*Update (March 2012) 3 Minutes sur Mer now have a lunch menu.
Exclamation point indeed.
Ask and certain people will tell you. Berlin isn’t ready for pricey restaurants. That is why so many places open up only to close. The market is just not here yet. Give ’em cheap and give ’em lots.
I made a lunch date at 1:30 with a girlfriend. “Should I call ahead to make a reservation.” she asked. ‘Who needs a reservation for lunch in Berlin? On Torstrasse? On a Wednesday? Even for an offshoot of Bandol Sur Mer, bound to be popular.’ That was my thinking at least. Flawed thinking I soon came to realize, as I huffed and puffed my way up Torstrasse in my two pairs of trousers, 4 shirts, 1 fleece and 1 coat and a cashmere pashmina wrapped around my waist to combat the devastation this arctic weather is wreaking on my lower back (Born in Kuwait people – which by the way – is where you will find me if this cold doesn’t let up.).
The place was throbbing with custom. Screen away the surrounding buildings and 3 Minutes could have been off the Seven Dials in London or in the Latin Quarter in Paris. Blockbuster cities with a fair number of wealthy inhabitants. I snagged the only table just in time.
I love the inside. A corner location means two walls of windows ensuring a bright crisp dining room. There is a similar aesthetic to Bandol but with more space to fill, they’ve graduated from blackboard walls to a more sophisticated interior. A bar area whose ceiling is decorated with caramel coloured wooden beams and square lighting fixtures so retro, it could have all come from some Swiss skiing chalet that was buried under an avalanche of snow 50 years ago. Another wall is dressed with 4 prints that I covet instantly. The kitchen is open, a mark of confidence.
The lunch menu (11:30 to 18:00) needs to be seen to be believed because in an act of commendable restraint and self-knowledge, it only lists 5 dishes. Things like coq au vin, white fish with beetroot and potato, veal with potatoes and cauliflower, jerusalem artichoke soup. You have the option of ordering a small or large portion, allowing you to tailor your starter and main.
As I trust their sourcing, I order the veal and I realize I haven’t eaten meat for over a month (€18). It comes with a small side of brattkartoffeln and a scattering of steamed cauliflower florets. The veal has lots of flavour but the sides need a little more attention, more of a spin I feel, to justify the price tag – maybe dauphinoise potatoes or a side of cauliflower and cheese (I know, very British but exceedingly good). My friend’s fish dish (€13) needs no tweaking at all – Bandol makes a mean pan-fried fish, crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside, and 3 Minutes has no trouble keeping up the bar.
At some point we both realize that the bread basket has passed us by. We wonder if we are just being greedy by asking for it when we have finished our large-sized dishes and decide we don’t care. Good thing too, an olive flute as it should be. Magically chewy and tangy, the waiter tells us it comes from a French Bakery in Schöneberg (Moulin Rouge 1855).
Dessert is crème brûlée or an uninspiring looking cake, I rarely order the perennial crème brûlée or panna cotta – the city seems to be stuck on these two when there is so much more out there, crème caramel, lemon tart, any tart really.
It’s just lunch and I’ve only been the one time, I found the food to be pared down in comparison to Bandol (I am not sure how this changes for dinner and I will do my best to write-up a separate post for that), but their sourcing continues to be top-notch and they young chefs in the kitchen know how to do them justice.
So yes – excited, happy even at this new Torstrasse addition.
3 Minutes Sur Mer!
Torstr. 166 (Bergstr.)
T. 030 6730 2052,
Mon-Fri 11.30 to midnight, Sat and Sun 10 to midnight
(Just like Bandol, 3 Minutes Sur Mer have no website so I will direct you to a write-up by Tip magazine Berlin here)