Collection Culinaire: Tasting October
We choose a seat next to the window, where we can enjoy the last of the dying sun and watch the passersby scurrying to and from the famous Kurfürstendamm boulevard. The champagne arrives and Jack, my date for the evening, starts to tell me all about his recent visit to England. My eyes wander past his shoulder to the painting by Katrin Kampmann hanging behind the polished glass and white wines on ice; the subjects are enjoying a picnic, in Katrin’s trademark vibrant palette. Although the setting is much less formal, the painting reflects the restaurant’s conviviality. My stomach starts to rumble. Right on cue, the waitress arrives with the amuse-bouche, or “greetings from the kitchen” as they say over here: a spear of marinated duck and wild fig, with chanterelle crème brûlée and a wafer-thin polenta chip on top.
I excuse myself and nip off to the kitchen to return the ”greetings”. I find Steffen and team hard at work, so I navigate my way around the hot stoves and sharp knives to take a peek at the next course; tuna and monkfish cheeks with bouillabaisse, passe pierre, carrots, and those all-important fresh herbs. Everything looks and smells delicious back here, so, to avoid temptation and/or injury, I make my way back to our table.
Before long, the waiter arrives to introduce the first wine of the night: a 2011 Noer Rosabella. “This month,” he explains, “the motto is: German wine meets Collection Culinaire. There are so many great German wines out there. This rosé is a perfect example,” I take a sip and nod in agreement – it’s pleasantly tart, with a subtle raspberry note. “The Noer winemerchants is actually located in Berlin, in Kreuzberg, to be precise.” He disappears into the kitchen and brings out two plates of the starter I had seen being prepared earlier; cracked black rice sprinkled over the top completes the dish, giving the soft tuna and monkfish cheeks a satisfying crunch.
We move straight onto the next course: beef consommé with lamb canelloni, broad beans – a vegetable which always makes me think winter isn’t so bad after all – and basil. The waiter pours a thin broth over the neat little package at the centre of my bowl, as I inhale its comforting aroma. The course is paired with a 2011 Kiefer pinot blanc, which tastes like green apples and autumn.
The time has come for the pièce de résistance, the main course: veal filet and cheek, sautéed red onions, apple and pointed cabbage. It arrives on large white plates, the gravy poured artistically across the two towers of tender meat and vegetables. The waiter brings out a delicious merlot, a 2011 Noer William, to accompany the food. Silence descends upon the table until the plates are clean and Jack is sitting back in his chair looking rather pleased with himself, “did I ever tell you how much I like being friends with you?”
We select our cheeses from the trolley as the waiter fills our glasses with a fruity Riesling, a 2011 Wilhelm Nikolai. Our individual selections arrive back from the kitchen, beautifully arranged alongside truffle and orange mayonnaise, and the bread basket is refilled.
By this point, I’m wondering whether I have space for dessert. That is, until it arrives at the table and I see that October’s dessert consists of scones crumbled over jellied rooibos, sour cream, raisins and lime sorbet. Good scones are hard to come by in Germany, but these ones easily meet the standards of two homesick Brits. The dessert is served, not with wine as is normally the case, but with a glass of “dancing raisins” – a cocktail made from German prosecco, rooibos tea infusion and a couple of rum and vanilla-soaked raisins, bobbing up and down in the glass. “We created it especially to go with the dessert,” the waiter beams. We round the meal off with espressos, thank our friendly waiter and head towards the U-Bahn with a warm glow, despite the rotten weather.
If you like the sound of this month’s menu, simply click here to reserve yourself a table, but don’t leave it too long – a new month and a new Collection Culinaire will be along before you know it.