Tag Archives: fine dining

The Scene meets Orania.Berlin

When we heard there was a new upscale hotel opening in Kreuzberg, we smirked. Kreuzberg? A district where kebap shops still rule supreme? Where luxury is a swear word and halal is life? Good luck with that. Surely any challenger to the kebap throne would face severe consequences. Luckily, Orania.Berlin isn’t too fussed out. Draped in a red cape with golden elephants on it, the all-new boutique hotel is bringing class back to Kreuzberg.

Actually, Orania is not just a hotel. It’s also a fine dining restaurant. An upscale bar. A literary salon. A music venue. Three times a week, concerts can be attended to in the lobby for as little as 12€. Classic music on Tuesdays, jazz on Thursdays and electro jams on Saturdays, all featuring internationally renowned artists. Orania is far from being „just another upscale hotel“. And yet, some Kreuzbergers don’t approve. The historical sand stone facade had to be cleaned of paint bomb attacks a few weeks back. People don’t trust new things, especially if they resemble luxury.

Inside waits the real highlight – the food. Chef Philipp Vogel is an absolute cooking wizard, inspired by his time in London, Vienna and Shanghai. We kept screaming „YES“ on our way to dinner and went on to scream „OH YES“ with every bite we took. Just mentally of course. We didn’t want to look like the lunatics we are. But damn, it was good. From lukewarm artichokes with octopus to lettuce broth with parmesan-tortellini, we award every dish 11 out of 10 points. Strangely, the first thing that comes to mind is the dessert. French toast with bacon ice cream and a slice of bacon on top. Yes, that’s a thing. Yes, you need to try it.

Let’s be honest. Kebap’s reign in Kreuzberg will continue. But still, Orania is the hero we’ve all been waiting for. True, it’s located in a rough and raw part of town, but that’s just adding to the charm. It’s sophisticated, delicious and unpretentious. It’s everything you want from a hotel and more. We’ll definitely be back!

The Scene – 10 New Hotspots in Berlin

Spring descends upon Germany’s capital of cool. Berlin’s hipsters, foodies, lovers, bar hoppers, clubbers and lunatics curiously stick their heads out of the holes they have been hiding in during the freezing winter. Time to discover what’s new and trendy in Berlin city! We’ve compiled a list with the best new hotspots, from bars and clubs to restaurants and breweries.

Cafés

Mario Kaiser Patisserie
When Mario Kaiser left Berlin to work in kitchens around the world 8 years ago, Berlin’s trendy food scene was still a long way coming. With Mario having refined his skills in Paris, London, Zurich and the USA, he now offers delicious pastries in his brand new Prenzlauer Berg patisserie. Berlin is finally ready for upscale confectioners and Mario is planning to expand his menu soon. Just like trendsetting Coda Dessert Bar in Neukölln, he’s planning to add alcoholic beverages to pair with the delicacies soon – a promising concept.

The Visit Roastery
A bar-raising new addition to Berlin’s flourishing specialty coffee scene. Located in a Kreuzberg backyard near Kottbusser Tor, the coffee bar creates a strong contrast to its somewhat shabby surroundings. The stylishly decorated space inside is both welcoming and inviting, its openness allowing you to relax at either a regular table or in the MacBook-loaded sitting corner. The place feels very clean  – and a little sterile. As soon as you take the first sip on your specialty coffee, that’s easily forgotten.

Restaurants

Mine Restaurant
Mine’s Owner Aram Mnatsakanov is often considered the Russian Jamie Oliver. His Italian restaurants in Moscow and St. Petersburg rank among the best in their category and he’s been a prominent host for TV shows like “Hell’s Kitchen Russia” and “Hell’s Kitchen Ukraine”. With his intriguing modern interpretation of classic Italian cuisine and a premium selection of ingredients from all over Europe, you’ll find Mine’s dishes to taste familiar and yet refreshingly different.

Izakaya at Sra Bua
Renowned fine-dining restaurant Sra Bua by Tim Raue located on Hotel Adlon’s ground floor is surprising gourmets with a new concept this year! While the main room is still dedicated to classic menu service, the Izakaya section pays hommage to Japan’s dining culture, essentially creating two restaurants under one roof. The concept is to sit back, enjoy drinks (sake anyone?) and socialise as light dishes are shared family style. The delicacies range from spring rolls with green applesauce to delicious beef tartar “japan style”.

