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Alexander van Dülmen

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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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Brunello di Montalcino – Madonna del Piano, 1993

Brunello di Montalcino – Madonna del Piano, Valdicava da Vincenzo Abbruzzese, 1993, Red wine from Italy

7 points

Drinking wine, enjoying wine is so often also an emotional experience. Particularly if it’s a good wine! There are these special moments in life when you know afterwards why life is so beautiful, sometimes so grandiose …. Berlin, one of “the” towns of the world, Friday night, finishing work late, hungry for a “platform” for the transition from a heavy working week to a weekend! Relaxation is needed, but you cannot simply decree this to yourself. Too hyper to sleep, but also too tired to sleep.

Music is another element of emotional cognition. Friendship, too. On a recent Friday night, I rang the bell of Nobelhart & Schmutzig after midnight – a nice welcome, without any attitude like “hey, we are just cleaning up, almost closed, it’s “nice” to see you, but…”. Crossed the cleaned public kitchen area, seated at the bar next to Billy, who asked what I would like. Red. I got Adrianna Occhipinti. Sicilian wine. Wine experts among readers know it, and probably also know that this is a very good wine. I need to write about it, as this is also one of my favorite Italian winemakers. More importantly, someone tries to describe your sentiment, combines it with their own, the wine is in the bottle, and it smells delicious – although you already know it, or is it because you know it?

The restaurant is almost shut down for the night, the rest of the staff leaving, saying good night. Reduced light, the blue reflection of the screen of your friend’s laptop and – excellent music! A conversation among friends is never something about only one subject but so many at the time. A mixture of private, professional, daily, but also long-term things, all at once, slowed down by every sip of wine.

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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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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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Nobelhart & Schmutzig, Restaurant, Berlin (2. report)

Nobelhart & Schmutzig, Restaurant, Berlin, Germany

7,5 points

It’s actually not so long since I wrote about Nobelhart & Schmutzig – please see my last review here: https://avdwineandfood.net/2015/09/18/nobelhart-schmutzig-restaurant-berlin/! The concept of this restaurant is the most radical conceptualization of real regional cuisine; Micha Schäfer and Billy Wagner call it “brutal regional”.

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Bieberbau, Restaurant, Berlin

Bieberbau, Restaurant, Berlin, Germany

6 points

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.

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De Noantri, Restaurant, Berlin

De Noantri, Pizza & Restaurant, Berlin, Germany

6,5 points

3,5 points by Alexander van Dülmen

I am pleased that today my friend and critical supporter Gasper Gabrijelcic shares his view of his – of course – “best pizza of the world”:

I am honored to be only the second guest reviewer to be invited to post a review on Alexander’s blog; his son Balthasar having previously enjoyed this distinction (https://avdwineandfood.net/2015/02/27/arco-antico-pizzaria-san-marco-di-locorotondo/).  Needless to say, pizza is a most unique food – it manages to be many contradictory things simultaneously: very personal, totally ubiquitous, and bitterly contentious. Not only does everyone have their own favorite spot which is also, as Alexander puts it, „the best in the world“ (https://avdwineandfood.net/2016/02/19/pizza-piazza-rossa-berlin/), but these preferences inspire irreconcilable disagreement and occasionally, the desire to „set the record straight.“

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Philippsthal, Restaurant, Philippsthal

Philippsthal, Restaurant, Philippsthal, Germany

5 points

Brandenburg is the “Bundesland” / state which surrounds Berlin. If you leave or arrive in Berlin not by plane you must pass Brandenburg. The very best description of Brandenburg was given ten years ago by German singer and entertainer Rainald Grebe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uellmynA34U. The country is rather poor, empty and very opposite to everything you would connect with Berlin. Forests, lakes, sandy heathlands and agriculture for potatoes and grain are characteristic of this countryside. As much as you could call it cultural a desert you could call it also a culinary desert.

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Angkor Wat, Restaurant, Berlin

Angkor Wat, Cambodian Restaurant, Berlin, Germany

5,5 points

Cambodian Food is different than Vietnamese or Thai. Of course there are many similarities but if you take in consideration how many Vietnamese restaurants there are in Berlin, I think it is important to mention. It is perhaps like Austrians would insists that their cooking is different to the Bavarian way of cooking. For someone coming from Australia or USA it probably is rather difficult to recognize huge differences.

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Pizza “Piazza Rossa”, Berlin

Piazza Rossa, Pizzeria, Berlin, Germany

5 points

Pizza!

Probably one of the most incomparable dinner! Let us be precise: Italian pizza. Is there anyone who never had a pizza? Very seldom I believe.

Almost fast food.

Kid’s food. Family food. Compromising food. Extreme rich in varieties. Pizza with pineapple…..

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The Grand, Restaurant, Berlin

The Grand, Restaurant and Bar, Berlin, Germany

5,5 points

Being asked many times about the best steak house in Berlin I always miss to name “The Grand”. Maybe because it is somehow a “trendy” place for posers of film, music and fashion. This bar and restaurant belongs to hot spots where German celebrities as Til Schweiger party birthday or during fashion weeks hip fashion brands invite for exclusive, very cool events. Am I jealous not being a member of this VIP world or do I hate shallowness? Indeed, I do not like share my time with braggy cockalorums! And a part of The Grand’s target audience are such subjects which leaves one sometimes with an ambivalent feeling!

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Horváth, Restaurant, Berlin

Horváth, Restaurant, Berlin, Germany

7 points

There are two really interesting similarities between Nobelhart & Schmutzig (https://avdwineandfood.net/2015/09/18/nobelhart-schmutzig-restaurant-berlin/) and the restaurant Horvath in Berlin: both had sturgeon and chicken on their menu at their main courses. The philosophy is perhaps not even too different either as both chefs are using local ingredient – vegetables, fishes and meat – almost only out of the region around Berlin a bit farther. The chicken wasn’t from Brandenburg but Schleswig-Holstein, a northern county of Germany.

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