As Germany continues to solidify its food culture on the world stage its capital, Berlin, is an island of ambition attracting young chefs and entrepreneurs from all over the world with diverse neighbourhood potential, appealing rents and an unending sense of possibility. It means Berlin’s bistronomy and fine dining culture is more diverse than ever, and it’s the international influence in some of the city’s most trailblazing kitchens that’s making waves from the inside out.
Photo Freunde von Freunden
Rainbow trout in Thai dressing and wild boar pad ped – head chef, Dalad Kambhu, is revolutionising Thai cuisine at the Michelin-starred Kin Dee in Berlin-Schöneberg. Using an armoury of traditional Thai recipes as her foundation, Bangkok-born Kambhu creates a unique menu of seasonal, regional products mixed with original Thai flavours. “We asked ourselves what the essence of Thai cuisine truly is. Is it the dish itself, or the way in which Thais prepare the dish?” Kambhu explains, pointing out that “traditional Thai chefs wouldn’t question incorporating local ingredients because quality and freshness are so much more important than origin.”
Photo Robert Rieger
This locally minded ethos means that Kambhu and her international team of chefs from Thailand, Germany and Ghana switch out Thai products for regional ones, sourced from a close network of local suppliers. Sweet apple substitutes mango, local potato varieties are mixed in with sweet potatoes and pickled kohlrabi often takes the place of papaya. This leads to a modern interpretation of Thai cuisine that stamps its foot in local terroir and which you won’t taste anywhere else in the world.
Lützowstrasse 81, 10785 Berlin-Schöneberg
“Our team is currently from the UK, Israel, France, Germany, Guinea, Benin, Australia, Singapore, The Faroe Islands and the USA” says Samina Raza, the English co-founder of Mrs Robinson’s which is a small but perfectly formed dining haven in Berlin’s leafy, wide-avenued Prenzlauer Berg district.
Photo Justyba Vityk
Together with her partner, Ben Zviel, who worked with chef Amir Ilan, in Tel Aviv and briefly at WD-50 in New York, the pair took on the lease of a former kebab shop on the East Berlin border and opened in 2016, with “limited funds but open minds”. Since then, Mrs Robinson’s has become the bold and unconventional darling of Berlin fine dining thanks, in part, to a kitchen which employs milimetrically perfect usage of umami, acidity and piquant spices on local products, evident in dishes such as grilled Tiergarten crayfish, Shio Koji brown butter & burnt Sicillian lemon.
Having such an internationally-minded team has aided this success: “It’s our open mindedness and sense of not needing to conform to any specific cuisine which gives us the freedom to approach local ingredients from new perspectives” Samina agrees.
Pappelallee 29, 10437 Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg
Recently awarded 15 Gault Millau points and one of only six restaurants in Berlin to achieve Wine Spectator’s 2019 ‘Award of Excellence’, Cell Restaurant in Charlottenburg has quickly made waves across the city with its sleek, contemporary interpretation of French fine dining.
Photo Peter Fehrentz
Australian-born executive chef, Liam Valentine Faggotter, learned his craft at highly acclaimed restaurants including London’s Hibiscus and Copenhagen’s Relae. Under his direction, the menu pivots around the seasons and classic French techniques resulting in modern dishes such as sea bass tartare, salt-baked white beetroot, Imperial caviar & gold leaf, all served in an idiosyncratic venue flushed through with unusual artworks and design quirks.
Bringing France to Berlin in 2019 is also assisted through a wine list featuring over 400 bottles, many from biodynamic and organic producers, which showcases head sommelier Pascal Kunert’s considerable expertise.
Uhlandstraße 172, 10719 Berlin-Charlottenburg
Lode & Stijn
After attending culinary school together in their native Holland, Dutch chefs Lode van Zuylen and Stijn Remi made separate pit stops working with chef Matthias Dahlgren in Stockholm and at Tartine in San Francisco before being reunited in Berlin and opening their very own restaurant together in April 2016. This worldly experience put the two in good stead for shaping the way they now source produce, preserve the seasons through ferments & pickles and work with suppliers. Lode’s sourdough bread, which signals the start of every meal at their Kreuzberg bistro, is also some of the very best baked in Berlin right now.
From the rest of the menu, diners can expect high-quality seasonal dishes such as Hibachi-grilled mackerel, cucumber and greengage, sourced exclusively from regional suppliers. And the pair’s considerable success over the past three years, will soon see them open a second location in Berlin’s Mitte district come in 2020.
Lode & Stijn
Lausitzer Str. 25, 10999 Berlin-Kreuzberg