eat. shop. love. nyc.

Tim Raue Berlin: almost too beautiful to eat
November 15, 2010, 7:45 am
Filed under: Drink, Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

But too delicious not to eat.

Just around the corner from Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, there is a phenomenal restaurant where you can have a painfully beautiful, truly stellar three-plus-course lunch for 38 euros. While I don’t often have the opportunity to drop mucho dinero on a single meal, we were on vacation and thought we’d treat ourselves to something nice. So instead of shopping, we decided to eat at Tim Raue. The menu changes seasonally, so you can check the latest offerings here.

The entrance to Tim Raue is via a courtyard, and once you walk into the restaurant you find yourself wondering whether you are in the right place or not because it actually looks and feels a lot like an art gallery. The reception is at a desk rather than at a stand, and I think that was the most confusing. Nevertheless, we were seated promptly, walking past the open kitchen, a grand magenta wall, and underneath a gigantic painting of trash bags and empty cardboard boxes along a tree-lined street. Artsy (not fartsy), right?

While we looked over the wine list, the wait staff brought over a few complimentary small plates to start: chili-, paprika-, and cayenne- spiced cashew nuts (maybe some allspice or nutmeg, too), butter lettuce in a white wine vinaigrette with radish, sliced radishes with sweet coriander sauce, and pickled daikon radish.

We weren’t familiar with many of the German wines on the wine list, but as we were in Germany, we wanted to try something local. We asked for a dry white with strong fruit and minerality and bright acidity. Also, not too expensive. The sommelier thought for a moment, and said he had just the bottle for us. He went to retrieve the bottle, and out came yet another complimentary dish, this time a lovely lobster consomme with sweet Chinese sausage, grape tomatoes, onion, cabbage, and star anise. I don’t care much for anise or anything with a licorice-y taste, but somehow it worked well in this soup and I found myself savoring each precious sip.

Our wine arrived as we were working on our soup, and we were presented with a chilled Dreissigacker Brechtheimer Riesling, 2008 vintage. Jochen Dreissigacker is a German wine producer who has 21 hectares of land in his Rheinhessen vineyards. To learn more about the wine, the grapes, and how it was produced, click here. If you’re satisfied with me telling you this is a damn good white, just try and keep an eye out for any wines from Dreissigacker as his wines have been making wine people talk (all good things) as of late. I understand it is difficult, but not impossible, to find outside of Germany given the low yield. We were charged 30 euros for the bottle, and it was well worth it.

We finally began moving into the courses that we actually ordered. For our first course, Sara ordereda tuna tartar with wasabi and cucumber sauce, topped with frisee and wasabi flying fish roe. I think there may have been some jalapeno in there somewhere, but I’m not sure whether it was in the tartar or in the sauce.

I opted for a heavier first course with the duck liver “peking.” I had no idea what to expect, but I thought it might be something akin to pate, which wasn’t entirely correct. The duck liver was chopped finely and served as a base for a leek and ginger mousse (also mixed with some pureed duck liver, I believe) piped in the shape of little kisses. There were two small dots of barbecue sauce, which tasted plummier than most, and was served with a side of sweet cucumber and some dark green puree I couldn’t quite figure out. Each bite was sinfully rich, and though the portion wasn’t huge, I was completely sated and didn’t need any more bites.

Sara’s second course was the beef filet with a sweet pea puree and soy brew. The sauce was sweet and fruity, like a more delicate hoisin, and again topped with frisee. They did not ask how she wanted the meat cooked, and it came out a beautiful medium rare. Check out the marbling on the meat! Drool.

I ordered the suckling pig with sichuan sauce and pointed cabbage. You can’t go wrong with succulent pork, unctuous fat, and crispy skin. This was decidedly the most delicious suckling pig I’ve ever had, though I do wish that the sichuan sauce had been spicier. The waitress actually warned me that the little orange dots of sauce were very spicy, but apparently Germans have a lesser spice tolerance than kids raised on kimchee and red chilies. The cabbage roll was great, stuffed with more cabbage and veggies like mushrooms, and also containing some pork.

We were then brought a surprise (complimentary) dessert course of a tangerine ice cream popsicle dipped in tangerine flavored white chocolate and sprinkled with freeze-dried raspberries. This was our dessert course number one.

The came the dessert from the course menu: the salted caramel ice cream with cream of coconut, grilled pineapple, pineapple foam, and a round of coconut meringue. Salty, sweet, tart, charred, creamy, crunchy, YUM.

Finally, we were treated to yet another complimentary dessert, which would make this our dessert course number three: green tea mochi filled with green tea jelly and topped with vermilion foam, raspberries, a mint leaf, and dusted with matcha green tea powder.

After polishing off our three desserts, I wandered downstairs to check out the bar and the bathrooms. The bar was dark and lovely with its dark wood, the walls of climate-controlled wine, dim track lighting, and marble counter. Do stop by and have a drink here one evening, even if you don’t decide to eat. What a great place for a date.

Back upstairs, we had the pleasure of meeting two Michelin-starred Chef Tim Raue and his dog Molly (or maybe Mary? can’t remember exactly anymore). I got a little flustered and wasn’t able to say much more than “Thank you; it was beautiful and delicious!!” But I really just wanted to rave about how amazing the whole experience was, from the artwork to the lighting to the white-gloved staff to the interplay of color and texture and taste… This was better than my gourmand lunch at Eleven Madison Park, and less expensive, too. Keep up the good work, chef!

Outside, someone had scrawled out “That sunny dome / Those caves of ice” along a wall in the alley exiting the restaurant. It felt very poignant in the moment.

And as we looked back to bid adieu to Tim Raue once more, our fabulous waitresses waved us goodbye!

Eat: Restaurant Tim Raue (Berlin, Germany – near Checkpoint Charlie).Rudi-Dutschke-Str. 26, 10969 Berlin, Germany. +49 30 2 59 3 79 30. Lunch seatings from noon to 2 pm, dinner seatings from 7 to 10 pm, Tuesday through Saturday.


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