One of our favourite maître d’s in Berlin has opened his very own restaurant. Swiss born Maxime Boillat has been a fixture of the Berlin gastronomy scene for the past 15 years since starting his career at Kempinski Hotel, then working at Zoe, The Munzsalon, Tartane and HBC.
Whenever we’ve encountered Maxime, he has always created a trendy, yet laid back scene. This is very much in evidence at his very own restaurant. A mixed, trendy, mature crowd sits on stools gathered around the small bar drinking wine, dogs at their feet, as prints of two huge cockerels frame the wall behind them.
A simple small step separates the restaurant from the bar. The décor is simple, retro fused with GDR lamps creating an intimacy, where the food and wine take centre stage. Maxim is definitely on trend, as the Berlin Gastro Scene moves towards wine bistros offering a broad selection of fines wines and smaller dishes.
Okay, so let’s talk wine. Maxim has adopted a natural wine policy. This wine is made with minimal chemicals or technological intervention in the growing of the grapes. Maxime, being a sommelier of distinction, is on hand to match the wines – which he also sells by the glass – to the food. We started with a chardonnay and grenache mix, before moving onto a full-bodied red that Maxime called Berghain, after the famous techno temple. The analogy being like Berghain, it can smell a bit funky on arrival, but once you’re in, you’re like wow! Amazing!
A simple brown paper bag filled with a selection of house-made bread and a sinfully creamy butter started the meal on the right note. For entre, we opted for fat juicy scallops steamed in their own jus with light grapefruit vinaigrette, alongside a duck roulade served with a startling fresh wild green salad.
For the main course, out came a plate of the rawest, wafer thin roast beef with truffle salsa verde and fermented mushrooms. The signature dish of the restaurant is octopus that has been boiled, smoked then fried, giving it a delicate crispy skin with a holy smoky flavor. For an extra flavor dimension, it is served with tarragon syrup with the tiniest amount of raw tartar. Finally, we sampled the Ox cheek done two ways. One piece is slow cooked for 25 hours at 68 degrees to be precise served with a red cherry reduction. On the other side of the plate is minced ox cheek, combined with lemon and topped with breadcrumbs.
So far, so full, but one thing that you cannot miss at Maxim is the cheese. Maxime has managed to convince one of the world’s finest affineurs, or cheese agers to supply the cheese. Bernard Antony, an artisan, ages cheeses into magnificent maturity in his caves, in the Alsatian town of Vieux-Ferrette. Anthony is the affineur for such Michelin three-star chefs as Alain Passard, Pierre Gagnaire, Alain Senderens and Alain Ducasse. While he was François Mitterrand’s go-to cheese guy. Maxime just happens to come from a nearby village, therefore, convincing Anthony, to become his affineur. The only other place he supplies in Berlin is the two Michelin starred Lorenz Adlon at the Kempinski’s Adlon Hotel. Nice work Maxime.
With 25 cheeses on the menu, you’re really in some kind of cheese and wine heaven. It’s also surprisingly reasonable when you’re talking the quality of the cheese. A selection of six costs 12.50 euros. Our favourite was the Epoisses from Burgundy in France, which is always on the menu.
Welcome to Maxim and Maxime, although you’ve been around for ages!