Beech Dinner at Gutshof Britz, Sat 5 May 2012
Those who know me will recall that I am a simple, literary sort of guy - for example, in Cantonese, "chee seen" means "crossed wires", an indication of crass stupidity or general insanity. And so I always thought Buchholz translated to "book wood" or stuff to make bookshelves from. However, it transpires that it actually means beech, a specie of deciduous trees from the Fagaceae family and its uses include making Budweiser beer and drying malts for German smoked beers. But... I'm afraid I am digressing.
What I really want to say is that, while the Italians and the French have a passably good standard of cuisine in general, I find that it is often in Germany that modern gourmet food is done to an exacting and consistent level, with little room for error or mucking about. Much of what comes out of modern gourmet German restaurants is truly excellent fare - inventive, perfectly cooked and generally well-rounded meals. And it always confounds me why so few places in Germany have top Michelin stars, if indeed, the main criteria are superior cooking and impeccable service as they claim. And a good wine list as well - a major stumbling block for many noodle and curry stalls here in the Far East.
So without further ado, please be infprmed that May's dinner will be at the Gutshof Britz. This new restaurant is an upcoming candidate for multiple Michelin stars in Berlin - for it is run by Matthias Buchholz, the legendary cook who kept the First Floor at the Palace Hotel one of the top dining locations in town for many years. He has now gone out on his own, creating a much more affordable dining venue where prices are moderate and food is always the best of the season's produce. As the ingredients of his meals there are of the best quality, starters range from 5-12 Euro and mains from 11-28 Euro with some exceptional dishes costing a bit more - believe me, this is really quite excellent value for money from a Michelin-starred chef (and cheaper than some meals I have had here).
The date for the dinner is Saturday, 5 May so do check your diary now for a free dinner slot that evening. The address is Alt-Britz 81, 12359 Berlin - close enough to Britzer Gardens for a idle relaxed stroll before the dinner. And if you are free that night, please email Sylvia as soon as you can for a place at this dinner (do NOT send booking emails to me please). Oh, and please note that the closing date is Tuesday, 1 May. Sylvia will let you know very soon after the closing date, more details of the restaurant and where to meet up before dinner.
Simply put, this is a dinner for people who enjoy and appreciate food as evidenced by reviews such as
I really wish I can attend the May dinner - some years ago, I had attended a cooking class with Matthias and he is indeed a great chef. Regrettably though, I have to continue to dine at places over here for a little while longer. To see what I mean, well, have a look at http://www.makanakam.com if you dare.
Chris (on behalf of Sylvia)
How it went on the night...
We were glad that everybody made it to the restaurant as it was not so easy to hunt down and it is situated quite a long way away from public transport. On the plus side, we were offered our own little private room for our dinner and the table was really nicely laid out - the place had style. As there was no music we had entertain ourselves talking about the upcoming soccer matches and I learned a lot about different drinking behaviours at work in other countries (although, of course, I don't drink myself - but I know someone who does). That was lot of fun.
They then brought us some bread with a sort of a herb cream. Nothing special but still good. After that our starters came even though I was hoping for an amuse bouche at this kind of restaurant. At the moment, as it is asparagus season, some dishes came with it. They explained that they use only asparagus from the Palatinate area as it apparently has a more intensive and better taste. I bet that lots of Berliners might choose to disagree and to be honest I did not taste a huge difference to the excellent asparagus from the Beelitz area. But what do I know? All the dishes were pretty yummy and perfectly cooked as you would expect from a former Michelin star cook. In general, the wines were quiet pricey but they had a very good selection of grapes.
So overall , the verdict is that this is a very good place to take your friends or family out for dinner, preferably after a stroll around the rather pretty Britzer Garden which is close by.