Ernst is a private fine dining restaurant where a skilled team of young professionals invite you to one of the most progressive and unique dinners you can experience in Berlin right now. Combining the quality focus of a Japanese kitchen with professional service and a relentless dedication towards quality, Ernst will quite simply be one of the most exciting meals you can eat in Berlin this spring.
EDIT: Ernst does no longer exist. Dylan and Spencer chose to close down the restaurant in October 2015 to pursue their dream of a real restaurant. I kept this post live because it tells the story of a restaurant that will never return. An hommage to one of my most unique dining experiences ever.
Two summers ago, in 2013, a young Canadian chef and his friends launched one of the most acclaimed private dining experiences Berlin had ever seen. For one summer, under the name Jung, Grün & Blau, this group of 20-year olds with chef Dylan Watson at its helm, hosted a set of truly extraordinary dinners out of an apartment and challenged the city’s traditional framework of fine dining to the extent that it caused ripples far beyond the city’s borders.
The foundation of Ernst is simplicity.
After 18 months of experimenting, training, spending time with farmers and hosting dinners behind closed doors, this crew is now once again opening up their doors to the public, with an entirely new team, name and location. This is Ernst, the sequel to Jung, Grün & Blau.
The foundation of Ernst is simplicity. The knowledge that most of the work is done by the farmer, and that the most important task is to honour the true nature of every ingredient by bringing out their best characteristics in terms of taste ad texture. Each dinner service will consist of up to 6 guests seated at a round table for a meal that will last approximately 3 hours. The open-kitchen concept of Jung, Grün & Blau has been replaced by a more intimate, secluded dining space where the new front of house Caleb Sulzberger with his years of experience within fine dining will see to a flawless service that goes hand in hand with the food philosophy. There will be no set menu, as each dinner will be unique and the used ingredients highly dependant on the best available produce from the involved producers in that specific season.
The Ernst crew have also established deep connections to a couple of selected, small German vineyards and a consistent dialogue with the winemakers allows them to offer a small but very potent selection of quality wines for drink pairings. With the addition of the beer expert Spencer Christenson to the team, they will also offer the unique option of pairing your meal with a selection of high quality craft beers from breweries across Europe, showcasing both cutting edge bottles with with traditional choices.
If you eat at Ernst, you will be exposed to the true and heroic traits of simple ingredients cooked to perfection
I had the opportunity to attend a test dinner for Ernst and will be able to paint you a picture of what you should expect. This time around I was far from a blank sheet when it comes to food served by this crew, and if you’ve read my review about the previous dinners, you know that I hold Chef Dylan Watson’s food in very high regards. He is a chef that does not compromise, a rare trait in a restaurant scene where everybody tends to play it very safe, and the meals I had at Jung, Grün & Blau still belong to some of the best best food I’ve ever eaten. Best in terms of honouring the true nature of an ingredient to the maximum. Best in terms of providing a very unique and well-curated experience and always going that extra mile to source the very best produce. Best in terms of an abundant willingness to always think further and want more than other chefs. Eighteen months after my last meal from this crew, the memory of the experience was still very vivid and had lost nothing of its affection. The new location used for Ernst turned out to be an interesting change of scenery and the utterly professional service run by Caleb Sulzberger was a great addition to the Jung, Grün & Blau concept. The roughly 20 courses served during the night showcased the progress the kitchen had made and how recess was efficiently used to improve both sourcing and cooking techniques. Highlights included a silky, rich chicken custard with a chicken broth and crispy leeks, an egg yolk with burnt cabbage, brussels sprouts in Mangalitza pig fat…or how about an ice cream made from a home-made cheese that can only be described as a hybrid between a Norwegian sweet cheese and an Italian parmigiano. If you eat at Ernst, you will be exposed to the true and heroic traits of simple ingredients cooked to perfection. You also have to be open minded to appreciate this very scaled down food concept, although Ernst embraces bolder flavours than Jung, Grün & Blau, it’s still a very simplistic and cleansing experience that for some might feel underwhelming after such strong write-ups. A lovely new twist to the new dinner series is the fantastic craft beer pairing, if you’re open minded about beer, Spencer Christenson will serve you some fantastic bottles he sourced across the globe.
Ernst will be an ongoing research and development project and every visit a unique journey into a process where the crew is trying to take their game further. The length of the project is undecided and it might stretch across the summer or also just end before. If you want to see what modern Berlin fine dining outside of the German framework can look like, then I would strongly recommend you to visit Ernst this summer.