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  1. Gianni Gillone Pasta Bar: a bit of Tuscany in Berlin

    Januar 20, 2014 by Wouter

    A short and sweet review on one of Berlin’s finest pasta bars out there.

    It’s always a good sign when my review comes without pictures: usually, it means that the food simply demanded all my devotion – or that the venue was too upper-class to pull out the good old flashy camera. Gianni Gillone’s Pasta bar on the Schönhauser Allee is definitely not a high-end restaurant, but the meal did deserve my undivided attention.

    Ginni Gillone's Pasta Bar: a bit of Florence in BerlinMy friend and I, both hungry after an intense work-out in the late afternoon, went for two big plates of old-fashioned Spaghetti Bolognese. The owner and his wife made us feel welcome and appreciated right away, both working with what can only be described as sheer dedication in their tiny kitchen. With the typical Italian hospitality, they apologized that the preparation of our dinner might take a bit longer than anticipated for, due to a big order from the nearby Soho House.

    Their apologies where not needed: after enjoying their delicious garlic bread, two steaming hot plates with pasta bolognese arrived with just the right amount of grated cheese sprinkled on top.
    You could taste each and every ingredient without loosing the total composition of traditional Italian elements. The olive oil was rich and creamy (not vierge, thank god!), the oregano tasted as if it were reaped from the fields from Tuscany just hours ago. The meat had the right amount of seasoning.

    To put it short: we were in Florence.
    Don’t let their basic interior design fool you: Gianni’s is worth the visit.

    For those of you in a hurry: yes, they are a traiteur (take-away) as well!

    Gianni Gillone Pasta Bar & Italienische Feinkost
    Schönhauser Allee 186A
    10119 Berlin
    PS: They are on Google Plus!

  2. Restaurant Tauro: great ambience, mediocre food

    Dezember 14, 2013 by Wouter

    Yesterday, the company Christiane and I work for, treated the staff a dinner in Restaurant Tauro in the Pfefferberg complex in Prenzlauer Berg.

    Having spent over two hours in the freezing cold on a Christmas fair behind Alexanderplatz, we were all more than happy to find shelter in this restaurant. Somehow, they managed to make the place look both grand and cozy. The lighting was perfect, the floor was not cramped with tables and the staff was very thoughtful.

    Restaurant Pfefferberg knows how to create a cozy atmosphere

    Could someone please explain me why, oh why restaurants always fail to put a few baskets of bread, humus and tapenade upfront on the tables, so that a group of over 50 hungry souls can at least take the edge off of their hungriness? It’s not like we barged into the joint unexpectedly.

    Thank god for their fine collection of whiskies: a colleage and I choose for the 18-year old Glenfiddich. This kept me occupied until the arrival of the hors d’oeuvre. If only it would have looked better than what we were presented:

    Salami, olives, some lettuce and a bit of cheese

    The salami was bland, the olives had no distinct taste and the chunk of watermelon was rock hard and, simply, tasteless. And what is going on with the lay-out?

    So, needless to say we had our hopes up for the main course, right? After all, you can’t go wrong with a rinderfilet!
    Well.. Apparently, ou can.

    The rinderfilet was okay. Not more than that. While the texture of the meat was quite good, not too rare yet very tender, the taste of the meat was lacking any depth. Sure, it wasn’t bad or anything – but I couldn’t help but wondering if the chef skimped on the seasoning.
    My table companions and I were all glad that there was a set of pepper and salt at our disposal. And boy; did that meat need that pinch of pepper! The filet was accompanied by bland spinach and lukewarm potatoes. Had this plate been cooling off in queue for the last twenty minutes?

    Rinderfilet that could have used a lot more 'oomph'

    Highlight of the evening? Their fabulous chocolate mousse creation. If only the chef in charge of the meat could take a lesson or two of the Chef de Patissier, we would all reccommend this fabulous looking restaurant to all our culinary friends in Berlin. Now, I’d rather advice them to get a simple steak at the Lidl for € 2,99 – as you will most likely do a better job than restaurant Tauro.

