You can’t eat the rich, but you can eat a chocolate replica of their favourite car.
That’s some consolation, I think grimly as I bring my fork down through the roof of the miniature Cord 810/812 on my dessert plate. Made with single-origin Madagascar cacao, it’s an exact simulacrum of the shiny black automobile that takes up most of the foyer of the restaurant I’m sitting in.
The Cord, the American luxury automobile manufactured for a couple years in the 1930s before being discontinued due to reliability issues, was very slick but poorly thought out. So is The Cord, the new fine dining locale on Schöneberg’s EUREF campus. It’s pretty ballsy, really.
Imagine you’re Reinhard Müller, the architect, property developer and investor behind EUREF. You’re in charge of what you yourself have described as a “real-world laboratory for the shift to renewable energy,” a 5.5-hectare complex comprising new, carbon-neutral buildings housing sustainability-focused start-ups and research facilities as well as the offices of energy and mobility heavy-hitters like Gasag, GE and Deutsche Bahn.
And for the gastronomic crown jewel of that complex, the restaurant in which the CEOs of the aforementioned companies are meant to wine and dine each other, you personally request… a steakhouse. Named after a fucking car.
Because of this, it’s hard to review The Cord’s food objectively. It’s true that other Berlin restaurants serve imported beef, including Exberliner faves like Lino’s BBQ. But they’re not part of a project that claims to “meet the Federal Government’s climate targets for 2045 since 2014”. Culinary director Thomas Kammeier, formerly of the Michelin-starred Hugo’s in Charlottenburg’s Intercontinental Hotel, justifies the use of American wagyu and Irish porterhouse by pointing out that they come from well-treated animals raised on small farms, but even then, and even if cows didn’t generate an average of 60 kilos of greenhouse emissions per kilo of meat produced, it’s not like they walked here from Nebraska, did they?
For all their talk of innovation and transformation, the men who run EUREF and the corporations therein only want the world to change in ways that don’t affect their own personal lifestyles.
To add insult to climate injury, The Cord doesn’t even need beef to be a decent restaurant. Sure, the US strip loin (€48/350g), dry-aged in-house and perfectly medium-rare, scratches some kind of primal itch. But so does the relatively environmentally friendly Basque Duroc pork (€28/300g), grilled till just shy of well done and juicier than I thought a pork loin could ever be. (Like the steak, it’s served in pre-sliced portions meant for sharing).
Meanwhile, the barbecued Spitzkohl, a clichéd veggie option in restaurants like these, is one of the best versions I’ve tried thus far, jazzed up with an earthy celery root purée and bright strips of Amalfi lemon zest. Diners with €50 to burn could make an excellent meal out of that, the starter with roast cauliflower, nut butter and crunchy bread crumbs, and the delicious, albeit buttery, mashed potatoes.
But Herr Müller wants dead cows, so dead cows he shall get. Because for all their talk of innovation and transformation, the men who run EUREF and the corporations therein only want the world to change in ways that don’t affect their own personal lifestyles. Eating here, I feel like I’m catching a glimpse of their preferred future, one in which us plebes cheerfully accept driverless mobility solutions and a diet of processed soy products “to save the planet” while they continue to feast on flown-in ribeye and caviar – did I mention The Cord has caviar? – and brag about their vintage gas-guzzlers
As I expected, the interior of the chocolate Cord is silky-smooth and almost indecently decadent. But as tasty as it is, I can’t finish more than half of it. I’ve had my fill.
The Cord, EUREF-Campus 23-24, Schöneberg, Wed-Sun 17:30-23, www.thecord.de