Mystery Dining at Maremoto

My sister wanted to go along to Maremoto. Yet another one of those interesting places that offer interesting twists using modern cooking techniques made popular by the likes of El Bulli and The Fat Duck. When we tried to book, we found out that the restaurant was actually shut for the winter period (or at least for a short period) although offered an alternative – one where you could do private dinging with the chefs. My sister had organised all of this, and when we went to dinner, I hadn’t realised that what this actually meant was a visit to someone’s apartment where they chefs were preparing the dinner for a very small number of us (four people to be precise).

We found out later that the apartment was actually the friend of one of the chefs, and they had kindly lent it out. I’m not actually going to tell you where it was, although it’s not near to where their current restaurant was. I made that mistake, and we ended up catching a taxi to the restaurant after I didn’t realise that we were eating in a different place.

When we finally arrived at the apartment, the two chefs greeted us. The ratio of chef to diners being 1:2, and we met another couple who’d done this private dining extravaganza before.

Our first course, was something to behold. A stunning journey through tomatoes done many different ways. So many ways that even looking at the picture doesn’t really help me remember. We had a “tomato ravioli” stuffed with ricotta cheese, three different types of tomato seeds accompanied by three different types of salt (volcanic, pink sea salt, and British maldon). There was a “crisp” tomato, and then some sweet tomatoes served with sugar spiral. Almost overwhelming. Almost.

Our next dish would be a freshly cold smoked oyster. Done at the table, the whole experience was simply stunning. Here’s the picture absorbing all the smoke.

And then the unraveling of the oyster. As much as I don’t normally like oysters, this one went down a treat.

Next up was a piece of fish, local to the region and I don’t really remember what it was. Accompanying it was an olive oil ice cream (it’s in the spoon) though I’m not really sure it worked.

It also came with some other stuff that my memory is failing to bring to light. The fish was nicely cooked, firm and flaked well. another pretty good dish executed nicely, though not quite perfect.

Next up, we had a piece of steak. Cooked really rare, accompanied by micro greens, and a miso sauce/soup gel on two different spoons. The beef here literally melted in the mouth, had deep flavours indicating a good hanging, and hopefully a happy cow.

The gel is definitely one of the “modern cooking” techniques chefs love to draw from, and given the beef, miso proved a good choice to add the salty dimension through this unusual vehicle.

Next up, desserts. A tart lime ice cream block, accompanied by a bitter dark chocolate powder and a caramel tuile. A good combination and a good dish on our way to finishing our meal.

We finished with this final dish. We were asked whether or not we wanted it full impact or not, and not really knowing any better went for the full one. Why bother going somewhere and not trying the full experience. My mistake. What arrived looked innocent enough. A raspberry cream, topped with another scoop of ice cream, and what looked like a pepper tuile. What I didn’t realise until it was far too late were the really fresh sichuan peppers that laid around the plate. Sichuan provides an interesting numbing effect to the palate however these were really fresh ones, and, as a result, also have a huge kick to them. Whilst I enjoyed this dish, I definitely struggled as the heat and numbing effect from the fresh peppercorns held my mouth hostage for a while.

The chef, after liberally pouring much wine throughout the meal, and continuously topping up the glasses, then decided to conclude the meal with a moutai. I declined at first because my head was starting to spin, and this thing definitely put me over the edge of a place I really shouldn’t have been. Not that anything bad happened. It just made me extra sleepy on the way home.

I did manage the stairs.

And could still hold the camera still to take this photo. The evening went down really well and I’d love to go back and enjoy more of it.

Name: Maremoto
Found at: This experience, not to be disclosed.

Brunching at Schneeweiss

Schneeweiss, literally translated as ‘Snow White’ sits in the heart of Friedrichshain, the more edgy and upcoming part of Berlin. Situated in a neighbourhood with plenty of other cafes and interesting looking bars, it hints at the resentful gentrification settling upon Berlin. It’s clean, white interiors (hence it’s name) provide a stark contrast to those buildings around them.

We went along for their Sunday brunch, where they have a buffet offering pretty much everything on their normal menu, that focuses on atypical Austrian cuisine, although without the wiener schnitzel. Drinks are excluded from the menu, although they offer you a menu so that you can pick.

The restaurant seats large groups, and until I went to the restroom, didn’t really how extensive the entire place would be. I could only imagine how this place might evolve on a late Friday and Saturday night, when the bar area opens up and the back room fills up. This morning probably represented a much more sedate and the average Berlin crowd on a weekend – young hipsters and groups of people catching up. Several people bringing dogs into the restaurant as well (not just the small ones).

