First Floor – Star Cuisine for 15 Years
A special occasion took us to the milestone of Berlin's post-war golden years - the building complex surrounding the Europa Center mall. The Hotel Palace on Budapester Straße, to be exact. Opened in 1968 and having undergone several modernisation projects since then, it still gives off a very authentic 1970s charm that makes you anticipate Harald Juhnke coming up around the corner to take a seat at the bar at any given moment.
And even on the sterling premises of the First Floor we feel taken back to the living rooms of our pasts. A nostalgic state of mind we could get used to. The large panoramic windows offer an extensive view of the Berlin Zoo's famous Elephant Gate. We're sitting amidst mahogany wood and Meissner porcelain and are curious about the culinary journey that awaits us.
The First Floor has been there for 20 years, and has been receiving a Michelin star for 15 consecutive years as well as numerous other accolades. They obviously know how to cook. Current kitchen master is Berlin-born Swabian Matthias Diether, who established his name as a brand with his fine modern cuisine in the blink of an eye.
Sommelier Gunnar Tietz, who recently upgraded the wine list to unbelievable 1500 items, hand-picked a sterling selection of wine to pair with and finish the menus.
After various amuses-gueules involving a mouth-watering plate of beautifully arranged green asparagus, horseradish and iced sauce hollandaise, we're served a bowl of little slices of bread and tiny buns looking so deliciously tempting they make me temporarily forget about my Paleo diet just to get a taste. And it was worth it! My favorites: a focaccia slice and a curry crisp.
I'm head over heels for our first course of 'Tuna - Foie d'Oie - Woodruff'. An exciting combination that makes for a good basic satiation, too. My third course 'Essence of Potato and Egg' is the perfect reconciliation dish for the second course of 'Ray - Spinach - Parmesan' that didn't quite hit home for me. The potato-egg-creation on the other side is to die for. Thick and creamy. Rich in flavor. Pretty much amazing!
The meat course 'Beef - Leeks - Chanterelle' does not rank behind one bit and excites us just as much. Visually as well as flavor-wise! The overall harmony of mouthwatering reductions, sauces and aromas is extraordinary. As far as I see it, we will not stop telling of this evening of indulgence for a while now.
The grand finale is introduced with a little piece of pâtisserie heaven and a trio called 'Coffee - Bailey's - Cherry', a dessert that practically fuses in your mouth into a spoonful of Black Forest cake. We're sold!
The staff took excellent care of us throughout the evening. The wine pairings by Gunnar Tietz were outstanding and made for a couple of unexpected highlights in flavors and nuanced combinations. First Floor rightfully belongs on the list of the city's top restaurants!