Berlin Food Digest #4

the Berlin food year of 2015

Dec 31st, 2015

Dear Berlin Food Friends,

Welcome to the very last Berlin Food Digest of 2015! BOOM! I would like to use these few last hours of the year for a couple of reflective thoughts on this year of eating. Because, my oh my, what a food year it has been for Berlin! Signup here to receive the Berlin Food Digest in your inbox every month, stuffed full of the hottest food news, events, gossip, jobs and new openings.

The year of 2015 will for me forever go down in the Berlin history books as the moment when the city previously only known for techno and currywurst stepped out of its culinary shadow and caught the attention of the non-German food world. Because, my dear Berliners, in case you haven’t noticed, we’re right in the centre of the simultaneous clash and fusion of the Germano-centric vs. the Spanish/Anglo-centric food universes where nobody really know what’s going to happen. One thing is certain though, the interest for the topic of food has never been higher in Berlin and it shows in every part of the city. From the 23 different food delivery services competing for your Sunday night food booty call with thousands of billboards to club legend Heinz Cookies closing his iconic club and turning it into a bloody restaurant. Ladies and gentlemen, food is pop music and whether you like it our not, you better get used to it, because this is just the start.

The year of 2015 will for me forever go down in the Berlin history books as the moment when the city previously only known for techno and currywurst stepped out of its culinary shadow

The food year of 2015 was for me the year of bold, culinary entrepreneurs and their restaurants. A selected number of projects managed to change and shape the Berlin food landscape forever and and they stand at the heart of the before mentioned clash of Germany versus the rest of gastronomy. This very elaborate list of restaurants earn my title for the most important Berlin openings of 2015. In no particular order, here they are:

  1. Nobelhart & Schutzig, the modern German fine dining restaurant where chef Micha Schäfer took the concept of regional produce limitation to Berlin and where owner Billy Wagner was propelled from known sommelier to neo-German food celebrity, earning a Michelin Star in the process.
  2. The Store Kitchen, the stunningly innovative lunch place where two relatively inexperienced British guys are cooking some of the most creative health food Berlin has ever seen. 2016 means dinner service and I’m excited.
  3. Dottir, the third restaurant by Boris Radcun and Stefan Landwehr, where two young Nordic chefs invite you to a stunningly delicious and contemporary Scandinavian meal in an ancient and soon to be demolished house in Mitte, serving what quite possibly is the the best seafood in Berlin.
  4. Industry Standard, the eatery with attitude that brought brilliantly delicious bistro food to Berlin in the most relaxed setting and properly put Neukölln on the food map.
  5. Ernst, the private dining concept by young Dylan Watson and Spencer Christenson where the region’s finest produce was showcased in outrageously well-composed 20-course dinners and left everyone hungry for more when it closed.

What sets these brilliant restaurants apart from their Berlin peers is simple: They could not only compete in cities like Copenhagen, Stockholm, London and Paris, no, they would even do damn well. And they show the rest of the German food scene how far simplicity can take you. Until now we really haven’t had any contemporary restaurants that could claim that. But now we do and every time someone comes to Berlin I’m immensely proud to show them these restaurants and I thank the bold minds behind these projects for putting their asses on the line and pushing their dreams. Don’t worry if poor old Heinz Horrman finds no Bordeaux at your place or Eva-Maria Hilker refuses to visit your restaurant because you’re only serving a fixed menu. I got your back. And the future is bright.

Because my oh my, what a food year it has been for Berlin.

These were of course not the only noteworthy openings in Berlin this year, I have in fact seen more restaurants open in 2015 then during any other year. Like the ridiculous amount of super-hip, over-styled Asian restaurants owned by Vietnamese youngsters that get by just fine serving extremely mediocre food. Like Tommi from Iceland who as one of the first quality franchise projects sent one of his bearded family members to Berlin to please us with juicy burgers. Like Standard and Zola that kicked off the Napoli pizza frenzy and made us understand the potential of the perfect crust. Like Chicha, Bun Bao, Fräulein Kimchi and Hirsch & Eber, people who all took the step from street food booth to proper restaurant. Like Pacifico and Chilees who escalated the Korean burger frenzy. Like Zenkichi and House of Small Wonder who brought proper Tokyo food to Berlin. The variety of restaurant openings staggering and it’s been a bloody blast eating all this epic food. These restaurants have shown the true potential of culinary Berlin and what the city’s food minds capable with the right demand and attention from media.

