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Das Kapital: Good eating at Berlin

Berlin Film Festival Preview 2012

It’s getting to be a habit — for the third year running Berlin is the official gourmet capital of Germany.

Two eateries picked up their second Michelin star: the Lorenz Adlon (with chef Hendrik Otto) and Reinstoff (chef Daniel Achilles).

It’s an achievement in itself to nab a Michelin star, but more so considering that Otto only took over the Lorenz Adlon in April 2010 and Achilles opened Reinstoff’s doors in March 2009, winning his first star just one year later.

A new single-starred restaurant also graces Berlin’s foodie firmament. Horvath, located in the artsy district of Kreuzberg, is home to chef Sebastian Frank, who left his native Austria, bringing the cuisine with him, only 18 months or so ago.

Will success go to Frank’s head and your wallet? Frank says he will continue to cook as before and the prices remain the same: “We understand this as confirmation of our work and are very happy,” he says.

Keeping their single stars are perennial gastro goodies Quadriga, Facil, First Floor, Hugos, Weinbar Rutz and Vau, while Fischers Fritz remains double starred.

All this means Berlin now celebrates three two-star restaurants, with a city total of 13 stars, ahead of Munich’s 11 and Hamburg’s nine.

Rival guide Gault Millau, which awards points instead of stars and favors experimental menus, named Tim Raue, of Restaurant Tim Raue, one of its best 12 chefs in the country, giving him a score of 19/20 — Berlin’s top-rating.

Christian Lohse of seafoodery Fischers Fritz, the previous 19/20 holder, this time scored 18/20. This leaves him in joint silver position with the vegetable maestro Michael Hoffmann of Margaux. He bought and planted his own field to produce the “more surprise, more change, more emotion” the testers wanted.

Quadriga, Facil, First Floor, Hugos, Rutz and Vau remain the unchallenged first division with 17/20. Gault Millau named Franz Hoeckner, of the Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin, its Barkeeper of the Year.

It’s important to note that reservations are essential, and increasingly more restaurants no longer accept EC, debit or credit cards, just cash.

Platzhirsch on Arkonaplatz in the tony Mitte district is two living rooms joined together. It’s a family-run, friendly and comfy restaurant specializing in neue Deutsche kueche (new German cuisine) with a Mediterranean flair. Everything is sourced locally, from the venison to the Brandenburg duck and the Havel River pike.

Der Hahn Ist Tot! (The Cock Is Dead!) is where you choose from a sanely priced four-course menu that changes twice weekly. There are three or four starters, main courses and a couple of deserts. What you get is delicious, simple home cooking, German and French, no frills.

Papa Pane di Sorrento is loud and crowded. If you want a quiet evening to talk business, go elsewhere. If you want huge starters that really need to be smaller to leave some room for the enormous main courses, including unfeasibly large pizzas and mounds of homemade pasta, then come here. It’s great food at excellent prices.

Remember a time when music came on black vinyl and not in bits and bytes? Il Giradischi (Italian for “turntable”) does, with walls festooned with album covers and a menu designed as a double album, in its own sleeve. This is where to come for superb pizza, cooked in a wood-fired oven and eaten to the accompaniment of the records that diners select. The service is also genuinely Italian.

Hamburger lovers won’t find better than those at Bird. Big, juicy, make sure you eat one with plenty of beer.

Taking its name from a department store once located on the site, Fabisch is the restaurant in the Circus Hotel at Rosenthaler Platz. Although it’s easy to walk past, word has got out that this is where to come for more of the ever-improving and exciting new German cuisine, such as goose with dumplings and red cabbage or Havel fish. Of course, all ingredients are local and seasonal. The service is young, friendly and attentive.

The combined dining room, bar and lounge makes lingering, either at your table or on one of the Chesterfield sofas, an excellent way to digest, helped by the great selection of wines, spirits and cocktails. Fabisch also has an inhouse cake maker, whose talents are a constant draw. The coffee is of the highest quality, too.

