Tag Archives: Crackers

The Scene meets Ross

If you’re on the hunt for an honest, unpretentious restaurant with superb food in the heart of Berlin – hunt no more. Restaurant Ross is located in a former stable in a cozy Mitte backyard and has impressively reminded us of the true virtues of gastronomy: taste and atmosphere.

When Crackers’ former restaurant manager Sascha and self-learned chef Uri first passed their future restaurant, they sneaked through the unlocked backdoor to take a peek. Property viewing, Berlin-style. Not a year has passed since and their gourmet horse is making way for the fast lane.

The interior feels very honest. The décor is simple, the walls are plain white. The chairs and benches are made of wood – unique works. As the heavy odor of delicious spices fills the air, you feel like you’re sitting in a small country inn right in Bavaria. No pretense. This is not a hip “in-restaurant” that’s trying to blind you with its exceptional design. No. This place is timeless.

While the rocking horse above the entrance seems to be winking at us with one eye, manager and co-owner Sascha tells us about his youth in Germany’s South and how he wanted to become an architect when he was young. In consequence, he has taken the interior design into his own hands and created a restaurant whose simplicity immediately put a spell on us.

The food? Nothing short of spectacular. Chef Uri is an autodidact. After giving up on his Punk Band, he taught himself how to cook, started working at restaurants like Cracker’s and Soho House and kept on improving – by watching YouTube tutorials of Michelin-starred chefs. He then started creating his own culinary masterpieces and we would by lying if we said we’ve devoured a menu with more love of detail recently. At just 26 years, we’re sure Uri’s future will be bright, promising and most of all – tasty.

For starters we had poached egg with fennel, puree and sardines. What sounds like a relatively simple composition at first turned out to be a moderate stroke of genius. The egg and the puree were extremely rich in taste and perfectly rounded off by the delicious sauces. With every bite a subtle shudder of delight tingled down our necks. The main course took it further: moist and tender suckling pig, complimented by celery salad, apple and red cabbage. Again: the ingredients sound simple, but the result was a real mind blower. Just like the restaurant’s overall feel, the food is honest, appealing and wants to make you stay for hours, if not days.

As far as we’re concerned, we could eat through the menu all day every day. Definitely worth a visit! Or two! Or three! Or ten!

Insiders – Stephan Hentschel

Stephan Hentschel is one of the most celebrated chefs in Berlin right now. He’s best known for his role as kitchen chef in the vegetarian restaurant Cookies Cream (which scored a very decent 14 points in the Gault Millau) , not-so vegetarian Chipps at Gendarmenmarkt and newly opened Crackers on Friedrichstraße. He’s also co-owner of the Volta gastro-pub, famous for their delicious burgers. We immediately liked him.

Q: Hey Stephan. Us at Berlinagenten, we love meat. Nice and tender, tasty and juicy. How come you’re best known for cooking vegetarian dishes?

A: That actually wasn’t up to me. I’m not even a vegetarian. It’s the Cookie Cream’s concept to only serve tasty, vegetarian dishes and I’ve been up for the challenge for the past 7 years. In most restaurants you’ll get your standard rice or pasta dish when you’re inclined to avoid meat, but we’re trying to create vegetarian meals that are somewhat out of the ordinary. If you’re a meatlover, though, swing by at Chipps, Volta or our newly opened restaurant Crackers and you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Q: What’s new about the Crackers?

A: The Crackers is located right below the Cookies Cream, so obviously we went for a different concept there. While the Cookies Cream is about fine dining, the Crackers provides a cozy, leaned back living room atmosphere, where you can just hang out with friends, have some food and enjoy a few drinks while you’re at it. It’s basically just one really spacey room that you enter through the kitchen, a mix between bar, lounge and restaurant. There’s DJ nights on tuesday, thursday and friday nights in the same halls that were once home to the Cookies… it’s not as dead as you might think.

Q: Did you always dream of becoming a chef?