It’s not all about restaurant openings though, we also saw the largest amount of mayor food events happen. The Berlin Food Week stepped it up several notches in a massive location and the Stadt Land Food festival turned into a TedX symposium. We also celebrated three fantastic Schlachtfests in the Markthalle Neun in the honour of sustainable beef, pig and lamb farming and these evenings were truly special to everyone who attended. But the event that really managed to draw an International crowd was the RAW Natural Wine fair in November and I’m looking forward to more events in the future to do the same. We need the world come to come to Berlin in a more frequent manner so that we can take the next step in our evolution.

As a result one of the most important scenes for the city’s street food scene was lost

Everything was of course not fine and dandy and we also saw some friends go. Like Mj’s in Neukölln, Organic Glamour in Mitte or, most importantly, Neue Heimat in Friedrichshain where the owners didn’t comply to the continuous requests by the authorities and where as a result one of the most important scenes for the city’s street food scene was lost. Hopefully not forever.

In the end you know it’s a good food year when pretty much all my favourite restaurants have been replaced by new ones. When I look back on the few hours that mark the last The thing that’s most certain is that we’ve merely seen the peak of the iceberg. A good friend of mine used a very fitting metaphor a while ago to describe the state of the Berlin food scene: “It’s like a huge jumbo jet that’s accelerating on the runway, ready to lift off and disappear into the sky. I strongly believe that 2016 is the year this jet takes off and I can’t wait to take a seat at the window.

NOTES

Have you ever mixed a cocktail with Grand Marnier? No? Well, that’s quite alright, because neither had I nor ten other bloggers before they joined me two weeks ago for a apero hosted by myself and Grand Marnier. In an epic collaboration between bartender Arnd Heissen (Ritz Carlton) and chef Stefan Endres (Bone Berlin & Mr. Susan) we got to experience the vast possibilities of the renowned spirit brand from France in a stunning cocktail and food pairing. The favourite? A pear and tonka bean cocktail with the Grand Marnier Le Parisien edition paired with a modern take of the duck a l’orange using dehydrated oranges. Smashing combo and a fantastic food and drink night. And the bottle of Grand Marnier? Made it straight to my liquor cabinet for the next cocktail night.

On the topic of smashing food I finally checked out place that’s been on my list for quite a while: Shaniu’s House of Noodles in Wilmersdorf. Turns out that the rumours are true, their hand-pulled noodles are fantastic and the dim sum also quite good. The beef noodle soup broth might not have been too spectacular though…

And speaking about blogger collaborations and the search for the best food I once again partnered up with premium delivery service Foodora to assemble some of Berlin’s finest food bloggers for a Good Food Tour. The topic for the third edition was Bibimbap and most of the attendees agreed that YamYam in Mitte served the best one. Hello all burnt rice lovers.

One project I initiated in 2015 was the search for the best Döner Kebab in Berlin. Several Döners made it on the list throughout the year and the last one to make it was Rüya, the outrageously good Chicken Döner in Schöneberg.

In case you don’t care about any of this and only great gift ideas, I got you covered. A couple of weeks ago “Comfort Zone – The Berlin Cookbook” was released, a stunningly lovely collection of comfort food recipes from several, Berlin expats – including myself! Buy the book to get my secret, Swedish fish pie and Toast Skagen recipe.

OPENING

Eins unter Null is the name of one the most anticipated restaurants of the year. The brain behind this contemporary eatery is Ivo Ebert, one of the members of the original Reinstoff founders, and I’m particularly looking forward to checking this one out.

Parts of the Chicago Williams crew have left the BBQ eatery to start a craft beer pub near Nordbahnhof.

Our prayers have been heard and the Berlin ramen scene finally has a new player. It’s called Takumi Nine, it’s operating out of the old venue of Hanage and it’s pretty damn promising. On a first visit I’d this place probably won’t knock Cocolo of it’s throne, but it will definitely give them a good run for their money.

GOSSIP

Rumor says Industry Standard is opening up a wine bar in the Späti on the next corner. Pretty damn exciting.

Lode and Stijn’s new restaurant? Dylan Watson opening a REAL restaurant? I can’t wait for 2016!

 

Grand Marnier Berlin Dinner_
The Grand Marnier Apero

Grand Marnier Berlin Duck Grand Marnier Berlin Food Stories

Grand Marnier Berlin Le Cafe Parisien
The Grand Marnier special edition “Le Café Parisien”
Shaniu House of Noodles Dim sum
Shaniu’s House of Noodles Berlin Dim sum Dumplings
Takumi Nine Berlin Ramen
A bowl of Ramen from Takumi Nine

 

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