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Wine and Food

Alexander van Dülmen

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Restaurant

Panama, Restaurant, Berlin

Panama, Restaurant, Berlin, Germany

6,5 points

6 points by Alexander van Dülmen

IMG-20170509-WA0001I am pleased that my friend and acclaimed script-writer Elisabeth Bartel accepted my invitation not only for a dinner at Panama but also to write her first review on my blog. 

Working on a screenplay with the word “Panama” in the title, it was kind of obvious that “Panama”, a fairly new restaurant in Berlin’s center, would be the ideal fit for dinner. Already when you enter the enchanted back yard, off a busy stretch of Potsdamer Straße, you feel you have come to a special place. We were lead to the second floor, which houses the main part of the mid-size restaurant with the half-open kitchen behind large glass windows. The atmosphere is bright and easy going but also quite loud, catering to a younger, international crowd.

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Augustiner Klosterwirt, Gasthaus (Restaurant) München

Gasthaus / Restaurant Klosterwirt, München, Germany

Points 5,5

There are days when you just want  a nice Currywurst or a Doner, but not a great dinner at a Michelin star restaurant. Food depends on mood, as does what we drink, in many cases. Right after a satisfying soccer game played by my team, FC Bayern München, a friend invited me to a classic Munich Gasthaus: Augustiner Klosterwirt, right near Munich’s landmark Frauenkirche. This was a nice choice on his part: the mood of the place is very busy, almost like in a beer hall, but with excellent, fast service and perfect quality. Since my visit to Munich was at the right time, we had so-called Starkbier (according to leo.org the best translation aside from strong beer seems to be stout), a dark beer containing more wort and alcohol than usual. There are officially two weeks of Starkbierzeit – so two weeks of stout – during that time, Munich brewers offers this special beer; something very Bavarian if not very specific to Munich. These two weeks are not always the same two weeks every year – all linked to the catholic “Josefitag” – a day in honor of St. Josef, the husband of virgin Maria, mother of Jesus. Continue reading “Augustiner Klosterwirt, Gasthaus (Restaurant) München”

Bandol sur Mer, Restaurant, Berlin

Bandol sur Mer, Restaurant, Berlin, Germany

7 points

In German, we have the word „Kulinarik“. The German language contains so many substantives that describe a very specific thing very precisely. Translating this word into English is a challenge, and I am curious to know how any reader of this blog who speaks German and English would translate it. According to leo.org, one of the best online dictionaries, I should use the term “culinary art”. Although I don’t really think that this is a correct description of my understanding of “Kulinarik”, I like very much that it connects it with art. This said, Berlin’s Kulinarik has such great variety, incomparable with many other places in the world. Perhaps only New York and Chicago. A Michelin star punk restaurant, probably possible only in Berlin!

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Sushi Girl, Street Food, Hanalei

Sushi Girl, Hanalei, Kauai, USA

5 points

This Sushi place really represents the attitude toward life in the northern part of Hawaii’s greenest island Kauai. Chilled, relaxed, stress-free and unbelievably friendly. The real Sushi Girl is Taylor Lowe who runs this very tiny place, which is listed in many guides and has an impressive internet presence. Actually, there aren’t even many restaurants, food shops, or fast food places between Hanalei and Wainiha, the last housing estate before the Hanea State Park and the start of famous Kalalau Trail. You either own or rent a house in this area – most  people are there on vacation – or else you pass the place on your way along the northern coast of Kauai.

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Melisse, Restaurant, Santa Monica

Melisse, Restaurant, Santa Monica, USA

7 points

Let me begin with perhaps an unfair quote: This restaurant is cursedly expensive. This is quite a controversial statement since passionate chefs, engaged restaurant entrepreneurs, and audacious sommeliers all have to calculate very carefully: top quality, super fresh, preferably organic vegetables, fish, seafood, meat and other ingredients, and exotic or rare fruits. Regional does not automatically mean less expensive, since the work and desire of farmers, fishermen, and cultivators is the same almost everywhere on the planet. Raising organic shrimp in Vietnam is probably cheaper than in Louisiana – but causes pollution due to long transport distances. And how many hours does a chef spend just on thinking, testing, and creating a new dish? And to what end? Isn’t it well known that salaries in the field of gastronomy are rather low? In the US, tips are a crucial part of the income of any server.

