UPDATE: Kraut und Reben is no longer running but stay tuned for future projects from this duo!
Kraut und Reben is a new Berlin supper club project by Kristof Mulack and Jan Hugel where a six course menu of contemporary German food is paired with extraordinary wines. This new dining project offers good food, great wines and two of the city’s best hosts in a great setting.
Kraut und Reben is a new Berlin supper club project by Kristof Mulack and Jan Hugel, two characters who are far from unknown in the Berlin food scene. Kristof used to run Mulax, one of the city’s most famous supper clubs where the insurance sales man invited guests to a modern German fine dining experience in Kreuzberg. Kristof closed down his Mulax project in early 2015 in order to take the next step in his culinary journey and in Jan Hugel he found the perfect partner to do that. Jan is one of Berlin’s acclaimed experts when it comes to natural wines and you can usually find him behind the counter at wine bars like the Maxim in Mitte.
Kraut und Reben is a very interesting Berlin food project and definitely worth a visit
They found each other in their love for good food and drink and together they created the new supper club project Kraut und Reben. Kraut und Reben is based on Kristof’s food and Jan cunningly pairs his partner’s culinary creations with the right beverages. Right now the project is based out of the Cooks Connection in Charlottenburg, a lovely little space with an open kitchen that sets the scene for a very intimate dining experience. A night at Kraut und Reben is usually shared between 15 guests and the whole concept puts a lot of emphasis on the personal connection to the hosts. Jan welcomes you at the door with a drink, the time I went it was a very fresh, iced juice spiced with a hint of thyme and a lovely example of Jan’s very innovative beverage pairings. Chef Kristof stays true to his roots and delivers a six course menu with refined German food based on quality ingredients predominantly from the Brandenburg region.
This translates into dishes like the hay potato where a roasted new potato and some cream are smoked over hay and then served as an appetizer. A brilliant dish, where subtle smoke flavours add a welcome level of complexity to this simple arrangement. Same goes for a white asparagus dish, where the vegetable is beautifully accentuated with the help of sour cream and spruce buds foraged from a nearby wood. A good dish, where the use of an unusual and delicious item like spruce creates a lasting impression. Another, noteworthy component of the meal is an interlude in the form of a bowl of Sauerkraut soup. The very intense liquid, served right in the middle of the menu, seems to be intended as a palate cleanser and is very intense and delicious, yet also slightly overpowering in context of the rater delicate meal.
Beverage master Jan is a ridiculous pro and a man that masters the art of hosting
The quality of the food definitely peaked during the early dishes when I visited Kraut und Reben. Kristof’s signature dish used to be a dessert built around a spectacular Spreewaldgurken ice cream. At Kraut und Reben he had replaced it with a dill ice cream, a dessert with a similar surprise effect, but not really showcasing the same, complex flavour profile. The food is good, but not great. In the end, the strongest dishes of the night are the simplest ones and I catch myself thinking of the potato dish and similar flavour bombs Kristof used to cook at Mulax. Important in the context is that my one and only visit to Kraut und Reben wasn’t perfectly timed, the guys were battling a couple of delivery issues and were short on both time and resources. The conditions to deliver a perfect meal were far from perfect and considering that, my meal was very good. I’m more questioning the general direction of the food concept and wondering if it’s in their interest to venture too far in their quest to be the new Nobelhart & Schmutzig, which is basically what they are doing right now. I’d much rather see Chef Kristof simplify the menu a bit, pursue his own vision and incorporate his identity into every dish. That is for me the recipe to push his food from good to great.
Kraut und Reben is very much not only about the food though. Beverage master Jan is a ridiculous pro and a man that masters the art of hosting. Not only does he surprise with an extraordinary versatile beverage pairing that includes items like a local pale ale and a fresh cucumber juice, he also makes sure no wine glass stays empty during the whole night while he passionately educates guests on his favourite topic of natural wines. Guests will leave Kraut und Reben drunk and smart and this is thanks to Jan. His wine choices throughout the night are nothing but spectacular and this might just be one of the best wine pairings the city has to offer right now.
Kraut und Reben is a very interesting Berlin food project and definitely worth a visit. You are guaranteed to have an extraordinary dining experience, Kristof and Jan are marvellous hosts and they will make you feel truly special from the moment you walk into their dining room. And in the true nature of the supper club, you will leave a night at Kraut und Reben with some new friends or at least some great stories to tell.