Bars

Mampe’s neue Heimat
Strictly speaking, Mampe isn’t a bar. It’s Berlin oldest existing liquor brand, on its way back to world domination. Their new location “Mampe’s neue Heimat” is an all-in-one museum, exclusive liquor store and event location housing its own distillery. With distilling workshops, liquor tastings and a strict Berlin-only delivery policy, Mampe is setting sail to once again become Berlin’s most prestigious and exclusive liquor brand.

Wine Bar
Mine restaurant’s bar is located in the neighbouring building and one word sums up the space perfectly: small. In fact, it’s better known as Berlin’s smallest bar and invites guests to sip on tasty aperetifs before dinner or tol roll over for a nightcap after a long meal. Don’t forget to check out the space at the back as you’ll find some hidden corners ideal for mingling.

Clubs

Beate Uwe
A small and intimate club hidden right under the noses of most tourists. Despite its close proximity to Alexanderplatz it remains a refuge for a very leaned back crowd. It’s the perfect start into a wild night out, but it’s just as perfect if you’re looking for an electronic club night without stomping on people’s feet. Probably the only club in Berlin where you can dance barefoot.

Haubentaucher
When Haubentaucher opened its doors two summers ago, it immediately drew a huge mixed crowd of sun-hungry Berliners, hipsters and tourists. Within weeks, it became the “in” location of the summer 2015, and 2016 was no less busy! What most people don’t know – they boast a small but high quality club with great lineups and even better party. Check it out!

Breweries

BRLO
The slavic word “BRLO” is the origin of “Berlin”. While they have strong roots to our beloved capital, BRLO is a creative brewery also inspired by international influences. With their German IPA, Pale Ale, Weisse, Helles and Porter they offer a solid selection of high quality beers. Brewmaster Michael Lembke secrets range from ecological malt to brewing water energized with gemstones. Added value: a fabulous food concept with shared vegetarian dishes (meat comes as sides) and a huge terrace for sunny days. They stick to the motto “Save the planet, it’s the only one with beer“.

BrewDog
Us Germans, we love beer. We absolutely worship it. Hence we’re thrilled to welcome Scottish brewery BrewDog to Berlin, where they opened their first craft beer bar in Germany. With its typical Berlin industrial charm, brick walls, vintage lamps and pinball machines, it’s the perfect location for thirsty beer lovers.

The Scene meets Nithan Thai

Paris, Amsterdam, New York, Mumbai, Prague, Tel Aviv and now Berlin. Chef Shahaf Shabtay’s impressive resume sounds like a rockstar’s tour schedule. Though he may never become a guitar hero, his restaurant series Nithan Thai is sure to strike a chord with foodies all over the world.

Shahaf learned his handicraft in Paris, the undisputed Capitol of gourmets. His talent landed him jobs in world class kitchens, but his inspiration stems from more exotic environments.

Every now and then he packs his bag and travels small villages all over Southeast Asia, returning home with unheard-of cooking techniques and culinary wisdom beyond his years. His aim is to promote a food language that is relatable, down-to-earth and yet innovative. Why not focus solely on French cuisine, though?

“French food takes too long to cook. I prefer the fast-paced Asian cuisine” Shahaf tells us with a grin. While his French teachers doubted his vision for a long time, the exceptional blend of Asian and French cuisine that Shahaf has brought to perfection is now held in high regard even by his old masters.

Tasting his Thong Kum, a roll filled with Bangkok style beef, calamandi orange, smoked sesame and Tia-To Nanami, we can’t quite believe our tongues. A slowly unfolding taste explosion. It’s meaty, fruity, sweet, bitter, salty and even a little crunchy. While chewing, the rest of the world seems to fade away as our brains try to process the firework of sensations. What many chefs struggle to accomplish in a whole menu, the Thong Kum does in one bite. Amazing!

The exceptional menu is complimented by an elegant and laid back interior design, held in a discreet mix of grey, green and yellow, topped off by dark wood elements. The Asian touch shows on the decor. A golden elephant here, a few white flowers there and golden vases around the room remind you where Shahaf finds inspiration.

Now, for the best part. Main courses are around 20€. That’s 20€ for dishes that easily compete with michelin-star kitchens. Nithan Thai’s pricing fills the gap between high class cuisine and your usual neighbourhood restaurant, while the taste is nothing short of spectacular. 10/10 from Berlinagenten!

The Scene meets Zen Kichi

“Hey look at th- AAAAHHH”. Whoops. We mistook one of the waiters for a ninja again. Upon descending the stairway leading into the underground maze called Zen Kichi near Friedrichstraße, you can’t help but feeling like Alice entering Wonderland. With the light dimmed down low, the path is surrounded by bamboo stems and dark woodwork while the encircling walls are largely covered by mirrors, creating the illusion of an endless fairytale forest that could house anything from ninjas to unicorns. Can’t say we’ve ever seen anything this cool before.

