Eating {gluten-free} in Berlin | Tim Raue

July 24, 2015

I was a firm believer that cheese was not a dessert... until Tim Raue
Tim Raue dessert shaved cheese with apricots and pecans

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 amazing amuse bouches before we even ordered... and the equally intriguing and delicious
end to the meal - a mix of cold, crunchy fennel with pear

Tim Raue amuse bouches pickled veggies, sausages and spicy cashews Tim Raue final sweet course fennel pear pudding

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.

Lush banquettes and modern simplicity at Tim Raue
Restaurant Tim Raue interior

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.

The most delicious - and expensive - fancy French juice I've ever enjoyed
Tim Raue French madarin juice

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.

Seafood at its finest: Langoustines with wasabi-crisped rice, a gluten-free substitution just for me
Tim Raue langoustine with wasabi crisp rice

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.

My dessert, a mango-saffron dream complete with crunchy dehydrated lime slices
Tim Raue dessert with mangos saffron and dehydrated limes

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.

Christie's beautiful strawberries, the perfect flavor and texture combinations
Tim Raue dessert strawberries with basil and ice cream

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
Rudi-Dutschke-Straße 26
10969 Berlin-Kreuzberg
U6 Kockstrasse/Checkpoint Charlie
Tel: 030 25937930
Online reservations through

Be sure to check out Christie's post on Tim Raue and other gluten-free eating she enjoyed while in Berlin!

Summer Shoe Checklist: The 5 Must-Have Pairs

July 15, 2015

Summer Shoe Checklist: The 5 Pairs You Need

The start of summer can so often be marked by that first day your toes see the sunshine after what has felt like an eternity crammed into winter boots. There's something about kicking your shoes off, letting your toes dance through the grass and bask in the warm sunshine that means it's officially summer. Every year there's a fresh crop of new strappy sandals, playful flats and summer sneakers to pick from, but really, there are only five basic styles that will get you through the season with happy feet. Just add pedicure.

1. Saltwaters

If you grew up in America, these sandals were synonymous with childhood summers. Well, all those parents were onto something. Lightweight, durable and, as the name implies, waterproof, these are some of the best all-purpose summer shoes out there. In the U.S., you can find them at places like Zappos and My Saltwater Sandals (where I always ordered from), but they have also launched a European Saltwater site for those of us across the pond - hooray! Here in Berlin, you can pick them up at Victoria Met Albert. Wherever you get them, trust me, you won't be sorry! Tip: Order your regular shoe size, not your sandal size.

2. Birks

I realize some people still have not gotten on the Birkenstock train, and that's fine. I understand 'ugly-pretty' can be a tough sell. But these babies have been around for decades and they're not going anywhere, so why not take advantage of their popularity? The comfort factor, coupled with the Made in Germany factor (read: affordable here), means I have five pairs already - a couple Gizeh and a few Arizona - including this summery bronze pair as my most recent addition to the Birks club in my closet. Birks can be found everywhere in Germany, from fashion-forward shops like & Other Stories to online mega retailers like Zalando to our own little Birkenstock shop here in Mitte - but my secret? Online at Natürlich are some of the best prices I've seen here. The stock moves quickly each season, so buy early. As for those in the U.S., I guess you're stuck with paying over $100-200 a pair *gulp* at places like J.Crew... until you visit Germany!

There is much debate about Birkentstock sizing. The official website say to order your regular size to make sure your feet have plenty of room to wiggle in the formed bottoms, but I end up literally falling out of my regular size so have go one down. Some pairs require more breaking in and rub more than others at the heel or toes because of this, but I'd rather be secure in my shoes than tripping any more than I regularly do.

3. Flip-flops

Whether your stance on the most casual of summer footwear is suitable for everyday wear or more relegated to the beach/pool (I fall staunchly in the latter category), no summer shoe wardrobe is complete without a pair or three. For the last several years, my favorite has been the cheap Old Navy version, perfect to stock up on have around for summer house shoes, trips to the pool or that blissful beach vacation. I've even enlisted my next US houseguest to bring me a few pairs! While I almost always size down in flip-flops, I've found these run more true-to-size.

4. Wedges

Summer means more to do outside, more traipsing around and if you're lucky, some lovely sunny holidays with lots of traipsing around somewhere by the sea. With all this walking, I find nothing works better than a solid wedge for support in a shoe that looks a bit elevated from a rubber flip-flop. It's something nice to wear to museums or to dinner without looking like the tourist that you are. I have a couple pairs from Clarks and they are some of the best sandals I own. Once you sift through the matronly styles, there are some definite winners. I've got the pair above currently on order from a flash sale site and I am anxiously awaiting its arrival... The U.S. has an even bigger range of Clarks and its sub-brands (artisan, unstructured, indigo, etc.), but I've found nothing beats the regular UK Clarks. Unfortunately, they do run a bit small compared to standard US and EU sizing.

5. Slip-on sneakers

Sometimes you need more of a shoe, even in the summertime. Something you can kick off while you're arms are full of picnic supplies and won't leave pebbles between your toes after trekking to a lake. While classic Vans have made a big comeback in recent years, I've been a fan of the lower-profile, super-affordable ones from H&M recently. If I get caught in a summer rainstorm (pretty common here), I don't feel too bad about getting them covered in muck. Another bonus? They run big so I can actually find a size that fits (still rallying for the size 42: H&M, COS, & Other Stories, are you listening?!). Pick up a few when they go on sale and you've got it made.

Here's to summer!