We reach the last of my posts on my recent trip to Berlin (my other posts were on Henne and Cafe Anna Blume. When researching for this trip I was looking to find establishments that represented the best of traditional German cooking. One dish that I was keen to eat, although not necessarily German, was a Wiener Schnitzel; the name gives it away somewhat as an Austrian dish – but it has become a staple part in German cooking.
Lots and lots of places claim to have the “best Wiener Schnitzel in Berlin”, however I picked a restaurant that seemed to have a particularly well established reputation for its Schnitzel – Lutter und Wegner on Gendarmenmarkt (a particularly beautiful part of Berlin that in Christmas time has a delightful Christmas Market). Lutter and Wegner was founded in 1811 and is famous for a number of reasons, most interestingly for me was that it is supposedly the place where the word “Sekt” (German sparkling wine) originated following a misunderstanding with the actor Ludwig Devrient who used a Shakespearean word “Sack” when asking for some sherry; the waiter unsure what to bring Devrient brought him some sparkling wine. Devrient continued to refer to sparkling wine from then on in this manner and it eventually became known as Sekt… apparently!
The restaurant itself has some very interesting decorations as you walk in, with unusual art pieces set around the restaurant (including some rather modern works), which contrast the rather grand settings of the building itself.
To start this meal I went for a starter that was on their seasonal specials list Bärlauchsuppe (wild garlic soup), which contained some of the most intense garlic flavour that I have ever tried. I loved it, my wife was not so impressed with it…
Then on to the main event, the Wiener Schnitzel. It arrived at the table with great flourish and I was slightly taken aback when it arrived – it was huge, taking up pretty much all of the plate! The crumb around the edge was golden all over with a very impressive uniformity to its colour. The veal it contained within was deliciously moist and juicy, with a surprising lightness to it. The little blast of acidity from the wedge of lemon that sat alongside it was rather welcome. It was served with a sad little potato and cucumber salad which didn’t really warrant a photograph. I can’t really comment as to whether this really constituted the best Wiener Schnitzel in Berlin (more research is required on this front), but I can say that this was the best one that I have ever had.
On the wine front I had an interesting evening. Lutter and Wegner is also famous as a wine shop and they had a wine menu that any fan of German wine would be very excited by. My eye was drawn to a particular 1990 Riesling Kabinett from Mosel from what looked like a good site at what seemed to be a very reasonable price. 1990 was an auspicious year in German history and I was hoping that it was also a good year for wine too. I was surprised, however, to see a Riesling Kabinett that was so old. The staff took a long time to find the bottle in question (I can only assume that it was deep down somewhere in the cellar) and the waitress opened it with some trepidation. I was offered a sample and was instantly crestfallen to find that the wine was indeed ten to fifteen years past its best. This is always an awkward situation to be in, but I discussed it with the sommelier and we agreed that I could select another bottle. I went for the 2012 Balthasar Ress Erstes Gewächs Hattenheim Nussbrunnen Riesling (Rheingau) – I felt that a younger wine would be a much safer bet. I think we all breathed a collective sigh of relief when I confirmed that this was just what I had in mind, apricot jam, honeycomb and a hint of petroleum on the nose with honeydew melon, crunchy pear and a touch of lemon on the mid-palate which combined to form a balanced and pleasing wine. Quality 6.5; Value 7.0.
This marks the end of another successful gastronomic excursion to Berlin. Now I start planning for my trip to Bordeaux in June…!