No doughnuts on display here, maybe a beignet if you’re lucky. This is one of Berlin’s finest restaurants, headed by Christian Lohse at the posh Regent hotel and with a lofty two Michelin stars. It also has an eye-wateringly expensive dinner menu, I’ve started to realise how great value fine dining in London can be compared to Europe in general. However I wanted to try it and the lunch menu was better at €47 for 3 courses. Still not bargainous but more palatable for a flying visit to Berlin. The welcome was excellent, very refined and formal but with friendliness from the staff. The dining room was grand and generously spaced, lots of soft furnishings and elegant art. It had a touch of hotel dining room about it, but only in the grandest sense (maybe too much beige for my liking). And the wife was concerned about the creases in the thick linen tablecloth, they looked neat to me though.
We were offered a pre-dinner drink, without a price list which always annoys me slightly. Anyway, we opted for a rose champagne and a Manzanilla sherry. Both very nice although quite short measures (100ml and 50ml) for the price (€22 and €16!). An amuse of German anise crackers was brought over, they were light and a good start. My starter was a carpaccio of halibut with fennel and burrata. Fish and cheese are extremely hard to pull off together, they are not natural bedfellows (just ask an Italian). But … the creaminess of the burrata did work, adding some richness to the succulent wafer thin slices of fish. Impressive. The wife opted for pepper and ginger veloute with a prawn croquette. Tons of depth of flavour from the crisp prawn ball and the rich thick veloute poured at the table. Both were beautifully presented, and a light start which was well measured for lunch.
Special mention to the bread that was brought with the starter and remained throughout the meal, an excellent selection of heavier German nutty rye breads and sourdoughs with creamy soft salted butter.
The mains selection in the set menu was quite light on meat options (just pork in fact) and interestingly had more fish. I fancied some meat after my delicate fish main, so pork it was. The wife opted for skate wing. My pork came Szgedin style, a new term to me that the waitress explained was a Hungarian stew. Given it was a stew, it was the most elegantly presented I’ve seen. The soft unctuous pork cheek was draped with a soft whole pepper and topped with a light fresh sauerkraut. Flavoured with smoky paprika, it was a good stew. But maybe a bit of a safe dish, certainly a crowd pleaser but there’s only so much you could do with it. The wife’s skate wing was perfectly cooked and topped with a herby parsley root and butter with capers. Again, a solid dish and nothing to fault, buy maybe a bit safe.
Next, a nice surprise of a pre-dessert, a tropical dragonfruit sauce and ice-cream. The dragonfruit looked a tad like kiwi fruit (which the wife is allergic to), so after some tropical fruit language issues, they very kindly swapped it for a safer variety (which meant two fruity versions for me).
Onto desserts proper, both flawlessly presented and both with sauces poured ceremoniously at the table. The wife opted for Namelaka creme (a creamy white chocolate mousse), Campari jelly and a fennel pine juice. Super smooth sweet white chocolate paired with a bitter-sweet soft jelly and the fresh anise / piney notes of the juice, very clever. My only thought was texturally it was too soft. Next was mine, pineapple, dark chocolate, hop syrup and toast. This was a complete triumph, I was concerned about bitter chocolate and pineapple but paired with the bitter-sweet hop syrup and crunch of the toast, it was a revelation. Very smart, very complex and impossible to fault.
It was a very enjoyable meal from start to finish, the whole experience full of grandeur and luxury. The cooking was precise and elevated classic techniques and dishes with modern touches. My only slight niggle being that the mains felt quite safe compared to the more innovative starters and desserts. And price-wise, it isn’t cheap, two set lunches, a bottle of wine and coffee was nudging £200. But even bearing those in mind, an excellent meal and throughly recommended for a sumptuous meal in an opulent dining room.