Chances are, you might have heard of Tim Raue, Berlin’s most prolific and internationally recognized chef. With his signature Asian inspired cuisine, Raue has garnered an astonishing list of achievements for his flagship restaurant “Tim Raue”; two Michelin Stars, five Gault & Millau Chef Hats, his own Netflix Chef’s Table episode and has held a consistent spot on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants for the last eight years. Add in a couple of high profile TV shows that take him around the world on a near-constant basis, one might hazard a guess that Tim Raue would be happy to kick back in the role of a celebrity chef and stick to serving proven crowd pleasers for tourists at his flagship while the cheques roll in. Guess again - this boy from Kreuzberg isn’t done yet, not even close.
With the announcement of a brand new menu in September 2023, Raue is on track to pursue quite the opposite of the easy life of luxury and lethargy. “Kolibri x Berlin” is an entirely new menu that, rather than following his Asian-inspired (!) leitmotif, instead, is an homage to German food culture and Raue’s Berlin roots.
“ I would easily go as far as saying that this is the best food I have had to date at the restaurant.
What better way to explain the new menu than through running through the dishes?
The starter is the sprats dish with cucumber and caviar that you might recognize from the old menu, the only difference however, is that within the context of this new, German menu, this dish, packed with Slavic flavor notes such as dill, sour cream and pickles, actually makes a lot of sense. Then a superbp poached Pike Perch, rubbed in Mimi Ferments Sangohashi, and served with Sauerkraut for that acid kick. Next, the Chicken Fricassee, a chicken and rice stew that’s a childhood staple for many German families, is taken to the highest levels of French comfort with black truffles and fresh peas. Digging deeper into the city, the “KaDeWe Shrimp Cocktail”, is an homage to the yearly visit the young Raue took to the food halls of the iconic, West Berlin department store, is a lovely take of the 80s classic.
“ I’ve traveled the whole world for my TV shows and one thing this has shown me is how much I appreciate my home, Berlin. 'Kolibri x Berlin' is our homage to our city.
A signature of Raue’s German repertoire at his former German restaurant projects, La Soupe Populaire in the late 2010s and Villa Kellermann in Potsdam more recently, have been Königsberger Klopse.
Note for the uninitiated; Königsberger Klopse, meatballs in a white sauce that often includes capers, is a dish divisive among Germans and (especially) Berliners dining out as no restaurant version can compare to those steaming plates enjoyed at Oma’s table.
In the new menu, Raue ops to walk along the razors’ edge, serving an ultra-refined version of this Prussian classic where the veal meatball (as in one, singular), made solely from veal head meat, is cloaked in an unreal (ethereal, even?), roasted white pepper sauce, a marvelous liquid fit for the highest echelon of sauce sorcery. You'll want time to slow so you can better savor every bite.
Trivia: The accompanying potato mash is the first EVER appearance of a potato on a Tim Raue menu. Future conversation starter sorted - you're welcome.
The main course, a Wagyu beef “Gulasch”, is a beast of a dish in three servings, packs a mighty flavor punch. First, a pillowy-soft braised beef piece, featuring a distinct crust, with red and green peppers, then, a raw serving of that same set and, finally, a fiercely intense consommé laden with spicy, Hungarian gulasch flavors.
The dessert “Kalte Liebe” with raspberries and yogurt ice cream (a riff on “Heisse Liebe”, a ice cream served with warm raspberry sauce) comes all cold at Tim Raue, ends the meal with a refreshing twist on a classic childhood touchstone.
Stepping forward while looking back
Tim Raue and his ex-wife and restaurant partner Marie-Anne Wild wouldn’t be where they are without surrounding themselves with some of the smartest in the business while constantly pushing themselves to develop and adapt. (One example was the addition of a vegan menu, famously hailed as an “impossibility” by Raue himself just years earlier.)
For this current sea change, inspiration for the “Kolibri x Berlin” German menu came to Raue when he was working with his friend, colleague, and three-Michelin-star Chef Jan Hartwig as he opened his new restaurant in Munich; “When we were discussing the menu we ended up speaking a lot about incorporating references to German culinary roots and the food culture of our childhoods. That’s where it started to dawn on me; this perspective also applied to myself and my own restaurant”.
Raue continues, “I’ve traveled the whole world for my TV shows and one thing this has shown me is how much I appreciate my home, Berlin. 'Kolibri x Berlin' is our homage to our city.” Considering what is happening in Berlin’s food scene right now, he might just have caught the perfect moment on the wave of change sweeping the city. Classical German executed very well is as hot as it gets (looking at you Trio, Eierhäuschen & Nobelhart’s casual days) and we’ll surely see more of it soon.
In these current times where fine dining restaurants are struggling to fill seats all across the city, the new menu is also a brilliant way to create an entirely new reason for previous diners to come back to Tim Raue in a new light. It seems to be working. “Already over 75% of the guests are ordering the new Berlin menu, the response has been incredible!” Raue mentioned at a recent dinner. And I get it, I would easily go as far as saying that this is the best food I have had to date at the restaurant. Yes, it’s at times still overly sweet and sometimes too chili-spicy, but that doesn’t take away from it being a massively comforting meal.
Finally, my most recent experience of 'Kolibri x Berlin' showcased something in Tim's repertoire that I’ve been secretly missing since the very first time I dined at the restaurant: true purpose. While, in previous visits, I've understood Raue’s raw passion for Asian cuisine and explosive flavors, the “WHY” of me eating a riff on Peking duck in a kitchen dominated by white, German cooks often eluded me. A German menu, showcasing Raue’s love for punchy flavors elevated on the structures of his own place and space, makes all the sense in the world - the new clarity of purpose sets the tone for a new era at the restaurant and a high bar for other contenders in the field.