An attempted teleportation of Parisian savoir vivre into Berlin – gritty yet stylish, casual but expensive. It’s the sort of place that prompts those nostalgic for gritty 1990s Mitte to moan about gentrification. With good reason: the customers, without exception, could be described as well-off, well-dressed, kinda-good-looking, 30-something professionals. If those are the sort of people you want to spend your evening with in a matchbox-sized restaurant, fine!
The cramped black box (formerly a Döner shop) with open kitchen (smelly!) and barely legible chalkboard menu (which arrogantly shouts ‘no credit cards!’) is a pretentiously down played attempt at offering something elegant and exclusive. Key props include a hanging braid of garlic, a stuffed pheasant, and a row of posh vinegar bottles.
This six-table (more outside) joint struck gold after Torstraße hipster Brad Pitt was spotted dining there. Don’t bother going without a reservation, available only at 6pm or 9pm. It took 20 minutes for the overwhelmed waitress to take our order and about an hour to get some food. Later she forgot a second glass of wine and pepper.
To the food: It began with a shot glass of asparagus soup for amuse-gueule. So far so good. We abstained from starters like oysters, foie gras maison (tortured duck guts) with brioche and elderberry jelly, or a half-dozen Burgundy snails and went straight for the mains. We selected a run-of-the-mill Entrecote served with excellent potato gratin with herb butter and a dollop of ratatouille, and a plate of over-salted turbot with dandelion-white bean puree sprinkled with slices of merguez. The highpoint was definitely the potato gratin and a quality glass of Cote du Rhone.
Considering the insiderish comments we’d heard from friends-in-the-know, the Bandol experience was pretty disappointing, though our disappointment had little to do with the food.