrounded by undeveloped real estate, lends an ambiance you cannot buy.

Vietnam-born The Duc Ngo “always dreamed of having a gourmet temple with top food,” and his Shiro i Shiro (Japanese for White Castle) is where the foodie faithful flock.

Neobaroque, Asian-edged design by Korean Huynjung Kim (think Marie Antoinette meets modern Oriental minimalism) has passers-by coming in just to admire, while the menu — the creation of French-trained Eduard Dimant — has them staying for a meal.

“We serve international gourmet cooking with an Asian influence,” says the owner. “French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, even U.S. influences come into play. Forget fusion, we have gone back to the roots of good, basic haute cuisine, bringing in the influences so they all coexist together in harmony.”

As the patron and head chef of Vau, Kolja Kleeberg keeps all ingredients expertly simple. Whether local game, fish or vegetables, Kleeberg adds influences as he finds them and as his mood takes him. Then he winks and tells you, “It’s Berlin cuisine! Because it gives me the greatest freedom to realize our totally unique Vau cuisine and is a reflection of the living culture of the city in which I live.”

With its traditional, timelessly elegant interior and modern art, warm lighting and wood panels, Vau prides itself on delivering an experience best described as eating with friends at a friend’s.


Address: In the Swissotel, Augsburger Strasse 44
How To Get There: U1/U9 Kurfurstendamm
Phone: +49 30 22 010 2288
Seats: 90
Smoking: Permitted
Reservations: Very recommended
Credit Cards: All major cards
Dinner For Two With Wine: 240 euros

Address: Dircksen Strasse 40
How To Get There: S-Bhf Hackescher Markt
Phone: +49 30 2804 2560
Seats: 75 (30 at the bar)
Smoking: Permitted
Reservations: Recommended
Credit Cards: Eurocard, Visa
Dinner For Two With Wine: 55 euros

Address: Unter den Linden 77
How To Get There: S-Bhf Unter den Linden or walk from Potsdamer Platz
Phone: +49 30 2261 1960
Seats: 35
Smoking: Nonsmoking
Reservations: Yes
Credit Cards: All major cards accepted
Dinner For Two With Wine: 200 euros

Address: In the Mandala Hotel, Potsdamer Strasse 3
How To Get There: S-Bhf/U-Bhf Potsdamer Platz
Phone: +49 30 5900 51 234; toll free +49 (0)800-GO-FACIL (0800 463 2245)
Seats: 48
Smoking: Permitted but much space between tables and a hyper-efficient ventillation system
Reservations: Yes
Credit Cards: All major cards accepted
Dinner For Two With Wine: 220 euros

Address: Unter den Linden 78, entrance Wilhelm Strasse
How To Get There: S-Bhf Unter den Linden or walk from Potsdamer Platz
Phone: +49 30 2265 2611
Seats: 70 (up to 100 for events)
Smoking: Discouraged during eating, places at the bar
Reservations: Yes
Credit Cards: All major cards accepted
Dinner For Two With Wine: Up to 240 euros

Address: Oranienburger Strasse 50
How To Get There: U6 Oranienburger Tor / S-Bhf Oranienburger Strasse
Phone: +49 30 2804 5482
Seats: 180
Smoking: Permitted
Reservations: Recommended, especially on weekends
Credit Cards: All major cards accepted
Dinner For Two With Wine: 60 euros

Address: Kollwitz Strasse 80
How To Get There: U2 Sennefelder Platz, seven-minute walk
Phone: +49 30 4430 8493
Seats: 35
Smoking: Permitted
Reservations: Essential
Credit Cards: Cash only
Dinner For Two With Wine: 60 euros

Address: In the Hotel de Rome, Behren Strasse 37
How To Get There: U6 Franzoesische Strasse
Phone: + 49 30 460 6091201
Seats: 116
Smoking: Separate smoking and nonsmoking areas
Reservations: Recommended
Credit Cards: All major cards accepted
Dinner For Two With Wine: 220 euros

Address: Alt-Moabit 141
Phone: +49 30 394 2081
Seats: 80
Smoking: Permitted
Reservations: Recommended
Credit Cards: None, but EC card accepted
Dinner For Two With Wine: 200 euros

Address: Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse 11
How To Get There: U-Bhf/S-Bhf Alexanderplatz
Phone: +49 30 9700 4790
Seats: 100 (can sit up to 130 for events)
Smoking: Smoking and no-smoking areas
Reservations: Yes
Credit Cards: All major cards accepted
Dinner For Two With Wine: 200 euros

Address: Jaeger Strasse 54/55
How To Get There: U2 Hausvogteiplatz
Phone: +49 30 202 9730
Seats: 90
Smoking: “We’re working on separating them,” says the management.
Reservations: Yes
Credit Cards: All major cards accepted
Dinner For Two With Wine: 240 euros

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