When I was in Berlin last December, Tiffany, Kristin and I had a lovely four-course meal at Noto, a small, brand-new restaurant in Tiffany’s building. Not only was the food great and the atmosphere cozy, we sat across from the open kitchen and had fun watching the chef, who seemed to be putting on a show just for us (or so we liked to think). Clearly he was pleased that we were excited about the food. There were a few kinks, but we chalked them up to the restaurant having just opened.
This time around, we were seated up front, and everything seemed a bit more established. I guess that’s what you’d expect from a restaurant that has been open several months, although there was definitely something exciting about the newness back in December. Timing was the biggest problem back then, and unfortunately it remains a problem. We waited an hour for our first course – Kristin had to scarf down the bread and delicious green olive butter (I know, sounds weird, right?) to keep from passing out.
We were rewarded for our patience when our first course finally arrived: a tomato-based soup with clams, squid and head-on shrimp. The soup was similar to cioppino or bouillabaisse, just smaller and with only three kinds of seafood. I think it was the best course of the night. The distribution of seafood could have been better – I had just two clams, one of which was closed (one of my pet peeves at restaurants), while Tiffany had a pile of shells left over and only one piece of squid.
Our second course arrived an hour later: beef carpaccio and “wild” salad, which turned out to be mostly baby beet tops. It was carpaccio. It was good.
We waited almost another hour for the sole with tomatoes, zucchini and rice. I think we all agreed that this was the weakest course, although I probably protested the least since I hadn’t had the typical German-style French fish dish – fish, sauce, rice and vegetables – in a while. The biggest problem for me was the bitter zucchini, whereas Kristin complained about the bland sauce and rice.
The dessert was mascarpone cream and berries stacked between sheets of brik (which apparently is actually called malouska; the French Wikipedia article has a more complete explanation of how it’s made). Of course there was a drizzle of chocolate mixed with something else (alcohol? balsamic vinegar?). I’ll never understand the chocolate drizzle on a non-chocolate dessert – why ruin a fruit dessert with chocolate? Needless to say, I tasted the chocolate for good measure but then left it alone. The rest of the dessert was delicious, but I’m likely to love anything with mascarpone and berries. [Kristin: While I usually believe chocolate and fruit is a magnificent pairing, this drizzle was a distraction.]
Would I go back? Yes, definitely. The wine was good (a glass of crémant to start, a bottle of Riesling to go with the meal), and so was the food. The atmosphere is great: as “hipstery,” upscale or relaxed as you are but without an attitude. Berlin halt.