Although doing several different types of coffee, the nearest to a reasonable ratio of milk and coffee they offered was the cappuccino. I have learned hard the lesson about ordering a latte macchiato, the drink where Germans let milk dominate the coffee.

They had plenty of stuff on offer on the buffet – many types of salads (half of which contained meat), cold meats and cheese and different types of breads. They even had a whole pretzel stand (the large variety) that seemed popular with the crowd.

Further down stood plenty of micro salads including the many traditional German ones (potato! beetroot!) and good portions that let you try them all without getting too stuffed.

On another table opposite the bar, they offered the hot stuff that included a number of dumplings, some hot stews and some roast pork. I tried a small bowl just to sample them all but was filling up fast.

Germans like their desserts, particularly their “kuchen” (cake) and Schneeweiss offered many including several sweet slices, and other lovely tasting morsels like a creme brulee.

It’s hard not to enjoy the vibe of a restaurant like this. One that is obviously popular with locals (I only heard German speaking tongue). One where you can enjoy the local delights, and take your time doing so.

Name: Schneeweiß
Found at: Simplonstraße 16, 10245 Berlin, Germany

Good Eating at Horvath

Horvath owns two restaurants in Berlin, one of which we’d already eaten at for a team outing. This one, more distinguished restaurant is located in the heart of Kreuzberg, by a canal and offers the tastebuds interesting takes on German cuisine.

You have the option of ordering a la carte, or with a variety of set menus. I felt like we could have a three course meal when we went, just not the five or seven course ones also on offer. Frankly I feel like I’ve been eating too much since arriving in Berlin, and with so much variety, there’s always something new to discover.

Their bread offering soon arrived after the offer of an aperitif. LIke many restaurants trying to impress (which they most certainly did!), we had three breads on offer – a black pudding bread (the round one), a pumpkin seed bread, and a hearty sourdough, all perfectly warm and well made.

Two types of spreads accompanied the bread, a plain butter (but pretty good butter with flavour for Germany) and, another mayonnaise concoction, though this time topped with toasted pumpkin seed oil. Yum.

To our surprise, an amuse bouche arrived after our hearty bread, turning the intended three course into a much more filling meal than intended. It wasn’t simply just a bite either, this being a reasonable sized plate, smeared with mashed turnip, earthy mushrooms and brought to life with pickled carrots.

My sister had a vegetarian starter, not that interested in the terraine. I have no idea how it was.

I opted for the “old vienna style beef jelly” that had the perfect combination of textures (soft and crunchy contrasts) with refreshing slices of turnip, sourness of pickled onions and a fresh zing of some sort of vinegar dressing.

We both then went for the “baked spring chicken with a potato cucumber salad”. What arrived was the juiciest, tenderest chicken that seemed like it had been fried with an unbelievably crisp crumb. I guess it was their take on “wienerschnitzel” and I can’t rave about how good it tasted. Each small slice burst with flavour – this was once a happy chicken, or one that grazed on a flavoursome herb diet. As you can see, everything was thought out with the muslin cloth wrapped lemon preventing pips from entering the food.

Like most recipes, the potato salad also burst with flavour – that perfect combination of soft, yet textured potatoes in a delicious dressing.

We finished our course with the apple fritter – and served with a sour cream ice cream provided a delightful finish – the sourness helping bring out the sweetness in the apple. A mound of caramel sat in the middle of the plate, providing yet another type of sweetness that was probably not really needed considering the whole plate had been dusted with icing sugar.

Funnily enough, our meal still wasn’t finished when they brought the bill also bringing along a pumpkinseed truffle. The truffle had a really interesting taste, the oil slightly taking out the richness, though adding another dimension to the dish, almost lengthening the flavours on the tongue.

The restaurant had some really great food and service, and it was such a shame that we couldn’t indulge just that little more. You’ll definitely pay a lot more for the meal compared to other places in Berlin, but the equivalent of this sort of food in Berlin, you’d be paying even more in places outside of Berlin.

Name: Horvath
Found at: Paul-Lincke-Ufer 44A, 10999 Berlin, Germany


One of the many restaurants, on my ever-growing list of places to eat in Berlin was Neu. Selected by Michelin for their Bib Gourmand award, meaning a place with good value, I finally got to try it one evening I was in Berlin. My first attempt failed by attempting to go eat there on an evening they were shut, we walked down through the courtyard, fingers crossed that they would be open.

Surprisingly, they weren’t particularly busy on the evening we went. Admittedly I think it was a fairly dinner by Berlin standards, around 7pm and about one third of the dining tables had been filled by the time we ate and left. Neu’s interior reminded my a lot of Alpenstueck – clean white lines and very modern furnishings. The food soon to follow would reflect that.

