The Michelberger hotel is one of the coolest hotels in Berlin and its restaurant an undervalued gem in the Friedrichshain restaurant scene. Visit this lovely establishment for lunch or dinner and enjoy fresh and modern European food with plenty of international influences in a fantastic venue right on Warschauer Straße.
The Michelberger is a very special hotel in Friedrichshain and a place that embraces the Berlin spirit to the max. Guests are offered a home away from home while they are in Berlin in a hotel unlike any other in the city. Although the Michelberger only recently celebrated its fifth birthday, it has in this time not only established itself as one of the secret hotel tips of Berlin, but also as what quite possibly could be the number one artist hangout of the city. The reason for that is on one hand the proximity to Universal Studios and the Berlin’s best nightlife, but ultimately it comes down to people behind the Michelberger project and the very special vibe they have created within this hotel. Forget the stiff hotel concept as you know it, Michelberger was designed to be a hangout for friends and this founding spirit is still very much alive in today’s hotel operation. When you step into the lobby, you don’t feel like you’re stepping into a hotel but into a living room or a cosy bar. You feel like you’re home.
The result is a modern European restaurant with a German foundation and plenty of international influences.
With its location right on Warschauer Straße and the lack of quality lunch options in the area, the Michelberger restaurant has been a popular lunch spot for quite a while. About a year ago the Michelberger quietly relaunched the restaurant to develop a whole new food concept and especially to open up for dinner service. The person put in charge of this relaunch was Head Chef Alan Micks, an Irishman from Limerick who has worked the industry for the last twenty years and who has seen it all. From his early culinary upbringing in Irish kitchens he learned his way within classical fine dining in London, broadened his skill set with an endless amount of stages across the globe like the iconic WD 50 in New York and then finally worked the upcoming restaurant scene in New Zealand where he learned to work with some of the best ingredients on the planet. His broad experience within both finer dining and simpler kitchens combined with his knowledge on how to source the highest quality produce proved to be the perfect match with the Michelberger owner’s idea of a modern hotel restaurant. Chef Alan has spent the last 12 months developing the kitchen concept while building relations with suppliers and producers from the nearby region. He staffed his kitchen crew with cooks from all over the planet for more inspiration and for the least year even had Micha Schäfer from Nobelhart & Schmutzig working in his kitchen in an interim position. The result is a modern European restaurant with a German foundation and plenty of international influences.
The Michelberger is located right on Warschauer Straße and once you’ve found your way to the lovely and spacious dining room through the lobby, you can watch the U7 subway trains arrive and depart across the street. The dining room is spectacularly cosy and lovely, the tiled walls work perfectly with the dimmed lights and the random furniture and create a fantastic atmosphere.
One of the stars of this menu is undeniably the smoked potato mash, a side dish that is so damn tasty that I could go on forever talking about it
Lunch and dinner menus are completely different and you won’t have to worry about getting bored at Michelberger. For lunch, the menu is a bit more condensed with about nine dishes and the food has a stronger, German focus with reoccurring events like the Schnitzel Wednesdays, filling up the restaurant to last seat. For dinner, the menu gets a bit more international and interesting. There are around 20 dishes on the menu, including a couple of daily specials, offering a couple of choices within meat, fish, pasta and vegetables. A great starter is the smoked fish mousse made from locally sourced fish from the Müritz, served with pickled fennel and apple, something that might not sound to intriguing but truly is delicious with that perfectly balanced mousse being the star on the plate. In another starter, pieces of the good old Schweinshaxe have been baked into larger version of the Spanish croquette and are served with pickled veggies and a mustard aioli. Smart and very tasty. The main dishes are equally diverse, you can for example enjoy a Havelländer pork in three different versions: belly, loin and blood sausage; a dish where the juicy and crispy pork outshine the side vegetables. Or you just go for the fish of the day, sourced from Frische Paradies, usually a fillet of a white fish served with a couple of veggies and some sauce. Solid food.
One of the stars of this menu is undeniably the smoked potato mash, a side dish that is so damn tasty that I could go on forever talking about it. Think a buttery, velvety consistency where the butter has been smoked to give the mash a subtle smokiness that elevates the dish to a whole new level. Do not leave Michelberger restaurant without trying this. Same thing goes for the salsify dish, oven roasted with butter it works ridiculously well with the sautéed portabello mushrooms and dots of lemon onion puree. If all of the dishes were of the same quality as the fish mousse, potato mash and salsify I’d be praising the Michelberger to the skies. At this point, this is not the case yet and some dishes might feel out of concept and slightly unbalanced, but this does really not affect the overall, very positive vibe of this restaurant.
When Chef Alan gets a dish right it’s damn delicious
The wine list is nothing the raise to the skies yet (work in progress, I’ve been promised), but in terms of beer selection there are already some very fine options with the Mikkeller Pale Ale on tap being an absolute highlight and something I consume vigorously upon every visit. They even have their own Michelberger Mikkeller beer, which of course goes by the name of Mikkelberger, a citrusy Pale Ale with a bomb bottle design. And after the meal, why not take a little digestif in the form of the Michelberger house brand which is manufactured by the Preußische Spirituosenmanufaktur in Wedding.
A meal at Michelberger is clever and modern, yet very comforting and familiar. The whole place is just full of ridiculously friendly people and the great vibe is picked up effortlessly by the service staff in the restaurant. Chef Alan’s vast experience shows in every dish and his dedication to sourcing quality produce is key to the success in his food and also a great symbol of the new generation of chefs developing in the Berlin. The menu is not perfect and every dish is definitely not spot on, but when Chef Alan gets a dish right it’s damn delicious and something you’ll remember long after eating it. The Michelberger restaurant is still in an early development phase and we can expect a lot of interesting things to happen here in the future. And with the hotel being an artist hangout you might just be able to catch a fantastic concert in the lobby after your meal while you enjoy a fabulous cocktail made from their own coconut water brand next to the newest, upcoming indie artist.