    Schönhauser Allee 176
    10119 Berlin

  3. Restaurant Waterlily in Friedrichshain

    November 26, 2013 by Wouter

    Nothing makes my culinary heart beat faster than a new restaurant that claims to offer ‚real, authentic Vietnamese dishes‘. Waterlily at the Karl-Marx-Allee promises to be one of those places that increase your cardiac rhythm.

    Upon arrival, I was greeted by friendly, humble staff and shown a table at the window, next to a gently purring radiator. To my untrained, Western eye, the staff looked very much genuine Vietnamese to me, but you could fool me if you would tell me they are actually from Laos, Myanmar or Thailand.

    Speaking of Thailand: why is it that their in Waterlily menu resembles so much ingredients typically used in Thai dishes? Green curry, peanuts, fresh fruits and a lot of coconut milk. Delicious, nonetheless, but a bit outlandish when you expect to choose from authentic, Vietnamese specials.

    I opted for the R8: Rice with green and red curry, a lot of (western) vegetables and chicken filet baked in coconut milk and a hint of lemon grass. To accompany my meal, I was suggested to drink their fresh made fruitshakes, based on coconut milk and strawberries. Again, nothing typical Vietnamese here.

    But hey – I am being a nitpicker here. Because the most important goal tonight was to simply enjoy a nice dish in a friendly atmosphere. And that is what exactly what occured: the ambience is in Waterlily quiet, almost serene, there is no loud background music and the staff is very alert.
    The food was de-li-ci-ous: everything had its own, uncorrupted taste while it merged with each other in a surprisingly pure fashion. They have mastered the art of keeping the chicken filet tender and they didn’t overdo the spicing.

    The bill was just as pleasant as the whole treatment had been for me: to spend just over ten euro’s for a filled stomach and a relaxing hour away from the busy Karl-Marx-Allee was an hour well-spent. Might not be the legitimate Vietnamese restaurant we are all hunting for in Berlino, but it sure is worth the try.

    If only for the lovely, cut-out Waterlilies on the wall.

    Karl-Marx-Allee 113, Friedrichshain, open daily from 18:00 to 22:00

  4. An Evening at Fleischlust at Prenzlauer Berg

    November 21, 2013 by Wouter

    Since I work together with Christiane, I have found myself a beacon in the darkness of the obscure gourmet city that is Berlin. Tonight, I asked her for a reccommendation on a good steak restaurant. I was advised to try Fleischlust, in Prenzlauerberg.

    When my friend and I parked our bikes, we were having our doubts about entering the place. With that cheap red light and the wrong logo, it looked like a bar for yuppies! However, our hunger for steaks got the better part of us: we shouldn’t judge the book by it’s cover.

    Inside, we were greeted by two very friendly waiters, who gave us a perfect seat at the window at Fleischlust. The lighting was perfect, the background music not too loud and the temperature was just right. After performing a quick-scan on the menu, we had to admit that we were impressed by the extent of the menu. Unlike others, Fleischlust really offers an array of dishes.

    My friend went for the rinderfliet with a salad, I settled for the Huftsteak with baked potatoes, aioli-curry humus and wine-honey sauce. This feast was preceded by garlic bread, which had been in the oven a bit too long, unfortunately.
    The meat was just right: not too bloody, not too dry and not too thick. I could tell that they are using perfect meat, by the way the knife would cut into the steak – at first, the meat resisted a bit, but once you got through the outer layer, the knife would simply slide in.
    The baked potatoes could have done with a bit of seasoning and salt, but they were not too fat, which is an accomplishment by itself.

    My friend’s rinderfilet was a bit too rare for his taste. This was no problem at all: with a smile, the waiter told him that he would be happy to ‚give the rinderfilet a few more minutes on the lava stone‘. Upon return, the filet was exactly how he likes it.
    After dinner, we felt like having something sweet. Maybe something with fruit or chocolates? Alas, this was not possible, as Fleischlust has no desert menu! We felt a bit dissapointment, but decided that the main course made up for it.

    Conclusion: Fleischlust is a lovely restaurant that works with fine ingredients and good staff. The meat is worth to come back for and the ambience feels very welcome. Once the menu includes deserts, I will be a very satisfied, returning customer.

    Huftsteak in Fleischlust Prenzlauer Berg

    Huftsteak in Fleischlust Prenzlauer Berg