Monday, March 4, 2019

Berlin Restos 2018: Horvath, Doyum, Ottenthal, Cookies and Cream, Ernst.


Berlin is well represented with Turkish and Syrian restos. Doyum is Syrian.

Fresh baked pita.

Traditional pickles.

Tripe soup.

 Pigs foot soup.

 Eggplant salad.

Ezme, a salad/puree of very finely chopped walnuts, tomatoes, onions, parsley and red pepper puree.

Kusbasi pide, Syrian/Turkish version of pizza, this with strips of lamb with onions, green and red peppers.


In 2018, Horvath earned Michelin 2** and 17 points on Gault-Millaut, both very high laudable ratings. Despite the very high ratings, Horvath is not at all a pretentious resto. The service is very friendly and attentive. This is wonderful, refined Austrian cuisine created by chef Sebastian Franck. 

A 4 hour reduction of root vegetables, an intensely flavoured broth and a perfect beginning.

Breads, left to right, black pudding muffins with sour cream and crushed cherry pit for the four foundation; Caraway seed bread; salted and fried potato yeast bread. Top right is butter. Bottom right is brown butter mashed potato topped with crumbled dried potato skin.

"Rice and meat": steamed rice, caulifower flavoured vinaigrette and chicken stock emulsion.

Aged and young celery root, steamed and roasted with foamy chicken bouillon. Twelve month aged celery root was hand grated on the dish.

The picture above is the 12 month aged celery root which was wrapped in bread as it aged. It was grated on the dish above.

Steamed semolina dumpling with mountain cheese. Roasted celery seeds grated on top. The accompaniment in the spoon is a smoothie of parsley, peas, watercress, apple and zucchini, topped with marinated strawberries in camelina oil.

Grilled sturgeon cooked rare, with onion flavoured Serbian butter, bell pepper, vinaigrette paprika sauce and parsley root. The white cubes are grilled beef marrow.

Soup-meat: cooked chicken skin, calve's foot and ham, onion confit, lovage and apple vinegar, all flavoured with a hint of anise, juniper and cloves. On the bone is a calve's skin chip with roasted lovage. This was a great dish!

"Butter bread": steamed malt bread made with malt, chocolate and black beer, topped with whitefish caviar and cold potato cream.

Veg casserole: steamed zucchini, grilled asparagus, abalone mushrooms, Chinese cabbage (leaf and stem), surrounded by lemon bechamel sauce and topped with mountain cheese chip, celery seeds and roasted mustard seeds. 

Compote of cucumber, celery, lemon, duck fat, dill and almond-anchovy cream.

A perfectly cooked haunch of female sucking mangalitsa pig covered by its sublime fat with lemon caraway emulsion, desiccated root veg, flavoured with white garlic, smoked onion and vinegar.

First dessert: eggplant steamed with mint syrop with parsley sorbet.

Roasted vegetable cream with apricot seed ice cream and all dusted with roasted flour.

Our final "petit four" was a pigs blood filled gelatin cube.


Ottenthal serves a refined version of Austrian bistro style cuisine. Ottenthal is a Michelin Bib Gourmand resto.

Breads with cottage cheese-potato puree with chives.

Ottenthal wild garlic soup with house made little chou paste patties.

The season's white asparagus accompanied by hollandaise sauce.

Original Ottenthal's farmer's smoked ham with gerkins pickled with mustard seeds and freshly grated horse radish.

Fresh seasonal morels in a cream sauce with house made noodles.

Ottenthal's renown organically raised veal wiener schnitzel. The breading was paper thin and crispy.

Original Austrian apple strudel with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream.

Ottenthaler sachertorte with whipped cream.

Cookies and Cream

Cookies and cream is the first vegetarian resto to be awarded a Michelin star.

Essence and ravioli of mushrooms. A beautiful, complex intense reduction.

Vegetarian caviar with avocado, hazelnuts and mayo.

Quail egg in brioche with port wine shallots, potato foam and truffle jus.

Leeks with black sesame and horseradish chips.

Marinated chicory with dill weed and seed and almonds.

Parmesan dumplings with perigourd truffle stock, spinach, baby pine cones and chives.

White asparagus and wild garlic, miso, pearl barley and onion. My favourite dish of the evening.

Corn porridge with coriander, spring onions, pepper and chili.

Baked eggplant with corn creme, green beans, peanuts and papadam. The only disappointing (banal) dish of the evening.

Blueberries with celery, blueberry sorbet, creme, celery root chip.

Chocolate ice cream and mezcal, bisquit, kumquat and cereal.


Ernst is a 12 seat restaurant that books well in advance. It is one of the most difficult restos in Berlin to score a reservation. The counter style (a style of counter reminiscent of the great sushi restos of Japan), is a front and centre experience with the chefs. 

There is no sign at the street front of the resto, just a big window, a recessed very heavy polished aluminum door and a doorbell, which one must ring to gain admission. This resto may be one of Europe's most produce/farmer focused restaurants. All of the food prepared By chef Dylan Watson-Brawn and his associate chefs, is directly sourced from the farmer/producers. 