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Restaurant Sassafraz, Toronto

Restaurant Sassafraz, Toronto, Canada

5,5 points

Sassafraz is an intelligent combination of a French café and restaurant in the middle of Toronto’s affluent neighborhood Yorkville.

Due to my profession, I travel yearly to Toronto. This year I chose some restaurants for business dinners, but also to test them out. How did I found this place? It is listed on some internet sites as one of the best restaurants in Toronto. Of course, I could have asked some of my friends from Toronto – but I like to follow such recommendations although they are very often not the best ones. My visit to Sassafraz was not a bad experience, although it was not superb either.

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Quán Cơm Gà Thượng Hải, Restaurant, Ho Chi Minh City

Quán Cơm Gà Thượng Hải, Restaurant, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

6,5 points

Food in Vietnam is wonderful and much more diverse than you might experience traveling through this Southeast Asian country. In particular, as a tourist you may end up in rather – from a touristic perspective – popular locations. I guess travel agencies and hotels have arrangements with certain places, like for instance one of my favorite restaurants in Hanoi, the Four Season (https://avdwineandfood.net/2015/04/15/four-season-restaurant-hanoi/). However, there is obviously much more to discover. All kinds of street food anyhow. Restaurants meant only for locals, for the establishment, some with a modern western style, others more like a typical cantina (the Vietnamese version of fast food). Aside from of all these, there are a few around the country with particular traditions – sometimes because they offer specialties that you cannot find anywhere else or because of their concept and simply, how long they have been around. Remember my review about Bánh tôm Hồ Tây (Bánh tôm Hồ Tây, Seafood Restaurant, Inn and Biergarten, Hanoi) at the West Lake in Hanoi. This is one of the oldest and most famous places in Hanoi.

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Nhà Hàng Hương Xưa, Restaurant, Ho Chi Minh City

Nhà Hàng Hương Xưa, Restaurant, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

5,5 points

While writing this review, I am expecting protest. I had the turtle! Yes! It is taboo and forbidden in many regions of the world. Actually, it depends on the species of turtle – certain types are strictly protected; for others it seems that eating them is allowed. Like many other countries, Vietnam has implemented official protection and prevention programs due to the fact that authorities, left to their own, don’t enforce their own laws strongly enough. Poaching is also certainly an issue in Vietnam in particular, since there is such a great demand in China for forbidden and really exotic animals.

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Michael’s Restaurant, New York

Michael’s Restaurant, New York, USA

5 points

If you like to see expensive, ugly outfits and dresses, go to “Michael’s” in New York. Tasteless but certainly posh combinations of grey and light blue, unsuitable suits, tight rose sport coats with beige trousers…  and most of the guests aren’t young and beautiful either – wealthy bankers, elder show hosts and politicians – a sophisticated New York cosmos which, as an outsider, you might not experience very often. “Look, there’s the former Secretary of the Treasury! And he’s having lunch with …” Michael’s restaurant is a sort of institution in New York, which most inhabitants have heard of but perhaps have never been to. As a foreigner, you wouldn’t even know about it. It is located in a midtown business district. Continue reading “Michael’s Restaurant, New York”

Einsunternull, Restaurant, Berlin

Einsunternull, Restaurant, Berlin, Germany

5,5 points

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.

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Dolphin, Restaurant, Hanalei

PlDolphin, Restaurant, Hanalei, Kauai, USA

5,5 points

Housed in one of the few older buildings in Hanalei, Dolphin is a combination of restaurant, tavern and sushi bar. Fame and legend – both expressions are connected to this fish restaurant — which feels like it’s almost at the end of the world. If all ends of the earth are as beautiful as Hanalei Bay, I would travel more. Jonathan Deckter, who strongly encouraged me to go to Dolphin, was completely right about it. It is a great place: rather easy, half open-air, since it’s never cold at Kauai – and a half-open kitchen, plus some outside seating on the surrounding grass. Continue reading “Dolphin, Restaurant, Hanalei”

Providence, Restaurant, Los Angeles

Providence, Restaurant, Los Angeles, USA

7 points

Simply put: this is the best restaurant I’ve encountered so far in Los Angeles. How many years have I been coming to Los Angeles and eating bad or what I’d call just decent food? Even when friends have invited me out somewhere – and of course they always mean very well – they’ve brought me to loud either show-offy event places or simply to uninspiring restaurants.

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