The façade of Moabit’s Richwater & Mitchell makes it look like the kind of place you might frequent during those cool, hazy Berlin nights – just not to eat. Concealed on sleepy Wiclefstraße, accessible via a tiny, nondescript wooden door freakishly illuminated by a single red light bulb, this three-month-old outfit by German-Brit wunderkind chef Anton Michel looks to be serving up darkwave and Dracula rather than anything to do with “New London Cuisine”.
The disorientation only increases inside, where the dungeon theme unfolds further, albeit kitsch-ier: green-bricked walls lined with mummified lampshades evincing equal parts Skeletor and underground Super Mario level. But don’t fret: grab a seat and a glass of Chardonnay fizz from Sussex (€10, even before the inevitable post-Brexit price surge), and give things a second. A well-curated non-intrusive shoegaze soundtrack and the steady hum of patrons will begin to fill out any dead air, a complimentary plate comprising toasty homemade sourdough and Cornish sea-salted butter will find its way to you – and so begins the best foray into British food Berlin has to offer.
As jumbled and uncertain the décor, Richwater’s culinary direction couldn’t be clearer. The goal is to provide “a refreshing take on modern British cuisine,” and for this, the 24-year-old chef has settled on a concise, approachable menu with two emphases: classics executed to perfection, and an ever-changing array of more innovative dishes. At Richwater, both takes are realised admirably, and, in some instances, euphorically. From the classics, the very Instagrammable Scotch egg (€7) is a solid entry-point to the cuisine’s traditional salty/fat appeal – its meaty, deep-fried coating coalesces in all the best, most comforting ways with an insulated core of rich yolk – but it’s the triple-cooked chips (€6) that impress most. Crispy with a convective, golden-ridged shell, they satisfy in the way only salty fried potatoes can. They don’t even need the accompanying tartar sauce (which, by the way, is really good: nicely herbed, unabrasive, not too acidic or mayo-y).
From the “unfamiliar” side, the impeccably medium-rare saddle of lamb (€14), pooled alongside cured corned beef and a bevy of well-seasoned vegetables in an addictingly simple lamb jus, is a strong jaunt in another direction. As for the buttery whiting (€10) – a sustainable cousin of cod fished off Britain’s east coast, complemented at Richwater by a rich celeriac mash and a bright side of diced celery and apple – it had us clamouring for more. This all sound too carnivorous? Fear not: while vegetarian food isn’t its main focus, Richwater does offer a small but satiating selection of meatless dishes, including a €12 plate of blue Stilton and Montgomery cheddar and the €8 onion bhaji with carrots and coriander.
You won’t find any cutting-edge hipster fusion nonsense here. Anton Michel is looking to spolight the breadth of one cuisine, simply and authentically – offering the traditional highlights while revealing its modern potentials – and hoping patrons will jump on the bandwagon. We know we’re on it.