Lesendro – Grilled Fish and Seafood with a Hint of Mediterranean
Had I walked by the small fish restaurant on Kollwitzplatz by chance, it's likely I would've never gotten to know Lesendro. Judging by its unimposing situation, no one could imagine the wonders happening in that kitchen. Luckily, a girl friend had invited me here which meant that I was going to enjoy what is likely to be the city's best grilled fish and seafood.
The plain interior underlines the iced display, showing off the day's exclusively wild-caught fresh pieces much like a treasure chest. While I still gaze at all the fish and shellfish, the chef arrives promptly to greet me in person, tall as he is, with a firm handshake.
His name is Vladimir Kosic, a native of Montenegro, who broke camp in Belgrade just over a year ago only to move to Berlin and offer the people here “the city's best grilled fish”. Traditional, clean - just the way he learned it from his grandmother and the way it's been done all along the Adriatic coast for generations.
Anything is based on the best ingredients. The choice of fish, especially, is something he approaches almost like a treasure hunter, picking only the best pieces from several of Berlin's prime wholesalers every morning. He's always had a thing for fishing, himself, and whenever you hear Kosic speak about it, you immediately get a sense of his enthusiasm.
The economics graduate decided early on to leave his former job to dedicate more time to cooking and make other people happy with it, too. He likes it clear, authentic and fuss-free. All he needs in his kitchen are a dash of fresh olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and only premium fish and seafood.
After an outstanding octopus carpaccio accompanied by a small salad of wild herbs, Vladimir then presents to us - not without a little bit of pride, I might add - a gigantic platter of seafood and shellfish such as prawns, calamari, scallops and squid as a second round of appetizers. And despite our initial fears of not going to be able to devour the whole goodness of it, we managed to succeed simply because it was that good.
But not enough - Vladimir has one last treat in petto: a St Peter's fish. He shows it to us before proceeding to grilling it and explains quickly that all he'll do is sprinkle his homemade marinade over it with a rosemary branch. He takes off into his kitchen and comes back a bit later with this splendid masterpiece served alongside grilled vegetables.
“How good does that look”, we notice in unison. After being filleted right before our eyes, the fish lands on our plates and with the very first bite, we were proven that it tastes that way, too. The taste of holidays at the Mediterranean - or even a bit better. What a discovery! But now: summer, please!