Noto is on Torstrasse, which is also home to Bandol Sur Mer (touted as Brangelina’s favourite restaurant in Berlin by the Lonely Planet, 2009 edition) and Tartane. Interesting things are happening on Torstrasse. A street to watch, I would say.
There is a neat, 4 letter (lowercase) neon sign hanging in the window – noto – (north of torstrasse), flanked on either side by thick blue curtains and in the right hand corner, almost like an afterthought – a short menu.
Inside, the restaurant is narrow, like the dining compartment on a train. Instead of working against the restaurant, it works for it, Ronald (the owner) strides up and down the narrow walk way scanning the tables and chatting effortlessly with the people sitting at them.
Behind the bar is the kitchen, where there is one chef at work. Who also keeps tabs on the tables. During the dessert (a mandarin sorbet with mint served in a martini glass) I felt his eyes on me, he raised his eyebrows to express concern that we were letting our sorbet melt rather than eat it. “Is it OK?” he seemed to be asking me silently?
We had a lovely meal there but more importantly, we had a lovely evening. We shared a halved avocado with tiny brown shrimp from the north sea, mild red chili and coriander. Both of us loved the sour cream spread we were given on the side (which tasted like it had some lime zest in it).
For main, we tried the 1/2 kg of veal spare ribs with barbecue sauce and a side salad. Good enough to be a reason to go back. We also ordered a Berlin speciality of 3 hard-boiled eggs with mustard sauce and spinach. Which despite looking strange in the extreme, was delicious. Half way through the dish, Ronald, noticing we had finished all the mustard sauce, came over with the entire pot and ladled some more on the plate.
I am surprised how smooth the evening was considering it was such a bare bones operation. One chef and one waiter? That’s a dinner party. To me, it felt intimate, like a secret we had been let in on. Although I do confess, that I prefer small restaurants and staff attitude will sway my experience significantly.
If you don’t like smells and clangs of the kitchen, then ask to be seated at the front, personally, I like to be where the action is.
I’ve had a lot of feedback lately that service has not been up to scratch. Which is disappointing, because the service impressed me almost more than the food. Still, consider yourself warned. (July 2011)
T. 030 2009 5387