I understand now why I thought that Uma at the Adlon, Kempinski was a bit average (see what I thought of it here). Because when Tim Raue left to open his own place, he took all the kitchen staff bar two. And most of the front of house. And the guest data base (making an educated guess here). And most importantly, himself.
The new place, behind checkpoint Charlie and across the street from trendy Sale e Tabacchi is technically Kreuzberg but feels like Mitte. The interior looked cold and sober in the images I saw on the internet, like a Swedish airport business lounge from the 50’s. In reality, the felt fabric on the swivel chairs and banquette, the warm hued American walnut tables and the soft lighting all make it comfortable, elegant and contemporary.
It’s a large restaurant, I would guess 200 sqm, but it doesn’t feel cavernous. The furniture language changes ever so slightly as you move around, breaking up the linear monotony. It was a far cry from the very “Asian” feel of Uma which feels almost Disneyfied. As you go down the stairs to the bar and toilettes, there is a wall crammed full of chinese type porcelain and the women’s toilet has a bright red laquer table and
Yue Minjun paintings (pricey paintings these, his piece Execution became the most expensive work ever by a Chinese contemporary artist, when sold in 2007 for £2.9 million).*
The kitchen is huge, with glass fronted fridges, visible through a large glass window from the Krug table. The restaurant recommends it for parties of 4 or more and there is no extra fee levied for sitting there.
I liked the choice of waiting staff (apparently the domain of Raue’s wife). They are all real people, no waifish vacuous aspiring actresses, models or singers here, thank god! Great attention to detail, young, attentive but not intrusive. Our dinner companions were delayed flying in from Vienna, so we killed an hour chatting with our waiter and filling up on Berlin restaurant gossip and the pickled vegetables, spiced nuts, and sesame dressed field lettuce salad. I was struck by how much they adore their head chef, I had the impression that they would walk into a burning building if Raue asked them to.
Which brings us to the food. It is very different from Uma. The Japanese element has gone entirely, there is no longer a sushi menu or even shashimi type dishes on the main menu. It’s contemporary chinese, Raue describes it himself here.
It’s Michelin style, two star level almost three. The food is plated with military precision, the main ingredient surrounded by a gaggle of Lilliputian dabs, quenelles, cubes and vegetables. Foams were conspicuously absent. As were shards of things; sugar, chicken skin whatever. Jus were enriched with chicken and duck feet, something Raue himself told us one of the two times he came to our table to serve and explain the dishes. I liked that he was able to come out briefly, it was something he appeared to do for all the people who had ordered the Menus.
The boys ordered the Menu Unique and the girls ordered the Seasonal Menu (which we were told was lighter). The menus built up gradually in portion size, flavour complexity and substance. We started off with two sips of tonic and ended up with a meat symphony; duck followed by deer for the ladies and pork cheek followed by bisson for the men. I found that Raue excelled with the fish, meat and poultry dishes, drawing out and amplifying outstanding flavour.
The oddest dish of the evening was a sea slug with black truffle, charcoal, rice paper, and horseradish stuffed grapes. It was one of my husband’s dishes but he silently mimed that he was going to throw up while the waiter described it. So that the creature didn’t die in vain, I offered to eat it. One word for you on that subject…..why? There are so many good things to eat out there, why bother these poor slugs? It was chewy, musky and well you know… A SLUG! Having said that, they gave us the shells so maybe it was not a slug just a sea snail? Not sure that makes it taste better.
The chocolate desserts were the best. We not only ate the ones that came with our menu but ordered two more, I have mentioned my husband’s sweet tooth before right? The green tea macaroon was tough and the clumsiest element of the whole menu.
I won’t give you a blow-by-blow of every single dish, but I will include the pictures of all of them with captions as best as I can remember (the PDF menus on the Tim Raue website have not been updated in some time). Apologies for the grainy, yellow pictures but I wanted you to have an idea of what the dishes looked like.
*These are clearly labeled copies not originals as I had first thought.
Restuarant Tim Raue
T 030 2 59 3 79 30
tuesday – saturday 12 am – 2 pm, 7 pm – 10 pm
Other blogs articles about Restaurant Tim Raue in English