As far as high end Michelin starred dining goes, Berlin has its fair share of formal restaurants to choose from. But with the opening of Nobelhart & Schmutzig, Berlin is starting to embrace a more relaxed style of fine dining. Enter the young guns. Chefs, hosts and managers who have cut their teeth in formal restaurants and are now stepping out on their own and embracing seasonal modern German cuisine with a little more character. We’ve been banging on for a while about how good N&S is, and it’s unlikely to be topped anytime soon, but newcomer einsunternull is certainly giving it a go.
Host Ivo Ebert, chef Andreas Rieger and manager Benjamin Becker have come from multi-starred restaurants and so bring with them a tonne of experience. They wanted to start their own place to make their mark on the Berlin food scene, in their words they ask you to “please leave your everyday routine at the cloakroom. Today we wish to help you rediscover taste sensations that have been suppressed. Clearly, sensitively and with no unnecessary frills”. And so on a spring day in Berlin, we hung up our coats and prepared to release our suppressed taste sensations.
The restaurant offers a long set dinner menu of 7-10 courses served in the basement (einsunternull translates to ‘one below zero’) dining space. Lunch is a shorter menu and served in the ground floor dining space overlooked by the elevated kitchen.
They take wine pretty seriously at einsunternull and the trend of natural wines and in particular ‘orange wines’ have not escaped them. These are white wines which have had some skin contact during the winemaking process and tend to be made more naturally. The skin contact gives them an orange tint, hence the name. We’re big fans of these wines, which make for a more funky glass of wine than typical old world wines. And so for lunch we had an ‘orange’ Pinot Gris from Italy along with some soft delicious bread.
The menu is an either/or affair, so with two of us we just ordered the entire menu.
Chestnut mushrooms with hazelnut sauce - Chestnut mushrooms have never tasted this good. Maybe we’ve never had them this fresh before, but they were a lot more fragrant than we’re used to. Matched with a lively hazelnut sauce, perfect start!
Sour kohlrabi with pear and hemp emulsion - This is cured kohlrabi with a bitter sauce and sweet pear skin - very light but balanced and with a great sweet and sour flavour (a little like sauerkraut).
Char, ash and rape oil - A perfectly cooked piece of char topped with leek ash and moss, served with a rapeseed oil and carrot emulsion. The fish was delicious - there was nothing shy about the flavour. The ash is a bit gritty (in a good way) balanced with a super sweet sauce. The sauce matched the fish, but could equally have sat well beside some ice cream for dessert.
Spareribs of beef and celery root - The photo pretty much says it all. Perfectly fatty beef spare rib matched with a punchy bitter celeriac jus. On the side was some lovely smokey fermented celeriac.
Milk, whey, poppy seeds, and dandelion flowers - Delicious desssert with dandelion, milk whey cracker and cream, poppy seed ice cream; perfect for a light lunch.
Black salsify, yoghurt and woodruff - Yoghurt powder and meringue, salsify sorbet and burnt chips. Very sweet savoury dessert with strong salsify flavour.
In summary the flavours are well-defined, intriguing, and mostly tasty. Were there flavours delivered clearly, sensitively with no unnecessary thrills? Yes. A really nice lunch with great hosts. We’ll be back for dinner and look forward to seeing how the restaurant progresses over the next year!
Visit einsunternull in our Berlin guide
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