A delicious menu of what’s new in Berlin’s culinary scene – plus a few classics that have stood the test of time

Berlin, October 2016 Over the past few years, Berlin has increasingly become a tasty hot spot where trends are not only followed but forged. The German capital is where creative kitchen magicians meet culinary free spirits, all driven by their sense for experimentation, cosmopolitan outlook and passion for quality. The city wows both with the largest number of Michelin restaurants in Germany and a fabulous range of international taste adventures. An overview:

New Stars in Michelin Heaven

The 2016 edition of Guide Michelin has brought Berlin a bumper crop of stars. The German capital now has 17 food temples with 23 stars between them – more than any other city in the country. Of these, 11 boast one star and six two stars. Best of all, there are five exciting newcomers to the culinary Hall of Fame:

Dining at Nobelhart & Schmutzig, the dining lair of star sommelier Billy Wagner, is like taking part in some sort of performance art. ‘Brutally local’ is his philosophy, meaning all ingredients hail – without exception – from producers in and around Berlin and the nearby Baltic Sea. Hence, no pepper nor lemons. The intellectually ambitious food is fresh and seasonal or naturally preserved by using such traditional methods as pickling, brining and fermenting. There’s no menu but 10 pre-selected courses served, family-style, at tables and a U-shaped bar wrapped around the kitchen. nobelhartundschmutzig.com

Hans Richard is an artist and a chef who champions the timeless qualities of French haute cuisine. His eponymous restaurant Richard in Kreuzberg offers a new menu every few weeks, from which guests may order four to seven courses. Dishes are not only intensely flavored but also lusciously presented. Just as eye-catching is the décor of the century-old dining room whose modern art and glass bubble chandeliers harmonize nicely with the historic coffered ceiling and stained-glass windows. www.restaurant-richard.de

The name Bieberbau channels sculptor and stuccomaster Richard Bieber who had his studio in this delightful half-timbered cottage that he built back in 1894. German Expressionist icons such as Max Pechstein and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner lived and worked here and presumably caroused with fellow artists in the attached restaurant, which miraculously survived World War II. Now it provides the perfect rustic-sophisticated setting for Stephan Garkisch’s French-infused German cuisine that gets unexpected flavor dimensions from herbs and spices grown in his own garden. www.bieberbau-berlin.de

With its simple black tables, brown chairs and menu scrawled on a wallsized blackboard, Bandol Sur Mer has got to be one of the most casual Michelin-starred restaurants on the planet. Chef Andreas Saul has a relationship with food that is as intimate as the Mitte space itself. Only about 20 foodies per seating get to savor the five-course menu that is either fish- or meat-focused and backed by a mellow soundscape from jazz to hip hop. Bandol was one of the first dining shrines on Torstrasse’s restaurant row and it’s still one of the best. And yes, Brad and Angelina love it too. www.bandolsurmer.de

In Berlin’s gastro scene Markus Semmler has been a familiar name for over 15 years. Since 2011 he’s presided over his own restaurant called Semmler – Das Restaurant while also running a successful catering service. His ammo are product-focused and classically interpreted dishes that are mostly low-carb or even carb-free. So need to feel guilty even if ordering the full nine courses! The airy dining room is accented with personal touches, including a pimped-up kitchen cabinet that used to belong to Semmler’s grandma, a feisty painting of a charging bull painted by a friend, and a flurry of potted plants. www.kochkunst-ereignisse.de

Here’s the complete 2016 list of Berlin’s Michelin-starred restaurants:

  • Facil: www.facil.de/en/
  • Fischers Fritz: www.fischersfritzberlin.com
  • Horváth: www.restaurant-horvath.de
  • Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer: lorenzadlon-esszimmer.de/en/
  • Reinstoff: www.reinstoff.eu/english/
  • Tim Raue: tim-raue.com/en/
  • 5 – Cinco by Paco Pérez: www.5-cinco.com
  • Bandol sur Mer: www.bandolsurmer.de
  • Bieberbau: www.bieberbau-berlin.de
  • Frühsammers Restaurant: fruehsammers-restaurant.jimdo.com
  • Hugos: www.hugos-restaurant.de
  • Nobelhart & Schmutzig: www.nobelhartundschmutzig.com
  • Pauly Saal: paulysaal.com
  • Richard: www.restaurant-richard.de
  • Semmler: www.kochkunst-ereignisse.de
  • Skykitchen: www.skykitchen.berlin
  • Weinbar Rutz: www.weinbar-rutz.de

Another honor for the capital’s best chefs is the title of ‘Master Chef’ which is awarded annually. Since 2008, Berlin’s experts in haute cuisine gastronomy have been honored in six categories: Master Chef Berlin, Master Chef Brandenburg, Newcomer of the Year, Berlin Host, Hotspot Restaurant Berlin, and Gastronomic Innovator. More about the awards by Berlin Partner and the current laureates here: www.berlin-partner.de/en/capital-city-marketing/berlin-partner-events/berlin-master-chefs/

New ‘In’ Locations

Scoring a table ahead of time is a must at Berlin’s latest dining darlings that smoothly blend coolness with culinary artistry.

