We walked in early for our 6:30 reservation, the staff at Renger-Patzsch were still having their dinner. “Wow, that looks good.” exclaimed my husband eyeing up the manager’s dinner.
When the manager came over to take our order, my husband asked him what he had been eating “Oh, Puy lentils, with spaetzle and smoked sausage.” he replied.
“Good, I will have that to start and the duck for the main.” said my husband, snapping his menu shut.
Two things happened then that boded well for the evening ahead.
1. Instead of immediately replying No! That is not possible, the young manager smiled and said,
2. “I will have to ask the chef” – now a restaurant where the chef (in this case Hannes Behrmann) is prized and respected is a good sign.
My husband received his staff meal special request and was happy as a clam. The lentils were strewn with bruinoised root vegetables and the sausage was smoky and juicy. “I like this place.” he said in between bites.
Now, I may give my husband a hard time about his undeveloped taste buds and his child-like repertoire of acceptable foods but he knows quality when he see’s it / eat’s it. He’s also brutally honest, all the time. His other favourite restaurants in Berlin are Ma at the Kempinski, the Desbrosses at the Ritz and our little Spanish local, Volver so that he had decided this place was good was high praise indeed.
Halfway through his starter he called a friend and invited him over announcing proudly that his wife had finally found a good place to eat (remember last weekend I took him to EssenFassen).
Strictly speaking, I didn’t find the restaurant, Luisa of The Wednesday Chef found it and wrote about it on her new website Berlin on a Platter. And Timeout Berlin has it listed as the critic’s choice. I just found them and decided they both sounded like they knew what they were going on about – so I should give it a try.
Renger-Patzsch was packed on Saturday night. Walk-ins were getting politely turned away and every table sported a silver “reserved” sign. Our friend squashed onto the bench next to us and my husband ordered him the same main he had ordered, the delicious Brandenburg country duck (€17.50). I opted for the locally sourced pork with plum dumplings and a side salad which was equally good, the meat melting in my mouth.
And even though we were stuffed to the gills from the generous starters and mains we decided we had to try a couple of desserts. Christmasy stewed plums with parfait and a sublime walnut tart with a quenelle of chocolate mousse and scoop of ice cream. Despite our half hearted protests that we couldn’t possibly eat another morsel – we polished off those plates in no time!
The food style is classical French cooking spun to be relevant to German palates and aware of seasonality and provenance. The “jus” that accompanied the duck and the pork spoke of stocks simmering for hours and then reduced down until it had a mirror like sheen and left a delicious sticky residue on your lips every time you took a bite. Chef Behrmann lifted the autumnal palette of his dishes through the strategic placement of small vibrant root vegetables, which were cooked expertly to retain their bite and colour.
The restaurant interior compliments the food style. It is classic bistro updated with the black and white photographs of Renger-Patzsch (for which the place is named). The walls are clad in dark wood paneling with wooden benches for seats on one side and comfortable Swanson armchairs on the other. Light wood tables, with no tablecloth but with starched white linen napkins.
The service is discreet, polite, English speaking (if necessary) and attentive.
Price wise, the mains start at around 15€ and stop before they hit 20€. It may sound pricey for a neighborhood restaurant but there is no doubt in my mind that in terms of execution, ingredients and dish conception – those prices are worth it. You might want to save it for a special occasion but I would rather skip a meal somewhere else a few times just so I could go to this place more.
030 784 2059