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My instructions to get to dinner last Saturday night in Berlin were a bit sketchy. F&W's always-in-the-know Berlin-based correspondent Gisela Williams had told me to turn down an alley next to the Westin Grand hotel, then look for the garbage dumpsters and an enormous, baroque chandelier illuminating what looked like a warehouse space. Then, I was to look for a cluster of lightbulbs hanging above a nondescript door, climb three stairs, ring the buzzer and announce myself. I felt slightly ridiculous in my hunt for the alley (I must have walked by five times, and in my head, I could hear my mom chastising me for walking down a dark lane alone at night in an unfamiliar city), but there was no missing the chandelier, and once buzzed in I entered a grimy-looking nightclub that I was told would be packed come 3 a.m. I wandered around, following the music upstairs to what is one of Berlin’s coolest new restaurants, Cookies Cream. The rough, cement-walled space felt like a Manhattan loft with its high ceilings, bold red chairs and funky lighting. Morcheeba and Bob Marley set the mellow tone, and by 9 p.m., the room was packed with artsy-looking groups who’d all come to eat deliciously satisfying vegetarian food—pumpkin-lime soup with chutney, roasted cashews and curry; parmesan dumplings with Amalfi-lemon sauce; polenta with a liquid garlic–rocket filling and roasted ceps. Michael Kempf, the Michelin-starred chef from Facil, collaborated on the menu. Guests can walk around the enormous open kitchen and ask the boyish-looking executive chef, Stephan Hentsch, questions. At just 28 euros for three courses, this was another great deal.
The restaurant within a nightclub scene is a growing trend here, according to Gisela. Bar Tausend is also rumored to be opening a restaurant behind its bar this week. The über-hot bar is another hidden gem, located under a railway along a river with no sign, not even a light, at its door. The Foodists will be offering a menu (to those savvy enough to get a reservation) of modern German food to go with the excellent cocktails.