You know that you are in for a ride when the restaurant website tells you to forget everything that you have previously tasted, seen, smelt, felt and appreciated. Einsunternull does just that.
The Berlin dining scene may be dominated by Tim Raue, the German chef who features in the third Netflix season of Chef’s Table but that should not deter you from exploring what is on offer in this vibrant city with a increasingly interesting dining scene.
There are many restaurants worth trying and not necessarily easy to make a choice. I decided to try the intriguing restaurant which was recently awarded a Michelin star despite the fact that the owner and chef ran away from a two Michelin star because they wanted to have the freedom not to use luxury ingredients.
The restaurant named Einsunternull (or one floor below in English) is called like this because its dining room (for the evenings) is housed in the cellar. Lunch is however served upstairs in a space next to the open kitchen which is enclosed in a sliding glass door.
The creation of Ivo Ebert who had started Berlin fine dining institution Reinstoff (2 stars) and the chef Andreas Rieger wanted to try something new focusing more on vegetables which they preserve in the wine cellar and then use during the austere winter seasons.
The restaurant promises a ‘voyage of discovery’ and for some this might be a bit of a voyage in the dark. It is a restaurant that you either love or hate. At least that seems to be the verdict on review sites. Friends had visited before and were not entirely convinced but on the basis of what I was served for lunch, I was intrigued and found the menu extremely interesting.
The first course was chicory, german coffee made from chicory root that is braised in the oven then dried until it becomes a powder served with quince and mayonnaise. A bold dish but one which worked and as a ‘salad’ was the perfect start to the meal.
The second course was called mushroom and bread. It was a beautifully presented carpaccio of mushrooms with wild garlic blossoms and rock salt on top of a bread sauce combined with lindseed oil.
Char (a fish that comes from a lake close to Berlin) was served with a leek ash, rape seed oil and carrots. The presentation was clean and austere but the flavours combined well together.
The next course was sparerib of beef with potatoes cooked in smoked butter and served with a camomile sour cream. The beef was perfectly cooked and the potatoes were delightfully presented on the side of the dish.
The star of the show was in my opinion the dessert. Chef Andreas Reiger served a three-day-cooked beetroot as a granita and combined it with rose jelly, aronia berries and a caramel. The combinations of textures and flavours was excellent, the beetroot sweet, the rose jelly combining well with the granita and the berries giving a plumy flavour on the side.
einsunternull is a reminder of what is essential. It shows what can be done with humble ingredients, with creativity and with pushing the boundaries. Of the five dishes served, the last one was memorable and will linger in my memory for a long time. That is already a great achievement.
This restaurant is a work in progress, after all it only opened in 2015 but the chef is already giving it a clear vision and identity. Take note of the name, you will be hearing more about the restaurant and chef
in the years to come.
Hannoversche Straße 1, 10115 Berlin: T +49 (0)30 27 57 78 10
Lunch: From EUR 29 for three course menu to EUR 45 for five course menu
Dinner: From EUR 77 for six course menu to EUR 117 for 10 course menu.