The name Eins Unter Null means ‘one below zero’ but the food Ivo Ebert dishes up is happening hot. The trained sommelier opened his first restaurant in late 2015 to show off his idiosyncratic next-gen cooking style. With respect and passion, he coaxes maximum aroma out of first-rate ingredients, which are preferably sourced locavore-style. The artfully presented dishes demand to be savored slowly and consciously. Lunch is served on the ground floor, but for the main meal diners descend ‘one below zero’, that is into the cellar with its classily-cozy looks. www.einsunternull.de

With Le Petit Royal, celebrity haunt Grill Royal in Mitte has got a little sister in Charlottenburg. Ensconced on a sunny corner in a grand 19th-century building, the art-filled space attracts everyone from trend seekers to food nerds with elevated French bistro cuisine with a focus on fish. Oenophiles will get misty-eyed at the thought of the walk-in wine cabinet with over 500 bottles to choose from. It fits nicely with the elegant mid-century Italian décor that finds expression in shiny oak, chairs upholstered in tactile Rubelli fabric from Venice and the ‘look-at-me’ peacock wall paper behind the bar. www.lepetitroyal.de

Not to be outdone, one of Berlin’s most famous chefs, double-Michelin-starred Tim Raue, has also opened a French-flavored outpost in a nearby spot. Its name – Brasserie Colette – was inspired by Raue’s childhood memory of a woman who served him divine crêpes on a French beach. Naturally, there’s a ‘Madame Colette Crêpe’ on the menu that otherwise teems with classic brasserie dishes amplified by Raue’s bottomless creativity and top-notch ingredients. It’s all served in a sleek yet cozy room dominated by a wall of vintage apothecary cabinets opposite the bar. A mosaic floor, antique mirrors and retro-brasserie chairs provide additional style accents. www.brasseriecolette.de

No need to be a Soho House member to dine at Cecconi’s – this dispenser of reliably executed Italian classics is open to all even though it’s set within the famous members-only social club emporium. Aside from pasta, pizza and risotto – some souped up with lobster and truffle – the menu also checks the superfoods box with its quinoa and chia salads while also featuring carnivore-pleasing grilled meats. The vibe is Berlin-chic thanks to the handsome clientele, sensuous crimson leather seating and tables overlooking the open kitchen. www.cecconisberlin.com

Good pastrami is still a rare currency in Berlin, so New York deli lovers got all excited about the opening of Louis Pretty in Kreuzberg. Oskar Melzer, who co-founded Mitte pastrami pioneer Mogg, has struck out on his own in this eye-candy space with tangerine walls and swimming pool-blue laminate tables – which apparently is a high-concept interpretation of the David Hockney Pop Art painting ‘A Bigger Splash.’ The meat is magnificent after undergoing a complex four-week prepping process that involves curing, smoking, cooking and marinating, which results in the very definition of tender and flavorful. www.facebook.com/louisprettyberlin

Ludwig Cramer-Klett opened his restaurant Panama with South American atmosphere in the rear courtyard of a former factory building on Potsdamer Straße this summer. What comes out of the kitchen reflects a new twist on Germany’s culinary diversity, featuring influences from countries around the world paired with many newly created aromas. For example, the golden oyster mushroom served with wilted lettuce gets scented with cinnamon blossom. The dishes are largely vegetarian with fish and meat taking a secondary role as taste highlights. The integrated bar is also setting new standards: regional ingredients combined with spices and liqueurs from distant countries. www.oh-panama.com

The new restaurant acht & dreissig is creating a storm on Oranienburger Straße: The small, carefully-chosen menu mainly features creative transformations of German classics. For example, currywurst with a fruity tomato sauce and chips and a Wiener Schnitzel served with cucumber salad, dill, and fried potatoes. The food is prepared in an open kitchen from largely regional ingredients. With its sleek grey walls and rustic oak tables, acht & dreissig is both modern and inviting. www.restaurant38berlin.de

