Checkup Dinner at N.Q.14, Sunday 16 March 2008
Often I hear people denounce ratings such as Michelin Stars, Parker Points, etc, and sometimes I can understand why. Achieving such recognition just seems to be an excuse for bumping up the price of a dinner or a bottle of wine. But one has to witness the effort involved in making the grade, especially for fledgling restaurants, like the one we are planning to visit this month, N.Q.14 Noiquattro, Südstern 14 (Ecke Lilienthalstraße), 10965 Berlin-Kreuzberg. The people there seem to like the number 14 for some strange reason, though it's a number that I personally am not too keen on as that was the age when I discovered girls, or vice versa. Oh well.
Anyway, they have a special dinner menu this month there, inclusive of wines, for a few cents under 50 Euro. The cook there (whose name escapes me at the moment) was the sous chef at Vau and his intent is get himself a Michelin Star for N.Q.14, so I thought it would be a nice idea to check up on his progress. The history of the place is a little confused. There was a NoiQuattro in Strausbergerplatz several years ago which was an excellent place (even though I am not generally the greatest fan of Italian food) but it closed down for some reason. But this new restaurant has the same website name and so presumably is a resurrection of the original NQ. Anyway, I hope so, for the original is a great place for dinner, and not a few people would have shed a tear or two at its passing. If you want to check out the new N.Q.14, the website is http://www.noiquattro.de.
The wines and courses on offer for us is the following (and you won't see it on their website):
2006 Weißburgunder, Kellerei Kurtatsch
Roulade & Mousse vom Kaninchen mit Traubenchutney und Pinienkernwaffel
2006 Verdicchio di Matelica, Vigneto del Cerro
Scampiravioli mit Ananas & Fenchelhonigschaum
2006 Erbaluce di Caluso "La Rustia", Orsolani
Saltimbocca von der Wachtelbrust mit Artischockenpürre & Vanilleöl
2003 Lagrein "Freienfeld", Kellerei Kurtatsch
Geschmortes vom Lamm mit Oliven-Kartoffelstrudel, Saubohnen & Lorbeerjus
2006 Moscato d'Asti
Pannacotta von Macarpone & Tonkabohnen mit jungem Rhabarber & Erdbeersorbet
Please note that places for this dinner are really very, very limited, so we will definitely have to use the electronic hat again for our selection. Saturdays were completely booked out, so we can only get 8 places in total for Sunday, 16th March 2008, and this time, the dinner starts at 19:00, instead of our usual 20:00 as some people, unlike me, have to be at work early Monday morning. So, if you want to come along and check out a (potential) Michelin star in the making, please do drop an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Oh, and please note that the closing date is Sunday 9th March 2008. Earlier replies get a higher ranking during selection, so it does help to send in your replies early. After that, I'll send an email out early the following week to all those that got a confirmed place for the dinner.
See you soon!
PS. This is a good book: http://endlessuniverse.net/
How it went on the night...
Actually, it went very well indeed! It was a nice comfy group of people who were interesting, chatty and the menu lived up to its billing for once. The cook even came out to inspect us around midnight because we were having so much fun! Anyway, any recap of the dinner must mention that 3 out of the 5 wines are, at best, adequate, with the red rather unpalatable along with first 2 whites which were rather flat. The starter had some lovely textures although I remain a trifle skeptical about the use of vanilla-flavoured oil. The scampiravioli next was presented well and tastes really fine and juicy before we returned to the vanilla theme again with the quail, which was delicious and definitely worth a second helping but somehow I feel that the vanilla oil and the potato puree did not really meld so well. The lamb was done the German way, ie. well-casseroled, cooked past death, but it still was really the best example of overcooked lamb that I've come across for a long time. The dessert was done with a fine flourish, and tasted nice enough, and matched the menu well. And as Anne pointed out, the dessert wine was really wonderful, subtly sweet with strong hints of juicy pears and apples. A cosy place which I would highly recommend for family and friends who like good food. By the way, there is also a trattoria at N.Q.14 with a semi-open kitchen and that looks like it might also be a nice fun place to try out.