Einsunternull, Restaurant, Berlin, Germany
It is astonishing to see how many restaurants have opened during the last few years in Berlin. Einsunternull is another modern and perhaps trendsetting restaurant in the same vein as Nobelhart & Schmutzig. Einsunternull means one below zero, a reference to the floor level of the restaurant rather the level of quality. In Germany, zero is the ground floor, so the restaurant is actually in the cellar.
I have become used to visiting restaurants and inns in buildings’ cellars, mostly in Prague – and I’ve often been critical of this. Although the dining room indeed is one level below the street, it is nicely designed and furnished – around a yard which gives guests the impression they would be on the basement. Kind of a successful concept although there could be a little bit more luxury in my opinion. The entire esprit of the location feels a bit incomplete.
This also applies to the menu. I had the funny idea that Wim Wenders could have been the chef of the restaurant. Maybe because at one time he had a flat not far away from here – but more so because some of his films are brilliant, if not genius, while other films just failed, or even – and this, is in my opinion, the worst that can happen to a film – it is called “interesting.” Many years ago, the German Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker was asked – right after the premiere of the film “Until the End of The World” – how he liked it. He wanted to be polite, since he so seriously admired the artistic work of Wim Wenders in general, so he used the German word for interesting which is “interessant”. What a killer!
As much as I will perhaps be criticized for this, my menu was “interessant.” Two out of eight dishes were really special and excellent, but some just failed completely. It seems that they have a kind of similar dogma of regional food, like the guys of the very successful Nobelhart & Schmutzig – a strong reference for regional cuisine at the moment. This concept is very risky because it requires so much creativity – as well as courage. Some courses simply proved that the ingredients of the region, Berlin-Brandenburg, are – interesting – but not terribly rich or aromatic.
I need to hold back with my words and should become a bit more precise: They trying to create unique and outstanding sauces or elements of single ingredients. Some of it is enchanting, like, for instance, the first “greeting” from the kitchen – fried potato skin! This was really delicious, absolutely unique and something new. Other parts of the menu, on the other hand, were boring or simply too flat.
radish, heart and kress
lamb and celery root
chicken, egg yolk and ramson
carrot, anise and walnut
mushroom vinegar, bacon and black currant
The presentation of the food – I need to be more precise here also – it the design of food itself though the concept of to handle meat, fish, vegetables and fruits. The plate of mushrooms was very aesthetic and beautiful. The King Oyster mushroom instead was borderline – visually almost unappetizing, like some stuff I may have once had in Hong Kong.
Like all restaurants of this type, the very friendly waiter – who had a very “alternative” look – explains each course in detail. I regret that I wasn’t able to follow this explanation the whole time. Some creations seemed to me really very elaborate but also complex. I am not sure if beetroot becomes better or more special when cooked for three days in a row, combined in the end with elder and rose. The result is as I expected it: too semi-liquid and lacking any refreshing moment.
My favorites of the evening were a cucumber dish with some fish eggs (it’s called on the menu: cucumber sorrel and roe), then “radish, heart and kress” and, last but not least, the carrots. That what the restaurant calls “mushroom vinegar” is King Qyster mushroom. It didn’t only looked like as on the pictures …
Maybe you could summarize my critique by saying that some lightness, freshness and glamor was lacking. It is earthy and woody somehow. It is, in a very positive sense of the word now, really very interesting, but it’s too expensive just for experimental dining.
Einsunternull has a great wine selection – rich of unique and plenty of organic wines. The recommendation for the red one was perfect.
It is certainly worth revisiting this restaurant. If the owner of this restaurant has sufficient fortitude, I am pretty sure chef Andreas Rieger and his team will get Einsunternull among the top twenty exciting and unique restaurants in Berlin – it’s definitely a restaurant which has a very specific relationship to tradition. The webpage is stylish: http://einsunternull.com/
I wouldn’t be surprised if Wim Wenders has been seen in this restaurant.
Added at Jan. 5th 2017: in meanwhile the restaurant has one michelin star.