Foodies dig into starry scene at Berlinale

Neighborhood hot spots offer gastro delights

For the second year running it’s official: Berlin is the gourmet capital of Germany, with 12 restaurants sharing 13 Michelin stars, ahead of Hamburg’s 11 and Munich’s 10.

Berlin’s top restaurant remains Fischers Fritz, with chef Christian Lohse keeping his two Michelin stars.

Michael Hoffmann at Margaux picked up 18 out of 20 Gault Millau points and a Michelin star to join the many framed accolades already lining the restaurant’s staircase wall. He has revamped his menu according to organic and ecological criteria. That means out with forced-fed goose liver, in with locally produced organic meat from Brandenburg, out with threatened fish species (such as tuna) and in with vegetables. The proud owner of a 2,000-square-meter garden in Potsdam, Hoffmann has taken grow-your-own truly to heart.

Others have kept their stars: Facil, First Floor, Hugos, the Lorenz Adlon, Quadriga, Reinstoff, Vau and Weinbar Rutz (unfortunately closed for renovation till March).

In fact, Berlin even welcomed two newcomers to the Michelin ranks: Stefan Hartmann (at Hartmanns) received his first, and the Restaurant Tim Raue picked up one as well.

But starry or not, Berlin’s eateries continue to offer something for everyone at all prices. Don’t forget to reserve in good time.

The southeastern district of Neukolln might not figure too often on the gastro-radar, being better known for its dodgy doner kebabs, but Mariamulata is worth seeking out for an expedition into Spanish and South American cuisine.

Here, Diego Leon Monedero Escobar offers classical and not-so-classical tapas, as well as the gamut of South American cooking, such as duck breast in mango sauce with rice or lamb chops with apple-vegetable sauce. The wine list is Spanish-Portuguese, and there are no prizes for guessing where the outstanding coffee comes from.

Friedrichshain is one of those up-and-coming areas beloved by realtors, which also explains why Kreuz Friedrichs still has a bit of the air of a construction site about it. But the restaurant serves some of the finest in New German Cuisine and with Mediterranean notes.

The menu is deliberately limited (six starters, six main courses and three desserts) to concentrate on quality, but when it includes, for example, strong consomme, pink duck breast in a sweet and hearty Port wine sauce with mashed potatoes and carrots, or a hefty portion of steak, fries, spinach and Parmesan, the less-than-ideal neighborhood ambiance is forgotten.

Kantine is the German word for canteen, but what’s in a name when the food is this good? All too easy to walk past, Maren Thimm’s restaurant places the emphasis on the eats, giving chef Gary Hoopengarder room to flex his culinary muscles. Terrine of goose liver with morels? Macadamia nut puree? Saffron polenta? Knuckle of lamb? The menu changes daily.

Austrian cuisine from the glory days of the Dual Monarchy is the specialty of the Gasthaus Alt Wien, where the wood-clad walls and stout wooden tables tell guests no one here goes home hungry, and Fred Koller and Sibylle Hassfurther make sure that’s the case.

Beef soup and dumplings makes a great starter, but then comes the Wiener Schnitzel as it should be, large, hammered flat, golden brown and crispy, served with potato salad, or boiled beef (Tafelspitz) with freshly grated horseradish (Kren). Finish with the Esterhazy-Palatschinken, pancakes filled with hazelnut creme, or the Kaiserschmarrn, cut-up and sugared pancakes with raisins.

The area to the north of Torstrasse is another that was long overdue for gentrification, but now that it has been given the hip name of Noto (as in North of Torstrasse), it won’t be long before the apartments go up (pre-sales are steaming ahead) and in anticipation, the Noto has already opened its doors.

Plain and simply decorated, with wooden tables and a large iron bar dominating the room, this is where owner Ronald Marx welcomes guests to a small and daily-changing selection of such Italian-American-inspired gems such as watermelon-tomato soup with prawn, risotto with octopus or veal spareribs.

Already a magnet for people outside the locality, Noto is relaxed and friendly with an open kitchen that invites you to stick your head in and say hello.

Cold winters call for substantial fare, and Jager und Sammler (Hunters and Gatherers) provides with solid, hearty cooking served in a wooden-floored, stucco-ceiling ambiance, with plain wood tables and a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf stuffed full of cookery books.