My dining companion was in a bit of a rush, so we skipped starters and both succumbed to the tempting steak on the menu. Although we were surprised when an amuse bouche arrived at the table. I can’t remember all the details exactly, however I believe it was a light tomato mousse, served with a crisp bread and freshly chopped tomatoes. Despite being worried about the tartness the tomatoes might have – after all, we weren’t in Italy or Spain of all places, each bite brought a bit of surprise with plenty of flavour and sweetness throughout.

I heartily approve of all of their bread selections. Served with your typical mayonnaise side dressing (people don’t seem to like butter as much here), we had two or three different fresh breads to choose from. Delicious!

Our steak finally arrived, and what a huge dish it proved to be. The steak sat atop a crunchy piece of sourdough bread, smothered with a salty goats cheese layer, topped with a lavish and generously dressed salad and a couple of poached tomatoes on the side. Although slightly fatty, my steak had been perfectly cooked to my rare request and literally melted in my mouth. Let’s just say it didn’t last long.

I really want to come back here and try all the different courses they have to offer. Although not an extensive dinner offering, everything we had they executed perfectly well. I’ll also have to come back here for the breakfast/brunches they do on the weekends.

Name: Cafe Restaurant Neu
Found at: In den Heckmannhöfen, II. Innenhof , Oranienburger Str. 32, 10117 Berlin

Hot Spot

Apparently good Chinese food is hard to find in Berlin however that doesn’t really stop me from trying to find a good place that serves it. In reading the Berlin & I book in the hotels I’ve stayed at, and some reviews on the net, I set up a dinner outing to Hot Spot. Located on the west side of Germany, we took the U-Bahn all the way over to a new district, and emerged into a completely different looking part of Berlin. Streets seemed wider, and definitely much more gentrified than the area where our work is just now.

Hot Spot is located close to the Adenauerplatz U-Bahn stop, just off a side street from the main street, Kurfürstendamm. There were a few things different about this particular Chinese restaurant. Firstly, they focused not just on classical Chinese (typically Cantonese food), including a number of Hunanese and Szechuan cuisine that tend to be spicier. It’s other interesting difference was a huge wine list, the reflection of the owner’s passion for wines. They had plenty to choose from, many nice organic ones, and many demonstrating the local German varieties. Great to see!

We ordered a small set of starters to share, a numer of main dishes and vegetables that our waitress told us to stop because there may have been too much food. Here’s what we ordered:

Tea Smoked Duck – Wonderfully scented and with flesh that literally fell of the bone. This was highly recommended by some of the blogs I’d read before and definitely didn’t disappoint.

Aubergine – Served with a lovely sauce, everyone marvelled at the succulent flesh extremely tender and addictively good.

Green beans – This is your fairly standard green beans, though extremely well cooked. Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy and slightly charred with the intensity from the wok grill.

Chilli chicken – This was supposed to have three chillis on the menu, and whilst it had some kick, wasn’t the palate numbing, mouth watering variety I had been hoping for. Definitely toned done for German tastes.

Chilli duck – This didn’t fare any better than the chicken in terms of heat levels, though both were still flavoursome dishes.

The extensive menu – Impressive wine list contained in the back.

The service was actually pretty good for a Chinese restaurant although I’m not sure if that’s just because it reflects your average Berlin service. We managed to get by okay considering the waitresses didn’t really speak English very well as we inflicted our slow, and no doubt mangled German on them.

Name: Restaurant HotSpot
Found at: Eisenzahnstraße 66, 10709 Berlin, Germany

Happy Burgers at Yellow Sunshine

We’ve eaten at Yellow Sunshine a few times since being in Berlin. Even though it’s vegetarian and vegan food, it is still fast food, so I wouldn’t necessarily think of it being very good for you. During the week, the evenings have been fairly busy and I can imagine a much longer stream of people here on weekends, particularly when it hits the drinking hours.

They have a great selection of burgers, and even though it says chicken or some meat reference on the menu, it is all mock meat. And tasty.

Things are ordered at the counter and cooked fresh, including the chips that could probably be a little bit crisp but still go down well with the whole burger.

Expect to pay at around €10 for a burger, fries and a drink of some sort. Not that cheap for fast food, but it’s really great fast food that’s happy. I’ve never tried them but they also do “currywurst”, and a number of other snacks though I suspect many other are simply deep fried.

