I admit, I'm a bit of a food snob, but not at all where money is concerned. In fact, I tend to be put-off by really expensive meals and instead opt for street food at inexpensive spots with super tasty, authentic dishes to satisfy my desire for the delicious without breaking the bank. With so many great casual and affordable places to eat in Berlin, I never really thought much about the fine-dining experience until my fellow gluten-intolerant and food-loving friend Christie came to visit. Tim Raue was on her must-visit list and with a set lunch starting at 38€, our first visit in over a year and a surprisingly affordable menu for two-star Michelin cuisine was reason enough to indulge.
With very little gluten-containing items on the menu, we still inquired as to what could be done for us beforehand and were told it wouldn't be a problem at all. It's no surprise that such an acclaimed restaurant is going to take food allergies pretty seriously. After all, that's a pretty long way to fall if people start calling you out for making them terribly sick. Not surprisingly, my much-anticipated visit to this mecca of amazing cuisine left me safe from glutening - and a serious penchant for the finer things in life.
The food here is described as "Asian-inspired cuisine that can be characterised as a blend of Japanese product perfection, Thai aromas, and Chinese culinary philosophy." You will find no bread, noodles or rice, nor any white sugar. They work only with lactose-free dairy items, but animal products are in nearly every dish. While they say they will make vegetarian alternatives, they "cannot offer vegan guests the same taste experience" (read: you're not letting our dishes live up their potential, so why bother). It always warms my heart when chefs stick to their beliefs with what they cook, but are at least willing to compromise for those of us who have no choice in what we cannot eat.
The restaurant itself is tucked back in a little courtyard off Rudi-Dunker-Strasse, with even the front facing the street so understated, we nearly missed it on our arrival. After our coats were taken and we were lead to our table, we breathed a little sigh of relief at the attire we'd fretted over that morning. The servers were all wearing either dark slim t-shirts or button-down shirts with black jeans and Converse sneakers. Perfect Berlin causal, but exuding a quiet elegance appropriate of the venue.
The tables were similarly simple and chic, with white linen tablecloths hung across and through small slits at the edges of the tables. The rich blue banquettes and light blue curtains were streamlined and simple, cool yet giving off a warm, calming vibe. Overall, I was feeling redeemed for the jeans I was wearing and it was just when I realized there were only chopsticks in front of me when they brought the amuse bouches that I started panicking with visions of accidentally flinging a cashew at someone's head at a neighboring table. Thankfully, with my increasing dexterity and the warmth of the staff that was perfectly happy to speak in German or English, or in our case, a bit of both, I was put right at ease - and kept my food at our table.
I won't bore you with the details of every single thing I tasted or every minute detail of our experience, because honestly, I was too busy trying to snap as many unobnoixious iPhone photos before diving into whatever heavenly thing was put in front of me next to take copious notes. I will say the experience - and more importantly, the food - far exceeded my expectations. Not surprisingly, it's the kind of place where everything you taste isn't just good, it's one of the best preparations of said item you have ever tasted. That is, unless you're used to eating at Michelin-starred restaurants on the regular, in which case, I hate you.
The menu here changes often enough, so I would recommend just ordering the first thing that sounds good to you. Or better yet, order something that doesn't sound like what you normally would and chances are you will be blown away. I am a notorious seafood avoider, but I sprung for the langoustine for my first course and it might have been the most delicious thing from the sea I've ever tasted. The same with the mango-based dessert - not my favorite fruit, but the flavors and the way they danced and played together on my tongue was nothing short of amazing.
One thing worth noting is the peking duck speciality - which unfortunately is served on some kind of bread slice, so I was unable to try it. My husband shook his head in affirmation after each bite, telling me it took him back to the incredible duck we'd had at a vineyard wedding in Bordeaux a few summers back. Side note (and I've had other friends confirm this): if you ever get invited to a wedding in France, move heaven and earth to go. It will be some of the best food you will ever eat.
With no alcohol and our modest three-course lunches, the bill was around 200€, still a serious splurge for the likes of us. Even so, we weren't treated as anything less than the well-dressed business men around us who clearly ordered everything on the menu. I would love to return for a special dinner, but honestly, with many of the same offerings on the evening menu, why not have the fancy lunch instead for a fraction of the price? Another bonus: Foodie pics come out so much better in the bright afternoon light! I'm already thinking of celebrating my birthday here in the fall...
Restaurant Tim Raue
U6 Kockstrasse/Checkpoint Charlie
Tel: 030 25937930
Online reservations through booktable.de
Be sure to check out Christie's post on Tim Raue and other gluten-free eating she enjoyed while in Berlin!