A: I didn’t even know I wanted to cook in the first place! I originally started working on a construction site, but reality hit me pretty soon. Getting up early, all the while in the cold outside and just a few poorly made sandwiches for the day weren’t really my thing. At all. After that I did a traineeship at a 5 star hotel’s kitchen and realized I wanted to become a chef rather than a construction worker.

Q: Berlin wasn’t really buzzing on the culinary radar of Europe’s cities for a pretty long time. Why do you think that changed over the last years?

A: When I came to Berlin after finishing my training in 2001, there was about a handful of decent restaurants in the city. I think that transformation was due to Berlin drawing young and creative people from all over the world, more than a few of them being chefs. They came here to enjoy life, live their dreams and of course, go partying. The working hours in hotels don’t really fit these ambitions, so many of them took up jobs in restaurants, which eventually led to an increased creative quality on the menues. On the other hand there’s that great supply of organic food we’re getting now, the groceries come straight from the farmers to our restaurants. That led to a big increase of the food’s quality.

Q: Even though you’re still pretty young (33), you’re celebrated as Berlin’s next master chef and the culinary world craves for you creations. How do you handle the hype?

A: To be honest, the hype doesn’t really mean that much to me. I’m just glad I get to cook at my own restaurants and they’re going well, what more could I ask for? Sometimes people ask me if I didn’t want to have a Michelin star, but honestly, I don’t. We’re almost always booked up and having a Michelin star would just mean less guests.

Q: Less guests? I should have thought more guests!

A: Our costumers are a cool, leaned back crowd that come here because they feel we’re still down to earth and carry some of that urban Berlin flair. I feel the same way and don’t care for a star and I think neither do our costumers. Of course, there’s a few Michelin star chefs who are doing a great job at marketing and manage to create their own brand, anyway. In the end, I think the Cookies Cream is one of the top notch restaurants in Berlin, star or not.

Q: Agreed! Is there a dish you can’t stand?

A: I’m really not into food that’s still moving when it’s served. Or blue mold cheese.

Q: Where do you find our inspiration?

A: I just have a look at the groceries, really. There’s about 12 different farmers that I regularly visit and we’re talking through what can be planted or harvested soon and then I just kind of go from there. But my personal favourite is the classic french cuisine. I’m a bit of a potato-boy.

Q: The Cookies Cream is located right above the former Club Cookie. Did you often encounter party zombies that would swing by after dancing a whole night through, seeking to refill their vitamin tanks?

A: Nah, they mostly swung by in the evening, before they became party zombies. Our light fares are a solid choice for a pre-party meal. Lots of vitamins and easy on the stomach, gets you through the night every time. The next morning people are more inclined to pay their tributes to the Chipps, where they can get hearty English meals to deal with the hang over.

Q: Let’s talk clubbing. Do you often pay hommage to the famous Berliner Technoschuppen (techno clubs)?

A: I used to be a real Berghain-kiddo. Even back then, when it was still called Ostgut. I’m a huge fan of electronic music and I’m really into techno and house parties. You’d often find me at Kater Holzig, about:blank or sometimes the Watergate. Then there’s that great underground techno party culture you’ll only find in Berlin… not always strictly legal, but guaranteed to blow your mind away.

Q: Which other restaurants can you recommend? Apart from yours, obviously. 

A: I like to hang out in the Prater Biergarten on sunny days and have some classic Schnitzel along with a cool beer. Hard to beat! Other than that, there’s the Cocolo Ramen on the Gipsstraße, definitely worth a visit.

Alright! Thanks for taking the time, Stephan, we’ll see you soon!

Red Carpet – Henrik’s Excessive World

The end of the year is coming and we’ve used the opportunity to visit the hottest events before 2015!

