The infamous French fry. In Berlin commonly known as “Pommes” or “Fritte”. Often seen in company with a gang of sausage pieces that have been savagely drowned in curry-ketchup. Yes, fries are a cherished drunk food in Berlin and as a result, aside from a few isolated attempts, there’s really never been a movement to thoroughly perfect the art of frying potato sticks. The opening of “Goldies” in the heart of the Kreuzberg bar district around Kottbusser Tor in early 2017 was the first full-on attack on the topic, orchestrated by a duo of highly trained professionals on a mission to redeem the century-long disinterest Germans had displayed when it came to the art of quality fry making.
“…there’s really never been a movement of thoroughly perfectioning the art of frying potato sticks.”
Kajo Hiesl and Vladislav Gachyn are two chefs who became very good buddies during their apprenticeships at the Michelin starred restaurant VAU in Berlin. WhenVladislav eventually moved on to the fine-dining powerhouse, “AQUA”, in Wolfsburg he made sure the two were quickly reunited and hired Kajo to join the three star institution.
Cooking in what arguably can be called one of the best kitchens in Germany sparked plenty of ambition and ideas among the two cheerful young guns. They were eager to embark on a project of their own and the idea that stuck was a high-end Imbiss dedicated only to fries. Today, they recall the act of complete specialization in one single item as particularly enticing. It allowed them to travel around the world to research the best French fry makers (“Maison Antoine in Brussels – I even tried to stage in the restaurant but they wouldn’t let me” Vladi recalls); as well as perfect their own recipe. This recipe is a living organism that gets adjusted to the seasonality and age of the potato, but in its essence we’re talking about double-fried fries where the second turn is done in beef fat.
“..the first full-on attack on the topic, orchestrated by a duo of highly trained professionals on a mission to redeem the century-long disinterest Germans had displayed when it comes to the art of quality fry making.”
Vladislav and Kajo realized from the start that serving just fries would not make the 25-seat restaurant on Oranienstraße profitable, so they configured a range of intricate toppings to go alongside. Noteworthy examples include “Odessa’s Beeten” – a homage to Vladislav’s Ukrainian childhood roots with red beets, horseradish mayo, cabbage, carrot slaw, dill and (of course) a shot of vodka – that last part is not mandatory though. Highly recommended is the “Miso-Furikake” – an Asian hybrid with miso mayonnaise, pickled radish and sprinkles of a Furikake sesame mix. The Berlin-themed “Eisbein” with pulled boiled pork knuckle, a healthy amount of sauerkraut and crunchy pork skin crackling is legendary, and if you’re really looking for that little extra piece of indulgence make sure you have the truffle fries that are on the menu once in a while.
“The Berlin-themed “Eisbein” with pulled boiled pork knuckle, a healthy amount of sauerkraut and crunchy pork skin crackling is legendary”
This story of two chefs of such calibre opening up their casual take on a “Frittenbude” across the street from the legendary Kreuzberg punk rock bar, SO36, drew me in like a magnet from the very get go. Initial visits right after the opening were discouraging though, not because it wasn’t entertaining, but because when it came down to the actual French fry, expectations were just not met. The fries weren’t special, neither crunchy enough nor soft enough in the bite. Goldies slipped off my radar as a result and months passed. Then, in a revisit in the summer of 2018, something had changed. The fries had a whole different character to them and the toppings were a lot more refined. And now there was fried chicken -an experimental item on the menu- marvellously crispy, smothered in a green chilli butter and dripping with juices during the first bite. This was the moment I had been waiting for all along. A Michelin-starred fried chicken where every bite revealed more of the extensive testing and learning process this glorious dish had seen.
Goldies is finally the restaurant I wanted it to be from the get go. A simple establishment where you can get the best “Fritten” in Berlin and where learning curves are so steep that further development is inevitable. Watch out for Vladi and Kajo, because these guys are far from done when it comes to putting their mark on the Berlin food scene.