The daily menu (two starters, five mains and a dessert) contains comfort dishes such as creamy pumpkin soup, salad with crispy fried aubergine, filet of beef with cheesy potatoes and Italian broccoli and ravioli with cinnamon, ricotta and parmesan.

Bright and colorful don’t come near describing the decor of the newly opened Nhow music and lifestyle hotel, but its restaurant, Fabrics, is where chef Patrick Rexhausen is aspiring to gastronomic heights.

First out of the kitchen, an amuse bouche of pickled cucumber, then hors d’oeuvres of lukewarm goat’s cheese with herbs and ikarimi salmon, white halibut and Breton lobster — Rexhausen is not afraid to try something new. Then how about lobster ravioli or French corn-fed chicken, served with vegetables al dente? For those who like things the old school way, there is Chateaubriand and free-range duck.

Afterwards, if you are so minded or, indeed, able, you can speed up the digestion process by taking a turn round the Nhow’s very own ice rink.

Germany’s capital offers a dish for every taste

Address: Nhow Hotel, Stralauer Allee 3, 10245
How to get there: U-Bhf / S-Bhf Warschauer Strasse
Phone: +49 30 29 02 99 41 07
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Address: The Mandala Hotel, Potsdamer Strasse 3, 10785
How to get there: U-Bhf / S-Bhf Potsdamer Platz
Phone: +49 30 59 00 51 234
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First Floor
Address: Hotel Palace, Budapester Strasse 45, 10787
How to get there: U-Bhf Wittenbergplatz
Phone: +49 30 25 02 10 20
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Fischers Fritz
Address: The Regent Hotel, Charlottenstrasse 49, 10117
How to get there: U-Bhf Franzosische Strasse
Phone: +49 30 20 33 63 63
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Gasthaus Alt Wien
Address: Hufelandstrasse 22, 10407
How to get there: Bus 200, Tram M4
Phone: +49 30 70 12 96 10
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Address: Fichtestrasse 31, 10967 Berlin
How to get there: U-Bhf Sudstern
Phone: +49 30 61 20 10 03
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Address: Hotel InterContinental, Budapester Strasse 2, 10787
How to get there: U-Bhf Wittenbergplatz
Phone: +49 30 26 02 12 63
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Jager und Sammler
Address: Grunewaldstrasse 81, 10823
How to get there: U-Bhf Eisenacher Strasse
Phone: +49 30 70 09 40 84
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Address: Joachimstrasse 11
How to get there: U-Bhf Rosenthaler Platz
Phone: +49 30 61 11 412 / +49 173 99 79 037
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Kreuz Friedrichs
Address: Rudersdorfer Strasse 70, 10243
How to get there: S-Bhf Ostbahnhof
Phone: +49 30 29 36 02 10
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Lorenz Adlon
Address: Hotel Adlon Kempinski, Unter den Linden 77
How to get there: U-Bhf / S-Bhf Brandenburger Tor
Phone: +49 30 22 61 19 60
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Address: Unter den Linden 78, entrance in Wilhelmstrasse, 10117
How to get there: U-Bhf / S-Bhf Brandenburger Tor
Phone: +49 30 22 65 26 11
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Address: Wildenbruchstrasse 88, 12045
How to get there: U-Bhf Rathaus Neukolln
Phone: +49 163 91 89 597
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Address: Torstrasse 173, 10115
How to get there: U-Bhf Rosenthaler Platz
Phone: +49 30 20 09 53 87
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Address: Brandenburger Hof Hotel, Eislebener Strasse 14, 10789
How to get there: U-Bhf Augsburger Strasse
Phone: +49 30 21 40 56 51
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Address: Edison Hofe, Schlegel Strasse 26, 10115
How to get there: U-Bhf Zinnowitzer Strasse / S-Bhf Nordbahnhof
Phone: +49 30 30 88 12 14
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Restaurant Tim Raue
Address: Rudi-Dutschke-Strasse 26, 10969
How to get there: U-Bhf Kochstrasse
Phone: +49 30 25 93 79 30
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Address: Jagerstrasse 54, 10117 Berlin
How to get there: U-Bhf Franzosische Strasse / U-Bhf Hausvogteiplatz
Phone: +49 30 20 29 73 0
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