The locavore organic trend came late to Berlin, which didn’t have much to harvest before the Wall came down in 1989. Now, young farmers are cultivating the forests and fields of Brandenburg (formally part of East Germany), and small restaurants like Lokal can source everything from fresh celeriac and kohlrabi to several varieties of cabbage. Chef-partner Gary Hoopengardner, an American, focuses more on taste than visual appeal, serving seasonal comfort food that crosses cultures. The menu changes daily, and is posted on the website every morning. The choices reflect not only the seasons but also Hoopengardner’s whims, which might mean a handmade pasta with goose ragù or a pastrami sandwich. The decor is eclectic, too: chairs with the occasional sheep wool throw, wooden floors, glass lanterns and handmade wood tables.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.