Premiere of The Hunger Games – Mockingjay 

We chased Hunger Games star Elizabeth Banks to the red carpet of the Berlin premiere after she had left the Soho House just a few seconds before we did. The special screening and 2nd premiere world wide took place in the Kraftwerk, a huge industrial power station which was one of the film locations an   d had that typical Berlin underground flair to it. Everyone had to hand in their phones to grim looking security guys before getting inside – they even had an x-ray scanner! Absolute highlight: the huge symbol of resistance was set on fire during the event, illuminating the airy hall with a fierce glimmer. We were driven home in a VIP shuttle after enjoying pulsing electro beats at the afterparty in the industrial complex. Direct neighbour: Tresor Club!

La Banca – Hotel de Rome

When luxury calls, Berlinagenten isn’t far! And neither is the rest of the world. Bruce Willis’ wife Emma Heming-Willis especially came to Berlin all the way from Los Angeles to attend the grand opening of the restaurant La Banca in Sir Rocco Forte’s Hotel de Rome. The new interior design is working out fabulously, it’s been redesigned nearly as gracefully as some of the richer guests’ facial expressions, cough cough. We lived through a night of tasty rosé-prosecco from Ferrari, super delicious macarons and got mighty drunk with the likes of Jette Joop, Hardy Krüger Jr. and Berlin’s most famous playboy Rolf Eden.

Hotel Zoo Opening

The newest addition to the ensemble of high class hotels in City West started off with a big bang. We came early to witness a thunderstorm of camera flashes greeting us and the oncoming celebrities. People just wouldn’t stop flooding into the hotel until midnight, a point at which you could count yourself lucky if you had enough space to stand on the ground with both feet. We bathed in groovy house beats, had too many vodka cranberries and were entertained well by the whole-hearted attempts of rich boys trying to dance to techno music! Read more about Hotel Zoo here.

Crackers

When we found out that Crackers was about to open its doors we called up all our old raver friends and set sail for a revival. The new bar and restaurant comes with a modern design and was packed with anything from fancy-schmancy to old ravers, even the legendary party queen Britt Kanja paid her hommage (we did an interview with her last month!). True to the Cookies’ spirit, the crowd went completely nuts when the DJ played Tok Tok vs Soffy O’s “Missy Queen’s Gonna Die” – a tribute to the old days of Cookieness. The atmosphere went through the ceiling and never got back down – intense night!

Intercontinental Christmas Party

The annual celebration at the Intercontinental Hotel always knows to please with the classic treats for a good party: great food, even better drinks and a very pleasant crowd. Mostly. With big parties like this one you’ll always see a few hyperactive scroungers trying to set the world record for most eaten food in one night, but the supply was generous and the enthusiastic dancers in sparkling outfits performing to catchy Discoboogie tunes soon made us forget our troubles. We’ll definitely be back next year!

Meliá Hotels International meets Palazzo

Palazzo is where brilliant cooking meets award winning acrobatics and we honestly couldn’t decide what we liked better. Michelin-star chef Kolja Kleeberg created a breathtaking 4 course gourmet dinner, which was great. Our moderator Chantal was hilariously funny, which was great too, but her jokes almost made us throw up all the delicious food again and now our abdominal muscles hurt form laughing! Meliá carefully handpicked their guests – only 20 were in invited to this exclusive event. Nothing you’ll forget too soon!

Cadillac Experience

Who likes sexy American cars and cool underground locations? We do! Cadillac rented an underground parking lot near the Staatsoper and transformed it into a gigantic showroom deep under the surface. Fancy. Numerous stars and and celebs turned up, including Oliver Korittke, Natalia Avelon, Jana Pallaske, Nikolai Kinski, Cathy Fischer and act of the evening: Aloe Blacc and NYC DJ Nick Cohen, who really outdid themselves with their performance. Us and the other 300 guests consisting of car enthusiasts and VIP visitors were quite impressed with the efforts Cadillac had made to really hit the mood of the Berlin scene – it was spot on. Before we left we had a tasty Juicy Lucy Burger by chef Richard Blais, mmm!