Margaux, *, The Vegetable Menu, Mitte

I’m going to make this one short because as a rule, I don’t dwell on disappointments and that is what Margaux was.

You have 2 choices at Margaux, the vegetarian menu (€125 although on their website it is advertised as €110) for which it is known and a fish and meat menu (€175 again the website says €140).  Our table had decided on the vegetarian menu before we had even set foot in the restaurant.  You see, Margaux has its own vegetable garden in the Potsdam area where it grows 200 heirloom varieties of vegetables.  Things like Mexican cucumber, a vegetable the size and shape of a kumquat but which looks like it could be a mini dinosaur egg. Good right? Exciting even! (For someone like me)

The aspirations didn’t translate onto the plate.  At all.  There were entire dishes which were bewildering to my friends and I.  One in particular of blanched vegetable sticks lined up on a plate, the way you would do for a child, with packet of store-bought carrot sticks.  And look at the carrot stick, it’s not even uniformly cut! You know when we learned that one at Leiths? Day 1, the same day we made chunky chickpea dip.   Read more of this post

Rutz, Wine & Fine Food, Mitte

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.

Laid back.


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.   Read more of this post

Reinstoff, 2* Michelin Food, Mitte

Update 2011 - Reinstoff received a second Michelin star this year, which is great news for them! Yay!  

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.

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