Arne Anker’s last pit stop before Pauly Saal was in Antwerp as sous-chef in the culinary laboratory of Dutch triple-Michelin starred Sergio Herman. Pauly Saal itself got the Michelin nod back in 2013, giving Anker an appropriately grand stage to make his own mark. The 30-year-old chef has given the food a youthful and lighter touch while still following the seasonal-regional credo. Nothing has changed about the stunning venue: the edgy-art-decorated gym of a former Jewish girls’ school in a Bauhaus building. www.paulysaal.com

With Crackers, Berlin nightlife impresario Heinz ‘Cookie’ Gindullis transformed his former club Cookies into a cosmopolitan gastro-cathedral with an appropriately lofty ceiling. The kitchen is helmed by Stephan Hentschel who treats patrons to such tasties as slow-cooked rack of veal or sea bass ceviche. After dinner, DJs heat up the vibe. Hentschel also masterminds the menu at Gindullis’ other restaurant – the upscale-vegetarian Cookies Cream right above Crackers. crackersberlin.com, www.cookiescream.com

Dóttir, the Nordic restaurant project by the owners of celebrity hangouts Grill Royal and Pauly Saal, is presided over by Victoria Eliasdottir, the sister of artist Olafur Eliasson. The relaxed flair of the intentionally unrenovated Mitte space is a fine fit for the contemporary fish-centric repertoire of dishes enhanced by such unusual ingredients as mountain herbs, hops and seaweed. www.dottirberlin.com

A much-lauded addition to the dining scene in the western district of Schöneberg is Martha’s where Manuel Schmuck wears the top toque. The 26-year-old, who used to show off his talents in the two-Michelin-starred Reinstoff, has created a sophisticated yet affordable menu that pushes the boundaries of culinary globalism. Red mullet, for instance, gets happily paired with zucchini, pimientos de padrón, truffle potatoes and smoked mackerel. The bar area is often busy until the wee hours. www.marthas.berlin

His club-restaurant Spindler & Klatt, a co-venture with Jesko Klatt, has lured punters for over ten years, but now Frank Spindler is presiding over a domain entirely his own, Spindler Berlin, in a late 19th-century canalside commercial complex in Kreuzberg. In the kitchen Nicolas Gemin, formerly sous-chef Pauly Saal, whips up fine seasonal comfort food. The cozily-elegant interior was designed by the fashion designer Karolina Preis, and brims with handpicked eye-catchers. www.spindler-berlin.net

Neapolitan Pizza

Pizza is a dime a dozen in Berlin. But good pizza? Not so much. Enter a new breed of artisanal pizzerias that has reintroduced the craft of making a perfect Neapolitan crust, topping it with ingredients that never see the inside of a can and tickling it to perfection in a ferociously hot cupola furnace.

One of these places is Zola which has the added benefit of not being in an obvious location, giving everyone who finds it that smug insider feeling. Tucked into a backyard off Kreuzberg’s Paul-Lincke-Ufer restaurant row, its fiery heart is the wood-fed oven that blisters the dough just so. The toppings are few but choice, such as the creamy Fior di Latte or tangy San Marzano tomatoes. www.facebook.com/zolakreuzberg

Zola opened just a few weeks after its competitor, Standard – Serious Pizza, across town in Prenzlauer Berg. The name is definitely not the game, for the pizza pies here are anything but standard, especially when it comes to such quality toppings as tomatoes hailing from the heel of Vesuvius. Worth trying: the localized ‘Taste of Brandenburg’ pizza featuring potato slices, wild boar salsiccia and fresh rosemary. www.standard-berlin.de

Brandenburg also plays a major role at Monella in Neukölln, which gives the humble pie a serious workout by using only seasonal ingredients sourced from organic farmers based around Berlin. The elephant-grey walls, dim light and DJ console hit at the fact that this is also a bar with some mighty classy libations. www.monella.berlin

Europe’s Vegan Capital

A meal featuring meat is so last millennium, if the number of articles about the ethics of eating animal products is any indication. So no surprise that there’s been an explosion of vegan and vegetarian restaurants around the world and of course also in Berlin, which even grabbed the nod for vegan capital of Europe. It helped that Veganz, the world’s first vegan supermarket chain, opened here in 2011; it now has ten branches and is set to expand to the US. www.veganz.de

‘Make Hummus, Not Walls’ is the motto of Hummus & Friends, a vegan and kosher bistro next to the New Synagogue in Mitte. The eponymous chickpea dip, whipped up with beans from Galilee, is naturally the menu star, along with the Friends Salad, a healthy blend of herbs, nuts, vegetables and cranberries dressed in orange-vinaigrette. The setting is urban-rustic with an open kitchen and a cobblestone courtyard. www.hummus-and-friends.com

