Layla, Restaurant, Berlin, Germany
6 by Alexander van Dülmen
Already the third time: another review by best friend Elisabeth Burghardt – this time about a new hot-spot restaurant in Berlin
It’s been a few years now that Israeli chefs have been leaving their mark on the international culinary scene, especially with their imaginative use of traditional oriental ingredients, spices and herbs. Foodies across the world have become devoted disciples of stars like Yotam Ottolenghi, Gal Ben Moshe or Meir Adoni. The latter, well-known for his hugely popular restaurants in Tel Aviv and New York, has just recently opened Layla, a new hotspot smack in the middle of Berlin.
The tasteful, contemporary interior design provides a glamorous stage for the hip international clientele that crowds Meir Adoni’s latest brainchild. One could argue that the place tries a bit too hard to please, the music is a little too loud, the design a little too emphasized. But the food. Of course. Most importantly the food. We are seated right across from the large open kitchen, which is the heart of the restaurant. This allows us to enjoy the spectacle of a well-honed kitchen-team at work.
We feel the buzz, hear the sizzling in the pans and smell mouth-watering aromas. We are amazed by the amount of butter that disappears in shiny pots and pans, making us excited for what it to come.
We start out with a mix of appetizers: Smoked eggplant carpaccio with tahini, date honey, covered with pistachios. A dish like a painting, beautifully arranged in flat bowl, covered with rose petals. The strong smoke flavor mixed with the sweet honey and the nuts create an amazing sensation in your mouth. The smoked trout, formed in little balls, served on a bed of rocks, also wonderfully combines the sweetness of Medjoul dates with fragrant vinaigrette and almonds.
The crisp lamb arayes, another signature dish, where lamb kebab meets mango and eggplants is nothing short of terrific. We also try the Kubbana Brioche, a small loaf of perfect fluffy, slightly moist textured bread with black sesame served with aioli, flavored oil and tomato salsa. A perfect addition to the deliciously rich appetizers. For me this would have been plenty enough. But of course we have to try one of the main courses and the grilled octopus in Moroccan spices just sounds too tempting. It has a great consistency and comes accompanied by spicy Jerusalem artichokes, baby carrots, Urfa peppers and yogurt with yuzu and harissa. It certainly doesn’t disappoint but at the same time doesn’t quite come up to the outstandingly yummy and aesthetically arranged meze. Impossible to try any of the rich desserts. Next time I’d skip the main course and opt for the Chocolat Cremeux or the Halva mousse with chocolate and cardamom stones. But that’s just me, your regular chocoholic.
Surprisingly we missed an open Israeli wine on the menu, which would have been nice to have. Definitely a place one should try. A bit on the pricey side, but well worth it if you’re going for an excellent, fun and scrumptious culinary experience, served by a super friendly international staff in a very chic setting. If you prefer something cozy, quiet and low-key, probably not so.
A small minus for the drafty, unwelcoming vestibule where for no apparent reason we had to wait quite long before being seated.