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Frank Bruni does Berlin


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#1 Rail Paul

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 12:15 AM

NYTimes columnist Frank Bruni pays a visit to several well regarded Berlin restaurants.

Restaurant Tim Raue:

One of the dim sum selections came looking like traditional steamed dumplings. But inside each was stewed goose: a German touch, and a seasonal one at that. And the plate the dumplings were on was dabbed with circles of a red cabbage cream, certainly not a Chinese condiment.

In place of pancakes, the Peking duck came with a thick waffle, another departure from the Chinese norm. It served as a pedestal for slices of duck breast, and that arrangement was but one part of a dish that also included a swish of duck liver mousse and an intense duck broth with bits of various duck organ meat. There was French technique and spirit at work here, too.

In fact Mr. Raue’s cooking and sensibility reminded me of the renowned work of a Frenchman in America: Jean-Georges Vongerichten. There was the same romance with Asia. The same orchestration of carefully chosen spices and peppers, from Japan and Thailand as well as China, to achieve a melody of hot, sweet and tart notes. The same attention to aromatics. The same substitution of heavy sauces with nimbler broths, like the intensely citrusy one that coddled a fillet of loup de mer.


There were some issues, as the duck was tough, etc, but this is an excellent restaurant.

Restaurant Tim Raue, Rudi-Dutschke-Strasse 26; (49-30) 25-93-7930; tim-raue.com. Four-course lunch for two with wine and tip, about 170 euros, about $210 at $1.24 to the euro.

Mr Bruni also had a great meal at Restaurant Horvath.

And they’re firmly grounded in the local, seasonal spirit of the day. Before my meal, a pumpkin patch somewhere in or near Berlin had been freshly depleted, its fruits — or, rather, gourds — relocated to Horvath, where the terrific bread was accompanied by a butter infused with pumpkin seed oil, which tasted somewhat of tahini, only richer, darker. For dessert, there was pumpkin brittle ice cream. It had a nutty panache.

The dinner menu at Horvath is divided into two parts, on two pages. One is labeled traditional, and meant to hew more closely to German traditions. The other is labeled innovative. I ordered from the former while Tom, my partner, focused on the latter. Our meals were less different than we expected, and each yielded as many standouts as the other.

From the traditional menu there was suckling pig, served as pink slices of loin and gooey balls of cheek. These were accompanied by an enormous potato dumpling stuffed with minced blood sausage. Germans know how to go for gastronomic broke. And I’m happy to follow them every meaty, fatty step of the way.

From the innovative menu there was a fillet of Arctic char with an amalgam of cabbage and tomato and red pepper purées that tasted like sauerkraut in ketchup. That’s a comfort-food compliment.


Horvath, Paul-Lincke-Ufer 44a; (49-30) 61-28-9992; restaurant-horvath.de. Dinner for two with wine and tip, 130 to 180 euros.

Noto is a restaurant described by Mr Bruni as reminding him of Florent. Scruffy, interesting music selection, always an interesting choice on the menu or specials board, etc.

Noto’s is the food I described as German-Italian, though German-Mediterranean would be more accurate, and even that doesn’t quite do. Into what category, for example, would one put veal spareribs slathered with something halfway between a barbecue sauce and a mole? I don’t know and I don’t care, not as long as the sauce is this lively with mustard seed and the meat this succulent.

You might find something like Noto’s very fine risotto — made with taleggio cheese, radicchio and walnuts — in Italy, but not like its equally good ravioli, filled with venison, dressed with a rosemary butter and sprinkled with brussels sprout leaves


Noto, Torstrasse 173; (49-30) 20-09-5387; noto-berlin.com. Dinner for two with wine and tip, 90 to 125 euros.

He liked Hartmanns, which he described as the “new German cuisine,” a lighter, more adventurous presentation.

The chef, Stefan Hartmann, has a precise touch, reflected in a beautifully shaped two-layered domino of smoked eel mousse and smoked eel gelée in one appetizer. He has restraint, too, giving meat and fish a subtle saucing or, instead, a purée of some kind, below or to the side. For pan-seared plaice, a European flatfish with delicate white flesh, the accent was a mustard foam, its lightness a gesture of respect for the fish, whose tenderness and delicacy weren’t eclipsed.

On the concise menu, which changes nightly, there was also Scottish salmon with quinoa, avocado and sardine; lobster with a baked quail egg and chives; goose liver terrine with brioche and caramelized apples; veal breast with crosnes and a white bean purée; veal sweetbreads with artichoke.

The showcased dessert was a chestnut tart with kumquats and a parfait flavored with ... pumpkin seed! That Berlin-area pumpkin patch was the gift that kept on giving

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Hartmanns, Fichtestrasse 31; (49-30) 61-20-1003; hartmanns-restaurant.de. Dinner for two with wine and tip, 160 to 240 euros.

Four meals

“Jazz musicians just get better and better as the years go by. I think chefs are the same way. You know who you are.”

 

...Jonathan Waxman


#2 aek

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 05:43 PM

I would like to purchase euros at 1/$1.24.

#3 Rail Paul

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 10:03 PM

I would like to purchase euros at 1/$1.24.


Yes.

The NYT used the same exchange rate for conversions in the Sciolino article about the bistro in the 15th.

“Jazz musicians just get better and better as the years go by. I think chefs are the same way. You know who you are.”

 

...Jonathan Waxman