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© Jen Murphy
Full-moon water at Little Otik, Berlin.
On a recent trip to Berlin, Food & Wine's plugged-in European correspondent Gisela Williams took me and some of the crew from Tasting Table to one of her favorite new restaurants, Little Otik. The bearded servers, hipster crowd, craft cocktails and seriously awesome, locavore-minded cooking instantly transported me to Williamsburg. I later discovered that the owners, Kevin Avery and Jeffrey Sfire, are Manhattan transplants: Sfire is a DJ and Avery is a former chef at Williamsburg's beloved Diner and Greenpoint's now-closed Queen's Hideaway. When they moved to Berlin two years ago, they caused a buzz with once-a-month dinners for 10 at their Palisaden Supper Club. Last August, they opened Little Otik (named after the Czech surrealist film by Jan and Eva Svankmajerová) in the Kreuzberg neighborhood. Only open Wednesday to Saturday, here are five good reasons even Brooklynites would be happy to make the trip:
1) Little Otik works with a resident hunter who brings in wild game like venison, wild goat, rabbit and the boar Avery uses to make a fantastic ragù with eryngii mushrooms and polenta.
2) Vegetables carry equal weight on the menu, with mains like a chick pea, farro and rapini stew and nearly a half-dozen vegetarian sides like cauliflower with tahini and a killer pickle plate.
3) Avery is a dessert master. Alice Waters might weep over his prune-and-Armagnac ice cream topped with a hazelnut cookie.
4) Its self-published, quarterly fanzine is brilliant and hysterical, sharing Little Otik recipes as well as oddball humor, like food quotes from the '90s sitcom Roseanne.
5) The humor extends to the menu, which offers "full-moon water" (water bottled during the full moon).