I don’t know how the remaining 333 days of 2011 are going to compete with last Saturday?
First I had a great meeting with some kindred spirits about an exciting project.
Then I finally crossed off “get a bed from ikea for the guest room” from the list (where it had been languishing for 6 months).
And finally, I had a surprisingly good meal at Parc Fermé.
My husband took me there with this as an opening line “The Greek guy from Trofeo wants to open up a Michelin star restaurant.”
“Um, you know that stars are awarded, right?” I scoffed in response.
“Yes… But apparently he used to have Tim Raue as a chef before he became ‘Tim Raue’. And he and Roland Mary started Brochardt. Anyway, let’s just try it.”
If only every restaurant outing could be preluded by such low expectations.
Parc Fermé is housed in the unique Meilenwerk, a modern warehouse of gorgeous and expensive automobiles housed in glass boxes. Hence the name, which refers to a secure area at the Grand Prix where the race cars are driven, post race. Parc Fermé has only two menus: a regular 6 course one for €86 and a vegetarian menu which is 5 courses for €69. My husband ordered one of each.
They started us off with some home-made bread (nothing notable). Followed by an amuse bouche of salmon with apple jelly and slow cooked octopus with calf’s head. Hmmm…my curiousity began to pique.
With my starter (weirdly named ‘South America meets Turkey’) things began to get really interesting. First off, it was one sexy bit of plating. Flavour-wise, it was citrusy from the mandarin, rich from the mousse and refreshing from the soup with texture provided by bouncy quinoa. Fabulous dish.
The next two dishes were similarly show stopping: beech smoked poussin, tonka bean chips and beetroot rice paper on the regular menu and soft-boiled egg with brioche croutons and chervil puree on the vegetarian menu (picture is the opening photo at the top of the post). Both were great and technically impressive (plus, I’m a sucker for textures and these guys gave me hit after hit).
The Red Devil was up next: a carabinero shrimp with Jerusalem Artichoke puree and confit of pumpkin was succulent and rich.
The following two courses (2 each for the regular menu and the vegetarian menu) were good but not on a par with what we had eaten so far. That was a good thing because it lowered our expectations a bit so that when we got our desserts – we were all the more impressed.
I am not exaggerating, hands down, best desserts I have had in Berlin to date (and I’ve eaten at Uma, Tim Raue and the Adlon Kempinski). Just look at it! It’s perfect. A jewel. And the taste – that soup thing in the right hand corner was divine and texture, texture, texture, these boys know how to use it.
The other dessert was Ivoire Ivoire: Gateau and panna cotta of Valrohna chocolate with dill, salty almond and iced guava. But we couldn’t get at any of the chocolate bits because our two-year old ‘called it’ after sitting through 6 courses for two and a half hours (no Kinder Bueno for this kid).
The chefs came out to greet us when they brought out the chocolates: Dennis Ucak and Björn Swanson (27 & 26 respectively), all shy smiles at the compliments we were showering on them. They have both trained at Michelin starred restaurants (Fischers Fritz and Facil) and wanted to go off and do their own thing. But money being a hard thing to come by, they didnt really have an outlet – until they found Aris Papageorgiou (the afore mentioned “greek guy”)who gave them a restaurant space as a platform.
Genius idea actually, kudos to him. There is so much raw young talent out there (the operative word being young) and no one is giving them a chance (more so in Europe than in the US) so if you have a space that you are not putting to good use (in this case the small 8 tabled space adjacent to Trofeo) why not?
The evening was not seemless, nor was it without its faults. This is a restaurant that only opened a month ago and the whole thing is still a bit of an experiment, certain things jarred (the choice of music for example or the cheap candles on the table) but the main thing, the food, was ( for the most part), fantastic. Especially those desserts. And the prices are extremely good €69 and €86.
I hope that Parc Fermé begins to receive some serious custom so that it can go from a rickety experiment to a smooth operating machine, I would like to see how the two young chefs evolve then. Because for a chef, to have someone out there in the dinning room, loving their food – just makes them strive to make you love them even more….
Wiebestrasse 36, in the “Meilenwerk”,