The harmonic interior was designed by Motoko Watanabe, the masterbrain behind Zen Kichi. While she’s responsible for the concept and the lion’s share of the work, her husband Shaul Margulies is the muscle in their tag team. Both Zen Kichi New York and Zen Kichi Berlin have been handbuilt by Shaul and just a bunch of helping hands!

The place stands out from your usual dining experience. Apart from stunning visuals and the intimate atmosphere the 35 separées create, there’s another thing that’s bound to leave you speechless: the dishes. Forget about your european-style sushi, Zen Kichi offers some culinary delights largely unheard of in this part of the hemisphere. We don’t want to give away too much, but be assured: Zen Kichi will take both you and your taste buds on a heavenly journey straight to Japan.

The culinary team is putting up a huge effort to serve you nothing but the best ingredients available. While the taste is japanese, the menu features many international treasures. We had fish from Alaska, apple-fed pork from Brandenburg, beef from Ireland and a fine selection of Sake from Japan, handpicked by Motoko herself. She’s also a Sake sommelier, so expect nothing but the best Sake in town.

Summing it up, Zen Kichi adds a promising new facet to Berlin’s culinary world. It’s not only a vivid experience for your tastebuds, it’s also a journey to another world of cool.

Here’s a short selection of the dishes we had:

Apple-Fed Pork Kalumi – original pork belly with simmered egg in a traditional sweet-dashi broth

Bamboo Tsukune Chicken – Japanese chicken meatball on bamboo served with soft egg dipping sauce

Hijiki – Japanese seaweed simmered in sweet sake and soy sauce

Grilled Saikyo Black Cod – Alaskan Black Cod in Zenkichi’s original Kyoto miso marinade

Rocksalt Jidori Chicken – Simply grilled free-range chicken with sprinkle lemon

Organic Beef Tataki – Organic filet mignon (rare) thinly sliced and lightly seared: served with ginger garlic soy sauce

On Tour – ICA

Berlin’s evergrowing food craze has made people from all over the world hungry for a taste of our bittersweet city! We were happy to show ICA the city’s tastiest spots with one of Berlinagenten’s infamous Cool Hunting Tours. These tours are focused on finding emerging trends, business innovations and the city’s currents of tomorrow. To make sure ICA’s needs were met perfectly, we put the tour’s emphasis on cool street food markets, delicious pop up events, charismatic bistros by the water, edgy little food shops and the emerging fine dining scene that create Berlin’s culinary diversity. 

We slipped into the role of Sherlock Holmes himself (well, a modern, food-obsessed version of Sherlock maybe). Armed with polaroid cameras and given the task to uncover the secrets of hidden concept stores, organic food stores, delicacy shops and urban fast food markets, our enthusiastic food detectives dived into a sea of tasty treats and took the journey into the city’s vivid culinary core. Our exclusive selection of hip food locations such as Neue Heimat, the legendary Turkish market at Maybachufer and organic super markets like the LPG Bio Market or Biocompany made sure the next tongue-pleasers were never far away.

Berlin takes a leading position when it comes to fresh designs and innovative food impressions and we take a special pride in leading you to the most extraordinary concept stores the city offers, just so you can take home the inspiration you need to get on with your ideas!

In the end though, it’s much more satisfying to see the delicacies on your plate than in front of your camera. For our following Riverside Gastro Rallye we handpicked restaurants like insider’s tip Volt and Sage Restaurant, where we were served one course per restaurant before hopping to the next – a wonderful way to pick up the vibe in different part of the cities.

Now we wouldn’t Berlinagenten if we hadn’t finished off the day with an appropriate portion of glamour, so after some extensive bar hopping our connections helped us jump queues and dance until we could dance no more in the famous house club Avenue! Just one Berlinagenten tour is already bound to blow your mind, but three in one day…? You’ll never look at Berlin the same away again!

On Tour with Visit Berlin and Taiwanese media and tour operators

Visit Berlin does an amazing job of exporting Berlin as a premier tourism destination all around the world. Berlinagenten partners with Visit Berlin when it comes to showing both journalists and travel industry professionals, the very best that Berlin’s gourmet scene has to offer with our famous Gastro Rallye’s.

Visit Berlin, in association with the Taiwanese office of the DB Bahn were hosting 10 of Taiwan’s top media and tourist industry professionals. The group had been travelling around Germany for a week by train. Now it was a chance to see Berlin! Berlinagenten curated a programme that showcased Berlin’s amazing culinary scene at the city’s finest restaurants.

