Lode van Zuylen and Stijn Remi are two Dutch gentlemen who are at fault that the names Lode and Stijn are a big thing within the Berlin food scene. These two prime specimens of extraordinarily well-mannered chefs from the land of gouda cheese and wood clogs have wooed Berliners with their cooking skills during their pop ups long enough. Yes, the name “Lode & Stijn” now proudly hovers above Lausitzer Straße 25 and on April 6th 2016 the two of them embarked on their journey of bistroficating Berlin with the help of fried bitterballen.
“..on April 6th 2016 the two of them embarked on their journey of bistroficating Berlin with the help of fried bitterballen.”
Lode and Stijn were in a way always destined to run a restaurant together. Hospitality runs in their blood, Lode’s parents own a bakery and Stijn’s parents a restaurant. They also attended Dutch culinary school together and then worked restaurant for three years. And when they eventually did go separate ways, with Lode making pit stops at Matthias Dahlgren in Stockholm and the iconic Bar Tartine in San Francisco and Stijn working at the Four Seasons in Prag and Hamburg, the two of them always hoped for an eventual reunion with their culinary spirit brother.
Turns out that this brotherly love didn’t fade and ten years later the common denominator of German girlfriends reunited Lode and Stijn in Berlin. The specific location of their reunion turned out to be the Markthalle Neun, the culinary epicentre of Berlin, where Lode started working as a baker at Sironi and Stijn as a chef at Big Stuff BBQ. Using these jobs as a base they started realizing their dream of their very own restaurant, teasing us with spectacular pop ups and building a solid fan base in the process.
“What used to be a strange café with awkwardly pink walls is now a contemporary and pleasantly unique restaurant”
Lode & Stijn opened the doors to their completely refurbished restaurant and the work done on this venue is extraordinary. What used to be a strange café with awkwardly pink walls is now a contemporary and pleasantly unique restaurant with a lot of love for details. The vibe is sophisticated yet casual, with beautiful wooden chairs complementing the extraordinarily cool wooden benches that line the wall. The usage of the space always strikes me as very smart and the open and transparent kitchen in the back illuminates the faces of guests seated at the massive chef’s table.
Eating at Lode & Stijn’s can go two ways, either you explore their a la carte menu of smaller plates (tip – share them family style) or you leave your fate in the hands of the chefs and go for the five course tasting menu. Regardless of which path you choose to venture down on, you will have the distinct pleasure to encounter Lode van Zuylen’s outrageously good bread baking skills at an early point of your dinner. His sourdough bread with it’s distinctively charred crust is amazing beyond words and belongs to the best damn bread you can get in Berlin, without a doubt.
“His sourdough bread with it’s distinctively charred crust is amazing beyond words and belongs to the best damn bread you can get in Berlin”
The food at Lode & Stijn is symbolic of a style of cooking you’ll find at modern restaurants in the Western world, where young chefs with fine dining experience venture down simpler paths. Produce focused, simple, no-fuss cooking influenced by multiple cuisines. Eating at Lode & Stijn is essentially an exercise in simplicity and a culinary memoir of the two owners combined culinary upbringing. Plates never feature more than three to four main ingredients and a large part of the menu will change on a weekly basis according the seasonal availability of ingredients.
The best example of their food are the divine and utterly heavenly deep fried Dutch beef Bitterballen, served with fresh mayo and known to have made grown men weep out of pleasure. Another signature dish is the smoked trout with blood sausage and potato salad that made its initial appearance at the Silo Coffee pop up and is an insanely brilliant dish getting better with each visit. Same goes for the beef tartar on charred sourdough with oyster emulsion and fried capers, a dish so perfectly balanced and smashingly satisfying that I proclaim it the sexiest dish in Berlin food today.
Every dish is certainly not as sexy as the tartar and certain oyster and Hungarian cheese dumpling elements have to dismissed as experiments, something inherently normal for a three week old restaurant that reinvents itself every week. Same goes for the wines, while the standard open bottles aren’t very exciting, Stijn has a very good arsenal of old world contemporary bottles on stock, a lot of them natural.
“The best example of their food are the divine and utterly heavenly deep fried Dutch beef Bitterballen, served with fresh mayo and known to have made grown men weep out of pleasure.”
Lode and Stijn is essentially the most anticipated opening of the year (so far) and such an event is inherently tied to expectations. People are in the process of making up their minds about this place. Is all of it great? Maybe a bit expensive?
I’ve personally tried Lode & Stijn’s cooking in the past and it did, with a few exceptions, leave me with a strong sensation that there is looming greatness on the horizon. Walking in through the door of Lode & Stijn the restaurant the first time, I realized all of our expectations might just be too high. Walking out through the door on my second visit, I knew they weren’t. This restaurant is bloody great and with time it has all the potential in the world to become amazing. Most of the food is refreshingly delicious, the venue is stunning, the service youthfully charming. Is it too expensive? I honestly don’t think so, but also totally understand if someone feels that way as it is more expensive then most stuff we’re used to. The problem is that we’re also used to mediocre restaurants. If we want these kinds of people to independently open these kinds of restaurants and run them successfully, we also have to pay the price. 60€ for five dishes and snacks are totally worth that in my world.
Lode & Stijn joins the ranks of The Store Kitchen, Industry Standard and Cordobar as the elite bistrofication squad of Berlin and I feel eternally happy that we have these kinds of restaurants in Berlin today. Thinking about it, I really can’t wait to visit Lode& Stijn again. But most importantly, and more applicable here than anywhere else, I can’t wait to visit this restaurant in one year. Because greatness is looming on the horizon, more brightly than ever before.