Edit: Martha’s is permanently closed as of Summer 2017
Marthas’s in Schöneberg is a new restaurant with a very fresh concept serving a contemporary German menu. Add a stunning location, ridiculously friendly service and you have the recipe to be the talk of town when to comes to restaurant openings.
Martha’s in Schöneberg is a name you should remember. Being the famous “talk of town” when it comes to new restaurants does not necessarily have to mean much in Berlin. With the right marketing, a bomb venue and a concept that just differs a bit from what customers are used to, you can build up quite a hype without necessarily serving great food. In the last weeks, two new restaurants were frequently mentioned to me in discussions, both of them having young, German chef with a Michelin star background at the reigns in the kitchen. The first one, Anton Kocht, didn’t impress upon the first visit and slightly killed my vibe and initial excitement about the prospect of young, German chefs finally starting up their own concepts outside the traditional, German framework of fine dining. Luckily, when it comes to the second opening, Martha’s in Schöneberg, my concerns were entirely unnecessary as this place is really pretty good.
Located in central Schöneberg, Martha’s is a cosy and very beautiful restaurant. From the bar to the classy furniture and the wallpaper to the the ridiculous ceilings, this venue is cracking and very well balanced. It’s effortlessly beautiful without going overboard like so many other, new restaurant venues that tend to try too much. This restaurant venue perfectly sets the scene for a sophisticated but yet casual dining experience.
The brains behind Martha’s are an architect and a young, German chef by the name of Manuel Schmuck (26 yrs) who previously worked at Michelin star awarded restaurants like the Reinstoff and Steieregg. Trivia: The restaurant is named after the owners daughter (please, how cool is THAT for a teenager? “I have a restaurant named after me”). More trivia:
The owner and the chef found each other via an ad on eBay Kleinanzeigen. God bless the fucking internet! It does indeed seem like a potential match made in heaven, because just like the perfectionism of an architect is showcased in the venue, the same level of professionalism shines through in the menu.
Martha’s menu combines flavours in a very gutsy concept, using traditional, German produce as a base and integrating ingredients and flavours from Asia and the Mediterranean. Such a concept is usually a solid recipe for disaster due to the lack of a coherent flavour profiles, but Martha’s is different. The bread basket alone says all about the level of ambition of this kitchen, a sublime blood sausage roll is served with a perfect Laugenstange and a couple of great spreads, oils and butter. This is just the beginning, for the starters I encounter my two favourite dishes at Martha’s, the trout and the duck, both dishes were the heroes of the plates are the proteins. The trout is cured in kombu, dressed with a miso vinaigrette and served with small, all dente cooked beets and crispy potato chips. It’s so delicious that I would go ahead and call this one of the best fish dishes I’ve had in Berlin this year, period. The fish melts on your tongue and it’s perfectly cooked. Impressive. The duck breast provokes an even more intense experience when it comes to textures, it’s been sous-vide cooked and lightly smoked and the result are a couple of velvety, almost buttery slices of duck.
Luckily the chef shows some mortality when it comes to the mains, while the fish dish with red beats and an amaranth risotto is, once again, very good, the steak actually is tough and not particularly exciting. The waiter promises a change of meat for the future though and looking at the menu today, this has already happened. The menu is also slightly confusing at this point as the chef keeps a couple of dishes on the menu, which don’t really make sense or fit into the flavour profile, such as the Poutine with Kimchi. I have a hunch that the chef will realize this over time though.
The fact that the service is some of the most attentive and genuinely caring I’ve encountered, that the porcelain used is ridiculously pretty and that the house wines are both tasty and well priced all add to the fat that Martha’s is a very attractive opening. The hype is real and I would definitely go as far as calling Martha’s one of the most exciting restaurant openings of the last 6 months, maybe even 2014. I love it when someone takes a risk and pulls it off. That’s also why Anton at Anton Kocht shouldn’t be too sad about me not liking the food this time, it’s all about taking risks and learning from it. I’ll be returning to Martha’s as often as possible, and if Chef Schmuck doesn’t keep up the quality level I will be personally offended. Because the potential of this restaurant is immense and I can’t wait to see the development.