Bieberbau, Restaurant, Berlin, Germany
The variety of restaurants in Berlin is really impressive. 19 Michelin Star restaurants (13 with one star, 6 with two stars) among 4650 (!) restaurants in general. The number comes from the municipality of Berlin and it’s not stated clearly whether or not McDonald’s is included in this data. In any case, it’s easy to imagine that there is a lot of competition. Owners and managers of restaurants need to generate special publicity. One may have a great location or a niche cuisine. At Michelin star restaurants certainly, chefs are in the foreground, though according to my observations, flair and atmosphere also count, in particular if you have such strong competition even among top cooks. Yes, you can find any kind of food and cuisine in Berlin. Considering that Berlin between 1945 and 1990 (East and West) was known for poor and rather bad cooking, the development in the past 25 years is impressive.
A visit to the restaurant Bieberbau can be easily rated as special. Located in a quiet neighborhood. Certainly no walk-in customers, probably people from the vicinity and then, presumably, a very loyal patronage – guests who have been coming very regularly to this restaurant for many years. Hearing the name “Bieberbau” might led you believe that the restaurant’s name in English is “Beaver Lodge”. But beaver in German is actually “Biber”! My first association was also wrong, although I can imagine many others still are associating the name of this restaurant to the aforementioned sweet little species of rodent. Just to avoid any further misunderstanding, the restaurant does not belong to Justin Bieber either. It is a reference to a stucco-worker named Bieber who created the design of the very unique and arty dining room. The dining room was once the showroom of Bieber’s atelier!
Bieberbau has been operating as a restaurant since 1894! I’ve often been writing about Berlin’s culinary development of the last 25 years – in contrast, this place was a functioning inn for 50 years preceding WWII! This is tradition, to put it simply, and therefore I’d like to agree with the actual motto presented on Bieberbau’s homepage: “between tradition and sophistication” – http://www.bieberbau-berlin.de/.
The chef and owner is Stephan Garkisch. With absolutely no ill-intentions, you could call him a representative of understatement. How many chefs today are rather show-masters or entertainers? In my opinion far too many. Here you have the feeling, quite strongly, that Stephan Garkish and his team are really behind the food! They cook and do not challenge themselves with other poseur. The menu appears unpretentious – a selection of rather classic meals and combination with some smart additions – mostly from his own herb garden. His does not frame himself within a very regional concept although most of the ingredients are relatively local or regional – at least mostly German.
It was a nice and enjoyable eating experience.
MARINATED CHAR WITH PAPAYA: crème fraîche, Ablinger bacon , sea weeds & green pepper
It was not the best, nothing was really outstandingly unique or new, but very solid and in some parts excellent: this in particular applies to the pigeon.
MÜNSTERLÄNDER PIGEON: cima di rapa, salsify, pickles & black pudding
In general I do not understand why pigeon is so rare – maybe because it isn’t easy to cook as really often it is chewy or even leathery. The meat was wonderful – a good bite to it but soft enough to savor the full aroma of this seldom red poultry.
IVOIRE COUVERTURE AND DILL: mango, cereals & licorice
Regrettably the dessert was dull, although probably the only “experimental” dish.
The wine selection fits very much to the restaurant: no show-off wines, individually selected with both sense and care – some unique offerings among mostly German wines – like a St. Laurent from German top winemaker Knisper.
Summing up: if you like to spend an evening in a rather quiet, un-hip restaurant and at some distance to popular districts of Berlin, but in an artistic, old-fashioned location, one full of old-world character – here it is. Honestly it is quite bourgeois, although the quality of food makes a visit the restaurant worthwhile. Aside from all previously-mentioned aspects, one of the most impressive and convincing points is an enormous fair price value. In comparison to many of above mentioned Michelin star restaurants, Bieberbau offers food for normal mortals!
“Bieberbau” is a good example how different and multifaceted Berlin’s gastronomy presents itself today.