On board for the tour was Visit Berlin’s Joyce Olivia Bernitt, who organises the programmes for incoming tour operators and Claudia Sult from the Visit Berlin Press Office.

After being picked up by a luxury bus, we started our tour at Volt, where head Chef Matthias Gleiß interprets traditional Berlin dishes and German classics into a gourmet’s delight. Next, it was onto new French hotspot Restaurant Richard for our main course before we had dessert at the trendy Sage restaurant. By the end of the night, eight out of our ten guests had fully embraced the Berlin spirit and were last seen heading into Tresor Night Club, despite having an early morning flight home! Our mission was complete!

Photos: Lollie Barr & Steven Hsu

The Scene meets Eins 44

Something is stirring in deepest, darkest Neukölln. Better known for its kebab houses than an innovative food scene, things are certain to change with the launch of the brand new restaurant Eins 44 Kantine.

Tucked away in an art deco courtyard, you would never know this place existed. Yet after Berlinagenten tested out the menu, it’s guaranteed Berliners will be heading west and hitting the backstreets of Neukölln in the hope of seeking it out. Restaurant manager Jonathan Kartenberg and head chef Sebastian Radtke, were formerly at another one of favourite restaurants, Mani. The cuisine grounds itself in French basics, yet the exciting young team have updated it and then infused it with international flavours to create something brand new.

For a new restaurant, we were impressed by the ambiance that makes this place feel like a familiar cozy neighbourhood eatery, but all the while being highly stylised. The two story building was originally a distillery, so there is a spacious modern, post industrial feel. Its original tiled walls, ceiling and impressive bar, acquired vintage lamps, wooden tables and chairs that date back 30 years combine together to create a very lived-in, cool atmosphere. Being Berlin, naturally smokers are accommodated in the form of smokers’ room, which features a massive wooden table on a turbine engine. 

We were certainly impressed by the food. To get our mouths watering, we started out with a gift from the kitchen, a dainty yet delicious mini Pork Belly Burger. First course, we decided on a delicious light crusted Golden Trout with granny smith apple and radish salad, along with a tender Beef Carpaccio with asparagus, grapefruit and a hint of coriander. For the main course, it was a speciality French pork done two ways, with a delightful cauliflower puree, and we also shared a perfectly grilled piece of prime entrecôte with potatoes and beans. Heaven arrived in the form of a 70% percent chocolate brownie cake with rosemary pineapple, mint and strawberry coulis for dessert.

Now for the very good news, despite the quality and the ambience, Eins 44 is very reasonably priced. A three course meal costs 33 euros, four courses is 42 euros and five courses just 51 euros. Or you can buy individual courses. It is complimented with a fine French and German wine list.

Eins 44 is definitely buzzing on our new Berlin restaurant radar! We honestly can’t wait to return.

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HOW BERLINAGENTEN INVENTED THE GASTRO-RALLYE

Food can make or a break a visit to a new city. But how do you find the rare gems, the temples of gastronomy, the restaurants of the moment that crackle with an electric atmosphere? Well, you could always look online. However, chances are you’ll find a restaurant with good reviews but on arrival you find the waitress getting drunk on her own tears of boredom in an empty restaurant because the critiques were from 2011 before that regrettable food poisoning epidemic.

Or you spend hours traipsing around aimlessly looking into restaurant windows trying to decide on where to go, then by the time you make your decision you can’t get a table. Even worse, you consult your guide book and find yourself in a restaurant full of tourists wearing bum bags and baggy track pants complaining loudly that the food is better back home.

It was 10 years ago that Henrik started Berlinagenten after coming up with a very unique idea – the Gastro-Rallye. The idea being guests get to sample between three and four of Berlin’s finest restaurants in a one night. At each hand picked restaurant, you not only get to experience a different course but you also get pick on a different scene, a different vibe with the guarantee of fabulous food and atmosphere.

What makes it so special is your personal guide. We pride ourselves on hiring well-informed guides with big personalities. You will walk off each course between restaurants as your guide gives you an insight into the local area, as well as fabulous insider tips that will make your stay all the more special.

Due to Berlinagenten‘s contract with Visit Berlin, more than 1500 journalists have been on a Gastro-Rallye and we are constantly covered in print and on TV. Our clients include jet setters from New York’s upper East side, Hollywood types, corporates, bonding family groups, loved up couples, and everyone else in between. So it is no wonder that Berlinagenten has exported the concept to other destinations outside Germany.

Check out the Berlinagenten Tour Shop for more information.

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