Horváth - Haute Cuisine in an 80s Hotspot
Where once there was a Kippenberger painting on the wall, heating ovens puffing and Berlin's creative elite out and about, there is now some serious cooking going on. Star chef Sebastian Frank has brought Exil, a former hotspot that was frequented by mostly celebrities, back to life with a tasteful interior. People still stop by to see what has become of the place that now displays a sign reading 'Horváth' above the entrance on Paul-Linke-Ufer. The rooms are bright and welcoming, an original turn-of-the-century panelling on the wall and the food is described as 'authentic Austrian haute cuisine'.
The first course out of eight quickly follows an unannounced amuse-gueule. All ingredients, handed to us on individual menu cards before each course, are presented in an almost Shakespeare-esque manner: endives. parsnip. parsley. dried vegetable stripes with camelina oil. fried king oyster mushroom. endive salad with an apple-honey-marinade. parsley root radish. dried parsley. parsnip milk. horváth's herb slips. Taste-wise, it's a work of art.
Every course is so well-rounded, we wish the service would never seize to serve yet another delicious surprise. It's like a box of chocolates: you want to try one of each. What else does the kitchen do? What else is there to taste? What is the secret behind the next dish? It's pure joy! Warm and cold components are playfully mixed together, acidic and mild creamy foods, hard and liquid, animal and vegetable, everything in perfect harmony. Really, pure joy.
The staff are not coming on too strong, know exactly what to say and when, and have a pleasant sense of humor and a lot of zeitgeist. A final amuse-gueule was served even after dessert to deliver the unforgettable goodbye: tiny edible sachets filled with a caramel-buttercream that is, excuse my application of this overused term, a true taste explosion. The impeccable wine pairings worked their magic, too, and so we were released into a beautiful night in Kreuzberg.