Berlin's Big Food Trend

By Jen Murphy Posted March 11, 2010

Michael Hoffman

© Photo Courtesy of Restaurant Margaux
Chef Michael Hoffman

I’m in Berlin this week, and in between business meetings I’ve had some extraordinary meals. One surprise: In a city I normally associate with Wiener schnitzel and currywurst, tons of restaurants are offering really interesting vegetarian options. Chef Michael Hoffman of the Michelin-starred restaurant Restaurant Margaux is perhaps the city’s biggest vegetable champion; he even has a cookbook dedicated entirely to cooking with herbs (an English version is in the works) and a second vegetable-centric cookbook in the pipeline. He and his lovely wife, Kathrin, who runs the front of the house at Margaux, recently planted gardens in nearby greenhouses so they can source vegetables and herbs year round. Hoffman promotes his seven-course vegetarian tasting menu with equal, if not greater, enthusiasm than his regular tasting menu. I was truly impressed with dishes like a seaweed salad with candied lemon and ginger, jus of pumpkin and lime and a savory baked “sushi” of pumpkin and couscous (pumpkin and couscous wrapped sushi-style in a superthin layer of phyllo dough). And his sommelier was up to the tricky challenge of finding perfect vegetable-friendly wines (the remarkable 600-plus-bottle wine list is nearly 70-percent German) with choices like the 2006 Weingut Bernhard Eifel Barriques Weisser Burgunder from the Mosel.

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