I had a fabulous week (despite the cold and lack of son) in Berlin with a few days of work and a few more days of play. Thanks to all who gave me suggestions, especially linguafood. Overall, I was quite impressed with the breadth and quality of restaurants in Berlin. Coming from NY, I am quite particular and usually disappointed when I travel. But not this time. Here are some highlights:
Cordobar: funky, friendly, original and delicious. The hostess went out of her way to make us feel at home, bringing us a delicious glass of riesling on the house to start us off. She talked us into a blood sausage pizza -- which I never would have ordered -- and it was outstanding. The wine selection is impressive and we tasted several very nice German and Austrian wines from the by-the-glass choices. All of the food was interesting and tasty and the small plates approach meant we could try a lot and order a bit at a time. They let us linger for several hours, in a good way.
La Soupe Populaire: I loved this place. The space itself is fabulous -- industrial chic meets art gallery meets foodie haven. (If you go, be warned, it is hard to find.) The chef gives new twists on German classics, but those twists are unexpected and delicious. I went twice -- once for a work meal in the fabulous chef's kitchen, where the service was outstanding. And then back again just two of us where we sat in the main restaurant. The menu is limited, but the execution is fantastic.
Pantry: not as outstanding as some of the others, but a nice change of tastes and flavors. Dark, pretty space that was relatively quiet (it was a Sunday night). Service was very nice and we had some great dishes (beef tataki, salmon tataki). I would not recommend the ramen/soup dishes which are just ok.
KatzOrange: buzzy vibe with great, young crowd and excellent cocktails. Opposite of Cordobar (small and dark) with homey, but cool design. We welcomed the multiple salad options (we'd not seen a lot of fresh veggies elsewhere). The mains are on the heavy side (mostly slow-roasted meats for 2 people) but delicious and fun. Fries are a must.
Tim Raue: WOW. This meal could not have been more impressive. We got 2 different 6-course tasting menus, but somehow did not feel stuffed. Everything is light and clean tasting and unlike almost anything I"d had before. The presentation is over the top beautiful. And, surprisingly, the service was not overly formal. Our waiter was funny and knowledgeable. A night to remember.