Rutz’s design is pure Barcelona. Maybe it’s the wooden slats that dress the outside of the building (makes me think of Cacao Sampaka) or the logo: a blood-red uneven circle, meant to emulate a wine ring. Or that upstairs there is a bustling 1 starred Michelin restaurant, with young friendly staff, in simple black shirts and trousers.Everyone is taken past the pass to their tables, which are bare, with only a heavy linen napkin on one side and a plain white candle, not in a glass but placed directly onto the table.
We are given a table by the window. Looking through the slats, past one of the grapevines that has been planted on the 1st floor balcony, Chausseestrasse looks positively charming.Which if you’ve ever walked down it, you know: it most definitely is not!
Like at Reinstoff (another Michelin starred restaurant which is just around the corner) we are given an amuse to start. A bowl of sprouting cress, jutting out of it are two wooden sticks with a cube of salmon topped of with a round orange ball and two miniscule testubes filled with a green liquid: a cold essence of curry. One of the waitresses comes over with the menu and begins to explain the concept. There’s a lot of talk about experiences and journeys and even my eyes start to glaze over as Hrabi reaches for his blackberry. We are told that we have to order the same dishes because there is ‘no way’ the kitchen can make us separate ones. That comment comes across as overly polemic until I realize that each dish is ‘interpreted’=served two ways. The menu concept proves a bit of a headache for the staff and the guests, who seem to all be foreign with a common language of English. They all have to sit through a 10 minute monologue. At some point the sommelier plops down on the chair next to the Japanese couple behind us when the concept proves to be too much for them.Really it’s simple. There is a theme, either an ingredient: olives or a feeling: ’15 minutes at the atlantic coast’. You pick one and then get two dishes using that idea or ingredient. You can go for a 3 themed menu which equates to 6 dishes and €105 or choose all 6 themes (the entire menu in fact) and get 12 dishes €180.We took the smallest one. By the 4th main I opened the button on my trousers. By the 2nd dessert, I pulled the zipper way down and carefully held my bag in front of me as a decoy as I walked out of the restaurant. It was a lot of food.
Weird thing about the food; I liked it, individually but I didn’t feel like all the combinations Müller made were ideal. Take the salmon with olives and cherries for example. The salmon with its silvery crispy skin was textural deliciousness. But the coupling of the olives and the cherries was muddy and muddled in my mouth, a little like wearing two shades of red, just not quite right. The addition of the cocoa nibs, taken with the olives there was a hint of success but again the cherries just made that house of cards tumble-down. The foie gras dish was made up of 11 separate elements, which in terms of texture is exciting but taste: hmmm well. It would have been better if he nailed say 3 combinations instead of putting his entire armory of techniques on one plate (although technically this guy is as solid as they get). Just to give you an example, foie gras ice cream is the signature dish of Claude Bosi (Hibiscus, London), a smooth, perfectly creamy savoury cold delight, floating in a warm emulsion with a few crunchy bits. I remember thinking it was pretty outstanding the first time I had it, but in Müller’s combination, it is relegated to the corner. I guess this is what it must be like to be in a small room with 11 super models (guys if you’re a girl and girls if you’re a guy or whatever combination floats your boat), you just can’t focus on any one thing, it’s too overwhelming.
It reminds me of what Trudi says in L.A. Story: “One of the first things I always teach my clients is about the point system. You should never have more than seven things on. You know, like your earrings count for two points, those daisies count for three points. But the best thing to do is, right before you go out, look in the mirror and turn around real fast, and the first thing that catches your eye, get rid of it. I mean, I had this thing in my hair before I left, remember? And I pulled it right out, ’cause as soon as I turned, gone! Marilyn Monroe did that.”
He made some things work and sing in harmony like the Monteverdi choir doing Vivaldi. Like a small amuse he gave us at the beginning, diced cucumber, fresh pea mouse, jelly of some sort, like if a salad and a gazpacho got together and produced some perfect offspring. Or for the first interpretation of the ‘Black Locust’ (Robinienblüte) stewed plums in a glass. I wish I could remember everything that was in there. Two kinds of plums, a foam, glitter (literally glitter, not embellishing although the kitchen certainly did), fresh lemon balm leaves. That still didn’t stop the second dessert from knocking our socks off! White peach, speckled with vanilla seeds, raspberry (gilded, of course), lemon balm, tiny meringues the size of my two-year old’s little toe. Magical to behold and eat (didn’t come out well enough in the photograph).
On and on I go and I didn’t even mention the wine list. Which this place is known for. Close to 1’000 bottles and you know what? I didn’t even glance at it, just asked the supremely talented sommelier (Billy Wagner) to match a wine for the starter and one for dessert. I wish I could take that guy home with me or at a push, have him on speed dial. There is so much I don’t know about wine, that I mostly don’t even bother to drink it. But when someone in the know does the introductions for me, I realize what I’m missing.
I tell you what, I want to follow this chef, I want to see how he matures and mellows. He’s got some serious talent but I have a feeling he will only get better with time and that like Matisse, he will simplify and (in my opinion, like Matisse did) improve.
It goes without saying that I want to get back and try the rustic fare at the winebar on the ground floor as soon as possible!
T. 030 24628760
Tuesday to Saturday
Weinbar from 16:00
Restaurant from 18:30