Another feel-good concept is taking shape at Kanaan in Prenzlauer Berg, a joint venture of Israeli biz whiz Oz Ben David and Palestinian chef Jalil Dabit. They’ve combined their considerable expertise and energy to bring a progressive blend of Middle Eastern fare to Berlin. Top menu picks are hummus, shakshuka and sabich. For now, weekday lunch is served from a rakishly ramshackle hut, while on weekends the chefs take up residence across the street at Kohlenquelle, a funky bar in a former coal cellar. Kanaan’s been such a hit that a second snack space opened in Kreuzberg in March 2016. www.facebook.com/KanaanRestaurantBerlin

A vegan mainstay in Prenzlauer Berg is Josita Hartanto’s restaurant Lucky Leek, which even snagged an entry in the Guide Michelin. Her considerable talent shines through nicely in such flavor compositions as apricot walnut kofta, pumpkin ravioli and lemongrass crème brûlée. www.lucky-leek.de

Daluma in Mitte is a Berlin pioneer of the detox superfoods trend. Amid purist décor, the café-shop-combo serves up power smoothies made from red beet, cucumber, spinach, lime, coconut water, spirulina and other detoxifying ingredients as well as wholesome breakfasts and mains. The latter combine a low-carb base of lentils, quinoa, pasta or rice with a choice of four different toppings, including a tangy almond-lime blend. www.daluma.de

New trend rawfood: At Rawtastic in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin’s first raw-vegan restaurant, food does not get heated to more than 42 degrees Celsius. Due to the gentle care, the ingredients keep all their nutritional value, and the handling even increases its flavor. This works well for such tantalizing bites as the zucchini lasagna with nut cheese, pesto and walnut Bolognese. The superfood smoothies like Gojilicious and Chagatastic (with blueberries and coconut) provide another power boost. www.rawtastic.de

Berlin Kitchen Classics

Although the German capital is in the catbird seat when it comes to new culinary trends, traditional Berlin cuisine – earthy, hearty, honest – is in no danger of disappearing. Eisbein with mashed peas, ‘Berlin-style’ veal liver, aspic with fried potatoes or meat patties with mustard – they all are classic dishes that have ruled over local stoves for centuries. Case in point: the hearth of Zur Letzten Instanz, Berlin’s oldest restaurant. In business since 1621, it has welcomed many famous guests, including Napoleon and Goethe. www.zurletzteninstanz.com

Also enjoying cult status is Wirtshaus Henne, at home in Kreuzberg since 1908. Unfortunately, John F Kennedy had to turn down the owners’ invite to try their famous roast chicken during his 1963 state visit. Alas, the White House did send a personal apology. Older still (since 1902) is the nearby Wirtshaus Max & Moritz whose delicious granny food goes perfectly with a glass of home-brewed pilsner called Kreuzberger Molle. www.henne-berlin.de, www.maxundmoritzberlin.de

In Charlottenburg, Diener Tattersall is another place that prizes tradition over novelty. After being taken over by German heavyweight champion Franz Diener in the 1950s, it became one of West Berlin’s preeminent artist pubs. Billy Wilder to Harry Belafonte, they all came for beer and Bulette (meat patty) and left behind signed black-and-white photographs that grace Diener’s walls to this day. www.diener-berlin.de

Snack Culture, Berlin-style

Berliners’ favorite fast food is the beloved Currywurst (curried sausage) which was, after all, invented in the city. It was Herta Heuwer who’s credited with coming up, in 1949, with the idea of slivering a sausage, drenching it in tomato sauce and adding a fine sprinkling of curry powder. Her original snack parlor at Kantstrasse 101 is gone, but a memorial plaque honors the ‘grande dame of the Currywurst’, who died in 1999.

Some snack stalls have garnered cult status over time. Among them is Konnopke’s Imbiss, located in a kiosk below the elevated U-Bahn tracks in Prenzlauer Berg. Max Konnopke and his wife Charlotte opened their stand in 1930; in 1960, they became the first outfit in East Berlin to serve Currywurst. It’s family-owned to this day.

The same is true of Bier’s Kudamm 195 in western Berlin whose Currywurst pedigree goes back to 1965. Many of its regulars, including numerous local celebs, enjoy washing down their sausage with a small bottle of Champagne, and it’s often busy until the wee hours. Another popular night owl roost is the famous Curry 36, either the original branch in Kreuzberg or the newish one at Zoo station. bier-s.com/kudamm195, www.curry36.de

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