Discovering Hidden Culinary Treasures
The adventurous foodie will feel right at home in Berlin. Popular city guides focus on fast-paced itineraries, often overlooking the culinary jems within the city. Berlin, in addition to its historic sites, museums, and amazing nightlife, offers an array of unique dining experiences. Here’s a small taste of some of Berlin’s hidden culinary treasures.
Supper clubs, although not unique to Berlin, embody the charm and understated coolness of the city. Hosts of supper clubs tend to be food lovers or aspiring restaurateurs who invite strangers into their homes for intimate meals. Reservations are usually made online through a blog, maintaining the shroud of secrecy surrounding most clubs. Patronizing a small restaurant in someone’s home is not exactly legal, but if you are willing to take the risk, you will be handsomely rewarded.
I discovered the Loteria Supper Club through word of mouth. Their fixed menu incorporates regional ingredients common in Northern Mexico and Southern California cuisine, marrying them with local fresh ingredients. The highlight of the meal for me was the flourless chili chocolate cake which the chef made from scratch. The only thing more impressive than the food was the dinner conversation. My fellow guests hailed from all over the globe. Some were tourists, some Berlin locals, and others internationals who had recently made Berlin their home. We drank wine late into the evening all in the comfort of someone’s dining room. It was like our own private dinner party, and we didn’t even have to do the dishes. If planning a trip to Berlin, simply google “Berlin Supper Clubs” to see what clubs are meeting during your stay.
Unsicht Bar is known around town as the dark restaurant. As the nickname would suggest, it serves 3-4 course meals in complete darkness, simulating what it feels like to be blind. Not being able to use your vision gives the opportunity for your other senses to take over while eating, navigating your table, and interacting with other guests.
The evening begins in a lit area where you receive an introduction to the restaurant and the concept. Your blind or visually impaired waiter then leads you into the pitch-black dining area and guides you to your seat. Try not to freak out, and get comfortable, because you will be in total darkness for about two and a half hours. I found it helpful to take a few deep breaths while letting my fingers wander around the table, just to get my bearings. You will be surprised how well you adjust to the darkness, if it doesn’t go so well, you can always punk out and call for the waiter, who will lead you back out into the lit area. If you can go with a large group, I really suggest it. The people at my table all picked different menus and even attempted passing dishes around to sample. Everything you eat is a mystery, unless you have some sort of ninja palate, you won’t find out the exact contents of your dinner until the end of the evening. Trust me, you will be talking about this meal for weeks.
Reservations for Unsicht Bar are recommended. They have restaurants in Cologne, Hamburg, and Berlin.
Temporary restaurants, also known as pop-up restaurants, make for a truly one of a kind experience. Pret A Diner first landed in Berlin for 43 days during the cold and dreary winter of 2011. After a successful run and rave reviews, it emerged again right in time for fashion week, hosting the most successful and stylish of Berlin. Guests enjoyed Michelin star cuisine along the Spree River in an outdoor restaurant under the summer sky.
The Pret A Diner concept is the invention of Kofler & Company, one of Germany’s exclusive gourmet caterers. They have revolutionized the restaurant business by bringing up-and-coming chefs to a wider audience. Although the food plays a vital role in this culinary discovery, award-winning Klaus Peter Kofler knows that looks matter; he commissioned interior decorators, graffiti and art installations just for this occasion. Pret A Diner was also a great location this summer just to grab a drink, relaxing on the man-made beach in front of a firepit.
From the amazing international waitstaff to the food and well-designed décor, Pret A Diner simulated all the senses creating an atmosphere that made each guest feel like an A-lister.
Rumor has it that the next stop for the concept restaurant is Frankfurt, Germany where reservations are only available by invitation. Try to keep up with their culinary wanderings at the Pret a Diner website to find where they will “pop-next”