Dylan Watson-Brawn is a remarkably focused 25 year old Canadian from Vancouver that went to Japan in his late mid teens and somehow wound up working in the fabulous restaurant Ryugin, a Michelin 3*** establishment in Tokyo, (featured in one of my earlier Japan blogs). This achievement was indeed remarkable as he was the first non-Japanese hired in tokyo to work in a 3*** establishment. Later internships were at Noma in Copenhagen and 11 Madison Park in NY.  His experience in Japan strongly influenced chef Watson-Brawn"s sourcing, cooking and presentation. For example, chef Watson-Brawn uses Ikejime fish killing methodology, in which a long needle through the fin is stuck in the brain, an immediate stress-free death that make the fish storable in better condition where the flesh can mature and evolve so the meat is more intensely flavoured.

The knowledge and attentiveness of the sommelier/partner Christoph Geyler in wine pairings, enhanced the experience with each dish. Our casual kitchen chatter further enhanced my enjoyment. Wines selected were very progressively made biodynamic wines from small winemakers 
Almost everything is prepared à la minute to present every product at its very best.  Veggies are not prepped before 5pm . Products are purchased based on availability of the very best quality and freshness available that morning. The chefs try to connect patrons to the farms and their environment through the menu served on that day, based on the season. This is true farm to table cuisine.

This night, 35 courses were leisurely served over roughly 3 hours.

Fresh cheese made from spring milk served with whey, chervil and chervil shoots. 

Kohlrabi slice, brined for half and hour in lemon verbena tea and topped with young pine cones.

Sliced Potato tart shell (made from linda potatoes) and spuma made with 20 month old deich cheese. Quite subtle.
First radish of the season, seasoned with a little bit of salt topped with acacia flowers picked today, with beurre montee and kombu dashi. 
Green onions grilled and wrapped and allowed to steap in its own heat with miso mayo. Miso is house made and begun a year ago from koji. 

Brioche with farm sourced, house made virgin butter with dried and preserved marigold from last year. Great texture. The wonderful butter had a hint of grassy flavour. 

Veal tartar lightly salted with lemon zest and Roman sorrel. 

Very small baby fennel ( all parts were used) with sunflower oil and house made sour cream. 

Asparagus from farm that has kept same plants for 25 years (as opposed to 5-10 typically). Grows by a river. Not peeled and seasoned with special butter from Faviken resto, Sweden. Dressed with asparagus vinegar gel and grilled camomile. 

All the chefs working together, a tight knit team the whole night.

Chawan mushi with wasabi stems and ponzu.

Spring leek lightly grilled and salted and topped with dried turbot roe. 

Wild hop shoots picked this morning, lightly grilled and seasoned with goats butter. 

Rhubarb sliced very thin and dried, with salt and sugar cured belly speck mangalitsa pork from special farmer in Austria. 

Goats cheese with sunflower oil that had been slightly smoked with hay and seasoned with a little bit of salt. 

Charcuterie mangalitsa (pork from Austrain farmer) known for high fat content (up to 65 %), boiled potato, grains and bread. 

Belly speck,  the best ( eaten before photo!!).
Shoulder speck .

Loin speck (bottom).

Tasting of flat fish: fluke cured 30 min with kombu and wasabi root liquid; flounder topped with sashimi shoyu (Bottom). 

Medium sized asparagus seasoned with dashi for 2 minutes with fresh asparagus juice flavoured with fresh bay leaf oil all poached for about 2 minutes. Crunchy texture. 

Asparagus tip coated with spelt flour batter, fried in expeller pressed canola oil with salt and lemon.

Sicilian onions slightly caramelized, Sicilian olive oil buffalo milk, crushed Sicilian almonds and pine shoots. 

Ricotta made in house surrounded by whey and blood orange oil from Sicily.

Steamed linda potatoes with smoked butter, mustard juice and dill tops. Cooked to a slightly crunchy texture. 

Turbot grilled over Birch charcoal sourced from northern Sweden. Butter and dashi kombu seaweed. Cooked close to rare but perfect. Perfection in texture. 

Eggplant (Sicilian) with wasabi

Turbot grilled over birch charcoal from northern Sweden with Kombu butter, rhubarb jus, smoked butter and salt. Extraordinary texture; so perfectly cooked. 

Soup made from roasted and blanched turbot bones  and house made miso. 

Large asparagus grilled with brown butter with highly reduced cream sauce on side. Great crunchy texture.

3 month old milk fed veal, dry aged on a rack for a week then off the rack about a week and finished with summer Truffle. 

Fresh and seasonal salad greens dressed with veal fat and salt. 

Granite made from fresh rhubarb and sorrel.

Frozen salted whipped buffalo milk jelly topped with fresh and dry powdered elderflower. Quite savory. 

This morning's rhubarb, poached with rhubarb peel and syrup, lightly dried left over brioche toasted with brown butter and sugar, 70% cream and rhubarb flour oil. 

Sicilian farmer sourced medlar fruit which was hanging over grill for about 4 hours, accompanied by cream with a touch of whisky. As you can see, couldn't wait before taking photo.

Tea is served: Roasted raspberry from last year and roasted buckwheat tea.

Ice cream toasted buckwheat with toasted and brined buckwheat powder on top. 

Cheesecake of green strawberry from last season preserved with Lemon verbena leaf crystallized in sugar; "surprise" caramel (squares). 

Small tartlet “cheesecake” just out of oven. 

What’s so remarkable about this chef is that he knows how to bring out the essence of perfection for each ingredient. A remarkable skill!!

If you are going to Berlin there are a few very good restos but one resto experience you must not miss is Ernst, perhaps one of the great resto experiences in the world.