Transit serves some of Berlin’s best Southeast Asian cuisine. The food comes tapas-style, so order with abandon such delights as Almost Nude (a summer roll with shrimp, pork, fresh herbs and salad wrapped in thin rice paper), Bathing Beauty (homemade fresh steamed rice dough with chicken and morels), Undress Me (finely ground chicken and prawn wrapped in aromatic pandan leaves) and Yes Please (tender chicken breast in coconut milk with fresh mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, Laos root and cilantro).

Reservations are essential. Any attempt to get in during the evening without one is as close to futile as it gets.

Essential addresses

Address: Am Falkplatz 5, 10437 Berlin
How to get there: U-Bhf/S-Bhf Schonhauser Allee, Tram M1
Phone: +49 30 51 05 32 83

Address: The Circus Hotel, Rosenthalerstrasse 1, 10119 Berlin
How to get there: U8 Rosenthaler Platz
Phone: +49 30 20 00 39 34 60

Address: Oderberger Strasse 22,
10435 Berlin
How to get there: U-Bhf Eberswalder Strasse
Phone: +49 30 60 94 30 80

Address: Zionskirchstrasse 40, 10119 Berlin
How to get there: U8 Rosenthaler Platz, Tram M1 or 12 Zionskirchplatz
Phone: +49 30 65 70 67 56

Address: Ackerstrasse 23, 10115 Berlin
How to get there: S-Bhf Nordbahnhof, U-Bhf Rosenthaler Platz, Tram M8 or 12
Phone: +49 30 28 09 27 01

Address: Granseer Strasse 6, 10435 Berlin
How to get there: U-Bhf Bernauer Strasse, Tram M1 or 12
Phone: +49 30 35 12 39 00

Address: Rosenthaler Strasse 68, 10119 Berlin
How to get there: U-Bhf Rosenthaler Platz
Phone: +49 30 24 78 16 45

Perennial favorites

Address: The Mandala Hotel, Potsdamer Strasse 3, 10785 Berlin
How to get there: U-Bhf / S-Bhf Potsdamer Platz
Phone: +49 30 59 00 51 234

Address: Hotel Palace, Budapester Strasse 45, 10787 Berlin
How to get there: U-Bhf Wittenbergplatz
Phone: +49 30 25 02 10 20

Address: The Regent Hotel, Charlottenstrasse 49, 10117 Berlin
How to get there: U-Bhf Franzosische Strasse
Phone: +49 30 20 33 63 63

Address: Paul-Linke-Ufer 44a, 10999 Berlin
How to get there: U-Bhf Kottbusser Tor, U-Bhf Schonlienstrasse
Phone: +49 30 61 28 99 92

Address: Unter den Linden 77, am Pariser Platz, 10117 Berlin
How to get there: S-Bhf / U-Bhf Brandenburger Tor
Phone: +49 30 22 610

Address: Hotel InterContinental, Budapester Strasse 2, 10787 Berlin
How to get there: U-Bhf Wittenbergplatz
Phone: +49 30 26 02 0

Address: Unter den Linden 77, am Pariser Platz, 10117 Berlin
How to get there: S-Bhf / U-Bhf Brandenburger Tor
Phone: +49 30 22 61 19 59

Address: Unter den Linden 78, entrance in Wilhelmstrasse, 10117 Berlin
How to get there: S-Bhf / U-Bhf Brandenburger Tor
Phone: +49 30 22 65 26 11

Address: Brandenburger Hof Hotel, Eislebener Strasse 14, 10789 Berlin
How to get there: U-Bhf Augsburger Strasse
Phone: +49 30 21 40 56 51

Address: Edison Hofe, Schlegel Strasse 26, 10115 Berlin
How to get there: U-Bhf Naturkundemuseum, S-Bhf Nordbahnhof
Phone: +49 30 30 88 12 14

Address: Rudi-Dutschke-Strasse 26, 10969 Berlin
How to get there: U-Bhf Kochstrasse
Phone: +49 30 25 93 79 30

Address: Jagerstrasse 54, 10117 Berlin
How to get there: U-Bhf Franzosische Strasse, U-Bhf Hausvogteiplatz
Phone: +49 30 20 29 73 0

Address: Chausseestrasse 8, 10115 Berlin
How to get there: U-Bhf Oranienburger Tor, U-Bhf Naturkundemuseum
Phone: +49 30 24 62 87 60

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