Supper-club hopping in Berlin

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Berlin

Berlin has been called one of the capitals of supper-clubbing, and an online search yields an ever-growing list of options for testing the boundaries of “guerrilla gastronomy”. On a recent visit to the German capital, I had an opportunity to experience not one, but two, of the innovative private dining clubs there. Vegan tiramisu with fresh berries and lavender buds was just one of the dishes that brought on a serious case of “oh my goodness!”

My Potsdam host, anticipating the arrival of her foodie visitor, reserved places for us at the tables of two of Berlin’s “anti-restaurants”. Both turned out to be marvelous examples of the best of the New Berlin: innovative chefs with a penchant for self-expression and artistry. They provided my top food memories of the trip.

Daniel’s Eatery

Daniel’s Eatery is the brainchild of Daniel Grothues, a self-taught chef and gregarious host. Although he hosts private dinners in his apartment in Prenzlauer Berg, the meal we attended was held in a sparsely-but-artfully furnished apartment, its secret location announced by e-mail.

It was a five-course affair. After a get-acquainted cocktail in the lounge, punctuated with rambles to the kitchen to speak with Daniel and observe the proceedings there, we joined the other guests at a long table. Overhead, a feathered chandelier cast bold shadows against the walls; two modern floor lamps of crushed paper were the only other decorations in the room.

Daniel popped in and out between courses, finishing off each part of the meal, pouring wine, telling us about the food on our plates and generally making sure everyone was having a good time. Read more about Daniel in this profile by Mary Scherpe, recently published in Stil in Berlin.

Berlin supper club
At Daniel’s Eatery, each course was a production to be viewed and exclaimed over. From soup to nuts, literally, every dish was lovingly prepared from fresh ingredients, and served with panache. Highlights for me were the personal souffles, a hearty main course of beef with caramelized root vegetables and a topping of pomegranate seeds; and a composed dessert: chocolate mousse piped over flaky pastry and topped with berries and nuts.

b.alive!

At b.alive!, a private dinner club run by Boris Lauser, a trained raw food chef, we experienced more exotic fare, a multi-course menu featuring all vegan raw food.  Our group of eight enjoyed a spritzy water kefir aperitif in preparation for a gourmet meal. As the sun set over Kreuzberg, we gathered around a candle-lit table in full view of kitchen preparations.

Conversation over our dinner table tended to be about the food, with everyone curious as to how such satisfying dishes could be created without actually cooking. Boris was happy to let us in on a few culinary secrets, which just whetted my appetite to learn more. Organic wine was an ideal accompaniment to our meal.

A meal at b.alive is a truly gourmet experience, delivering on its promise of surprising taste discoveries. For background on how Boris works his magic and why, check out what the funtasty adventures blog has to say or watch this recent interview with Ken Spector of HappyCow.

Berlin
Boris Lauser makes extensive use of fermentation and dehydration to achieve textures and intense flavors. Sliced green almonds, seasoned ground-nut cheeses and vegetable foams were just some of the components in our light, satisfying, artful meal.

A supper club in your future?

Supper clubs in Berlin are almost as much about conversation and an exchange of ideas, as they are about food.  Many attendees are, like me, visitors to the city. Others, like my friend in Potsdam, are locals with a penchant for culinary exploration. Each supper club in Berlin offers a unique experience – from a variety of national cuisines, to specialty dietary pursuits, such as the vegan cuisine of b.alive!. Sometimes chefs test new restaurant concepts via the supper club route. For everyone involved–hosts and guests– it’s a great opportunity to meet new people.

Read more about Berlin’s supper club trend, and the people who cook and offer dinners in their homes, galleries, offices, and other private spaces. Don’t live in Berlin? Here is a continuously updated global list of underground restaurants.

Berlin
At Daniel’s Eatery, a savory sorbet was served as a palate cleanser between courses. Nice touch!

 

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