I agonized over where to take my friend Stephen when he came to visit from London. He has worked in so many Michelin starred kitchens (and recently, won his own) that if I was going to to take him somewhere fancy, it had to be good. I settled on Reinstoff because it seemed inordinately difficult to get a table there, which is very ‘London’ in a city where most restaurants are closed for lunch because there isn’t enough custom. Flicking through their slick website cinched my decision.
It’s hard to find Reinstoff, I wandered up and down the quiet residential street in Mitte twice wondering how I could have possibly missed such a striking restaurant? Then, I remembered the word Höfe in the address and turned into one of the more modern buildings, into a cobblestone courtyard, and there it was, glowing, with the distinct metal orbs just visible through the gauzy curtains.
The space is genius, really, congratulations to that interior designer. A wall of glass on one side, the remaining three walls each clad in a kind of rectangular cove into which tables of two (and a few four) are set, larger tables in the center, with glistening metal balls hanging from the ceiling at varying heights. Industrial metal ventilation traverse the partly red brick ceiling bringing a rough contrast to precious design on the ground.
The lighting architect deserves the second award, there are spots of bright light which fade abruptly into inky darkness, the combination of light and dark, glistening and matt, all work together to make a very comfortable room and although beautiful and modern, not intimidating at all.
The 4 staff serving us that evening were efficient and amiable. When our star server over-heard us trying to figure out what the Birch Water listed on the menu could possibly be, he came over to explain it and then rushed off to fetch a bottle so we could try it neat. He tirelessly answered all my question (and there were a lot) and he introduced us to some interesting Riesling, challenged by my plebeian statement of “I don’t like Riesling, it’s too sour.” But caution, following his pied piper suggestions on wine, we ordered 5 glasses and spent €46.80, quite a bit when you consider that the 5 course menu is €78. I don’t begrudge him or them for that, once you see the interior, plating, ingredients and service, you understand that they have to get those margins from somewhere, and that somewhere is in the beverages.Unexpectedly, they brought out some fidley amuse bouche before giving us the menu “so that we might better understand they style of the kitchen”. I am an amuse bouche fiend, I would be happy to eat an entire meal of these little guys. They were all fantastically textured and some, like the foie gras in chickweed ice (the green ones in the back) also played with temperatures.
When we were given the menu, we saw that there were two options: one called “quite near” and another named “far away”, the latter being the more avant-garde option. Wanting to try as much as possible, we opted for one of each.
We had three favourite dishes. The confit of lobster, parsley root and cumin and cress, it was sublime. Northern brill, pointed cabbage, fennel pollen and sauerkraut juice. We loved the vivid colour of the cabbage, those bready looking things were some sort of barely sweet crumble and the sauerkraut juice was a genius addition, and a cheeky reinterpretation of such an habitual German staple. Goose liver, mushrooms and birch water. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the goose liver was fashioned into a miniature ski jump, lining either side were pickled mushrooms the size of my pinky nail and in the middle birch water droplets set with agar agar with a quenelle of birch tree sorbet.
There was also one stinker that evening, brined sturgeon from the Müritz, jellied herbal fond, baby turnips. A picture to look at but the sturgeon was chewy and unsalted, the green jelly and liquid tasted like what I imagine chlorophyll must taste like. Still, 9 out of 10 is mighty impressive.
For dessert, we opted for ‘Pure Caraïbe, cherry blossom, rice, tea and tonka bean’ and ‘Muesli ,grain and apple, iced Jerusalem artichoke’, somehow they made that last one work. Four more amuse bouche followed, this time of the sweet variety, less successful than those at the start.
I’m happy I took Stephen there, it was a great night out, as slick as we have come to expect from London but unquestionably Berlin.
T. 030 3088 1214
4 courses €64 • 5 courses €78 • 6 courses €93