It's been nearly half a decade since I last wrote a few words about Hallman & Klee in Rixdorf – since then, the restaurant has undergone a series of remarkable transformations. Sarah Hallmann, the owner and culinary visionary, has led her establishment to new heights and few other restaurants in Berlin are more talked about than Hallmann & Klee. Recently named "Gastronomin des Jahres 2023" by Gault Millau (Restaurateur of the Year) and widely regarded as one of the most worthwhile fine dining eats in Berlin's inner food circle, many critics would agree that Hallmann & Klee nowadays can comfortably measure up to and be categorized alongside most one-star restaurants in Berlin.
“ As the dishes from our chosen menus arrived, we became witness to the true power of this kitchen.
The ambiance of Hallmann & Klee remains captivating with the familiar setting that enchanted me years ago on Böhmischer Platz. In most ways, this is still very much the same restaurant that I visited 5 years ago, but in many ways it’s also vastly different. The à la carte menu has been replaced by two six-course options, priced at 95 EUR each - a meat-based menu and a vegetarian one. Serendipitously, my dining partner and I decided to order one of each, something I’ll get back to later.
The restaurant, situated amidst a Berliner Kiez (Berlin word for neighborhood), complete with rousing games of table tennis and children laughing on wooden bicycles in your eyeline, showcases Sarah Hallmann's ability to seamlessly integrate fine dining into a setting that is uniquely Berlin.
“ Sarah Hallmann's ability to seamlessly integrate fine dining into a setting that is uniquely Berlin.
The restaurant is still predominantly operated by women, with Rosa Beutelspacher (ex-Facil) leading the cooks in the kitchen and Sarah Hallmann herself leading the floor together with Patricia Lee, the sommelier, who guided us to a remarkable South African Chenin Blanc from Beaumont that perfectly complemented our culinary journey.
As the dishes from our chosen menus arrived, we became witness to the true power of this kitchen. Here’s a rundown of the highlights
Kicking off service with a superb amuse bouche langos followed by sheets of kohlrabi marinated in mandarin and a hint of chili, a dish’s glowing and bright yellow color reflected the way it caressed our palates; silky smooth and also fruity, with a pleasant finish of raw chili spice.
The Wagyu tartare had just the right size and with the salt and vinegar sunchoke chips managed to coax out a big old smile on my face despite the (in my opinion) slightly dated nature of a tartare on a tasting menu.
As one of the more interesting chicken dishes of recent memory, we were served a bowl of an explosively tasty chicken broth, covered with a plate containing a chicken skin cracker topped with raw scallops - a surf n turf combo for the gods.
A parcel (think like a vegetarian crepinette) of iceberg lettuce from the vegetarian menu came filled with shiitake and covered in the most luscious elderflower hollandaise.
“ The only fault I could find with the signature potato mash dish with whey was that I wanted more of it. MUCH more.
The only fault I could find with the signature potato mash dish with whey was that I wanted more of it. MUCH more. The hand rolled pici (a kind of fat spaghetti) with black nori powder, cheese, yuzu and spinach were marvelous and therefore inhaled in about 18 seconds, give or take.
The add-on cheese dish with Heggelbach and Elstar cheeses was probably the least memorable dish and you might not have to order it all. Banana with Dulce for dessert (bit too much banana for a pair of banana haters, but still a strong dish) for the apple ice cream.
“ Hallmann & Klee offers one of the city's finest vegetarian menus.
This was more than just a good dinner; it was exceptional. The rumors I had been hearing about the culinary prowess at Hallmann & Klee were confirmed, this is comfort fine dining at its best without any smoke and mirros. What impressed us most was that both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian menus were equally remarkable. There was no crossover between the two, ensuring that meat eaters will inevitably envy their dining partners’ experience as they watch them savor perfect Pici noodles and fragrant Kohlrabi carpaccios. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that, right now, Hallmann & Klee offers one of the city's finest vegetarian menus.
Without a doubt, Hallmann & Klee has solidified its position in the scene. The team aroound Sarah Hallmann projects a serene confidence and culinary brilliance, which is evident in every aspect of the dining experience. The remarkable part about this restaurant, and what many don't know, is that while Sarah Hallmann herself has dedicated herself to running the floor of the restaurant, she really also is the definfing brain behind the whole food menu. A unique setup, and I'm sure that the experiences and impressions she collects while serving the food are funneled right back into the menu creation.
It's a testament to Sarah Hallmann's enduring commitment to excellence, as her sanctuary of great food culture continues to enthrall patrons, old and new.