Name: Yellow Sunshine
Found at: Wienerstrasse 19, Berlin-Kreuzberg, 10999, Germany

Dada Falafel

I think I stumbled across this place on the Lonely Planet website, looking for other vegetarian friendly places in Berlin. It’s really not that hard. However on one particularly very cold evening, I ended up at this place with another vegetarian workmate.

The shop is actually split into two sections – one side, you order the food and can choose take out or eat in. The other side opens up to a very large, bright space that looks more like an art gallery than any other restaurant. You order drinks from the bar (I highly recommend the classic mint tea) and they have a number of other desserts and small bites.

The whole process seemed a little unclear to us. After finding out whether or not you order from the side with tables and seats (you don’t), we were then unsure of whether or not they would bring the food when ready (they did in our case), though you still order drinks from the bar. Fortunately the food was really worth the wait and the strange confusion. My workmate ordered for both of us, getting the falafel plate with the spicy sauce that we really could have done with more of. Given Germany’s general aversion to anything with spice, this sauce finally had some kick and something I really wanted more of. The plate came smeared with hummus, super fresh salad and accompanied by a couple of small pitas that let us eat the food the way that we wanted to (as a pocket sandwich, or bit by bit).

They have a nice atmosphere and the entire dinner is a pretty cheap affair. Combined with a tea, dessert (yummy baklava below!) and the plate, I think the whole affair would be around €10-€12.

I have no idea how busy it gets, but it’s also definitely worth eating on the premises, taking in the nice atmosphere.

Name: Dada Falafel
Found at: Linienstraße 132, 10115 Berlin-Mitte, Germany

Get Some White Trash Into Ya

Located just down from where our office is a place whose names just begs you to come in just to see what’s inside, White Trash Fast Food. Its a confused mix of too many cultures – Asiatic symbols and decorations adorn the outside, strange movie memorabilia line the walls and dot the roof, pinball machines dotted around and all serving American style fast food.

We came here on a Friday evening, and it’s a definitely popular spot with some locals and many visitors and expats. In fact, my improvised and small amount of German failed when I found out our waiter didn’t even understand any of it just yet! The drinks menus is pretty long, extensive and contains some pretty interestingly named drinks. Beer was definitely up to be had with the rest of the meal. Fortunately they manage to execute all the food exceptionally well. Here’s a picture of the veal ribs (yes, veal!) both tender, flavoursome and fall of the bone easy to eat. They went well with the perfectly huge onion rings covered in a perfectly light bread crumb coating and served with a light ranch sauce.

They even have bands playing and although I didn’t really get a chance to wonder the huge insides, apparently they even have a dance floor somewhere in the corridors.

Definitely a little cheesy, but at least you know what you expect when you walk in. Perfectly executed for just that, it’s not the sort of place you’d want to go eat and drink at everyday, but you can’t fault it for having lots of character.

Name: White Trash Fast Food
Found at: Schönhauser Allee 6-7, Berlin. Nearest UBahn: Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz

Jimmy Woo

Stef had another suggestion about eating out in Neukoln, yet another part of Berlin I was yet to venture to. Just a little bit south of Kreuzberg, it’s supposed to be a bit edgier, and a little bit less developed. Based on his reading, he suggested we try this place called Jimmy Woo, a Laotian restaurant.

Fortunately Stef thought to book ahead, and it proved to be a good decision with plenty of people coming and going throughout the evening, even as we departed after finishing our meal. It seemed like plenty of local people as well, so that’s always a good sign (even if they’re not exactly going to be experts on Laotian food).

Lao, being very close to Thailand shares a very similar style of cooking, so expect similar dishes though not exclusively the same Thai dishes. Our mixed appetisers make a good example with things like chicken satay, prawn balls, prawn crackers, vegetable spring rolls served with four different dipping sauces.

I ordered the Pad Lao (think of Pad Thai), so rice noodles stir fried with a number of other ingredients. They lavished mixed in some fried onions giving that perfectly crisp texture with each mouthful and I added plenty of spicy chilli flakes they had at the table. I like how I could add as much chilli as I wanted to this, rather sweet derivation. Spice doesn’t seem to sit well with the German palette, with our waitress checking to make sure our dish wasn’t too hot.

Stef reported his duck curry had plenty of kick and Alex opted for a sweet sour dish whose sourness might be the only thing capable of raising a slight sweat. Both dishes went down a treat. I would make sure on ordering to tell them to not hold back on the chilli.

The interior was pretty cosy with tables much closer together than many other Berlin restaurants I’ve eaten in. However the whole place is worth coming to just for the decorations adorning the room.

Name: Jimmy Woo
Found at: Friedelstraße 24, 12047 Berlin (nearest UBahn Schönleinstraße)