A taste of the future? Berlin’s new Mikrokosmos restaurant on Reichenberger Strasse is serving up a new, unusual delicacy: bugs. It’s been spoken about for a while now, with various start-ups and restaurants trying to harvest insects for food, but most of those projects have misfired. Not so at Mikrokosmos, where grasshoppers and mealworms (the larvae of yellow mealworm beetle) are served up deep-fried. Eating creepy-crawlies has rarely seemed more appetising.
Free-range creepy crawlies
Essentially, this is good modern cooking, which gets a bit of an extra thrill from its sprinkling of insects.
More than five years ago, Italian-born Nicole Sartirani launched “Mikrokosmos Berlin”, a project that aimed to make edible insects widely accessible. Now the project has spawned a restaurant. So what’s the deal? Well, for a start, there aren’t that many insects on the menu. In their weekly offering, only two dishes include the little creepy-crawlies: deep-fried insects as a starter and the caramelised form as a topping for dessert.
The restaurant is a cosy little space, lots of wood, all kinds of clutter next to books and spices, and a small bag in the shape of a May Bug. The lunch menu is pretty reasonable too: starter or dessert, main course, half a litre of water and a coffee for €15. When the critters arrive, they look pretty and snug on a bed of deep-fried, filigree spinach leaves. Reassuringly, all the bugs are bred in Germany. After all, you wouldn’t want anything other than a free-range, locally sourced insect, would you?
The Future is Now
So how do they taste? Well, the flavour of this crunchy finger food really comes from deep-frying and subsequent coating of a delicious soy-ginger-lime-garlic dip. And there isn’t too much science fiction horror: you hardly remember they’re bugs until seeing the crispy deep-fried wings of the grasshoppers.
Above the kitchen counter, a moss painting is emblazoned with the words: “The Future is now”. This speaks to the restaurant’s philosophy. It’s not just edible insects, but a complete rethinking of how and what we eat. With a few exceptions, the kitchen is vegan, vegetarian and sustainable, sourcing organic fruit and vegetables from Brandenburg.
When the critters arrive, they look pretty and snug on a bed of deep-fried, filigree spinach leaves
Apart from its ambition to change society’s perception of insects as food, there is also a South American influence to this cuisine. Chef Diego Castro comes from Peru and you can taste that background to his creations in the fried Brussels sprouts with butter bean hummus and salsa and the warm roasted spicy cabbage ceviche with tangy citrus based marinade known as tiger milk. Essentially, this is good modern cooking, which gets a bit of an extra thrill from its sprinkling of insects.
- Mikrokosmos Reichenberger Str. 122, Kreuzberg, visit their website here.