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contemporary German fine dining

Mar 22nd, 2012

Update: Reinstoff closed in January 2019.

Reinstoff is two star Michelin restaurant offering a contemporary German fine dining concept with a lot of finesse. It is really the place to go if you’re looking for a meal from one of the most talented German chefs Berlin has to offer.

In order to understand this article properly I’d like to shed some light on the slightly strange world of Michelin star dining, otherwise you might think there is something seriously wrong with me. Many people like to spend their money on travelling the world. I do too, it’s awesome. But going to a 2 or 3 star Michelin star restaurant is a also a journey, a culinary one. For anyone with a food interest I strongly recommend doing such a journey at least once in your life, it’s an epic experience. Of course it’s also epically expensive, but once you realize the effort that goes into running such a restaurant it feels more justified. Interestingly enough, it’s also one of the most democratic restaurant experiences you’ll ever have. These places live of their reputation of serving consistently perfect dinners and they know that theoretically anyone could be a reviewer. So regardless of how old you are, how you look and dress like, what you order and so on, in a restaurant that’s really striving for stars you will be treated as royally as any celebrity. Essentially, being awarded stars comes to down to delivering a (literally) spotless experience in terms of food, drinks, service and clean location.

Now that you have an idea of what kind of restaurant we’re talking about here, let’s talk about Reinstoff. I’ll have to make clear that unlike my usual reviewed restaurants I’ve only visited Reinstoff once. Multiple visits would seriously strain my finances and the essence of having 2 stars means consistency, right? So I should be just fine.

When you enter you are struck by a dark and modern venue with subtle lighting, very appealing.

The restaurant is located in a very quite street in northern Mitte close to Nordbahnhof. When you walk past the location in a backyard you hardly notice the cubic restaurant venue. When you enter you are struck by a dark and modern venue with subtle lighting, very appealing. Head chef Daniel Achille’s menu concept works as following: First you get a small amuse-gueule in form of four small tapas (see first picture) and after eating those you make your menu choice. You have two choices to make, first if you want the “Ganz Nah” menu with locally sourced ingredients or the “Weiter Draussen” menu with more exotic ingredients like truffel and caviar. Second choice for you is the number of dishes, you can choose between  5 and 8. While the distinction between the ingredients of the menus makes sense, it does create a certain confusion around the food concept. Thinking about it afterwards, I couldn’t really answer the question “So what kind of food did they have?” in a good way except that it’s modern and that they use at least some techniques from the molecular gastronomy. So why two menus? It seems like the chef felt forced to incorporate fine dining ingredients like truffle in his menu. It would make much more sense to have just one signature menu where you can choose the number of dishes.

We had the full “Ganz Nah” menu with 6 dishes as it made the most sense. The menu had two fish dishes and several dishes where vegetables played the protagonist, I really liked that. The best way to summarize the food experience would be to focus on four of the dishes. The starter “Felchen, Raps-Mayonnaise und gegrilltes Brot” with a cured, regional whitefish paired with fennel mayo and grilled bread was a bombshell. Perfect fish, perfect taste combinations and perfect consistencies – a winner.

Generally very good food, the two fish dishes were outstanding and the chocolate dessert should not have made it on the menu.

Sadly enough that wasn’t matched by all succeeding dishes. The artichoke was very good, but the “Saurer Blattkohl im Frühjahr” with goat sour cream and peppers was quite ordinary and owerpowered by the goat, the “Birnenholz und Borgmann Kräuterlikör” was nice but essentially a desert which was placed in the middle of menu (to “cleanse” your palette), I didn’t get that. Luckily, after that we were served the main dish “Bachforelle, Vogelbeere, Pilze und Wasserkresse” and bam, they were back on track again. Another winner, perfectly cooked filet of trout with a silky, smooth mushroom sauce, garnished with taste-bomb-cubes of mushrooms. Possibly the best cooked mushrooms I’ve ever had.

After this exquisite dish, all the chef de patisserie had to do is reel me in with a simple desert. But he served me this.
Looks pretty amazing right? “Schokolade, Karamellbonbon und Sojamilch”, a chocolate ganache, soy milk ice cream, caramel cubes and the classic maltodextrin “snow” – it also sounds amazing. It wasn’t though, sorry, and the presentation was a bit ridiculous when you consider the taste. The ganache was not rich enough, the ice cream tasted like water, the snow like dust and the caramel was also not very good. Not a winner, and not a two star dish. Luckily enough they sent us home with another set of tapas of which some were very nice.

The food conclusion: Generally very good food, the two fish dishes were outstanding and the chocolate dessert should not have made it on the menu.

The experience is not all about the food though, from the beginning to the end the service was close to flawless. The waiters are young but still very professional and friendly, even sneaking in a joke here and there which is nice and unusual in such a place (giggling waiter telling me over my shoulder “Watch out, this dish is terrible!”) :). The sommelier, who also was the Maitre D’, was consulting us in a very professional way from the start to the end and the sekt and wines we had were absolutely outstanding, hands down. As a matter of fact I still dream about the Spätburgunder I had.

All in all Reinstoff will hold what it promises to most guests, especially in terms of the total experience of venue, food, wines and service. At the same time I can’t deny that the overall food experience was below my expectations and I’ve had better two star food. Next time I’ll go for the 2 star experience, I’ll probably choose to spend my money somewhere else. Unless I heard that the chef has cut down to one signature menu, focusing on fish dishes with local ingredients and replaced the dessert chef. Then I’d be back on the waiting list tomorrow.