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. Read more of this post