WHERE TO DINE
The clichéd image of German cuisine may be sauerkraut and pork knuckle washed down with a stein or two, but Pots – the Ritz Carlton’s flagship restaurant – is effortlessly showcasing the best of the country’s modern cooking. Putting a contemporary twist on traditional dishes, the dining space has an airy, modern feel with its open-plan kitchen, while the ever-changing menu, overseen by chef and patron Dieter Muller and Executive Chef Frederik Grieb is fast gaining a reputation as one of the best in the city. The food comes tapas style, which was great for synchronising ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ of delight, but it tasted so good we didn’t necessarily want to share. The Flammkuchens (German tarte flambees) are a house speciality – we had the blue cheese and pear – and an absolute must to start, while the Purple Mustard Egg sounded intriguing, looked incredible and turned out to be delicious. The veal meatballs with Riesling sauce and Jerusalem Artichokes were the stand out main, while the banana soufflé with milk chocolate and exotic fruits was the perfect way to round off the evening. Sommelier Mathias Brandweiner has just won a prize for host of the year and it is not hard to see why – his wine selection, which highlighted often overlooked German gems, matched the dishes perfectly and his friendly welcome made us instantly feel at home. With a lively, fast-evolving restaurant scene in Berlin, Pots certainly isn’t short of competition though as we found out when we ventured out on our second night to Pauly Saal’s bar and restaurant, a hip hot-spot housed in a former Jewish school just to the north of the city centre. Its Michelin-starred restaurant was fully booked, but that hardly mattered as we instead pulled up a stool at the cosy cocktail bar and ordered from the tapas menu. Once again it was tarte flambées to start (and once again they were divine) while the foie gras, crispy goat’s cheese cigars, salmon tartare with poached egg and avocado, and teriyaki-glazed pork-belly strips were mouth-wateringly good. The best was yet to come though; dessert was a Bellini – white-peach sorbet with sparkling wine. Afters and alcohol? Perfection.
AND FINALLY WHERE TO SHOP
Effectively home to two vastly contrasting cities for the second half of the 20th century, it’s no surprise that Berlin has something for everyone when it comes to shopping, mixing high-end boutiques with flea-market bargains – and covering all points in between.
Voo Store, described by Vogue as the Colette of Berlin, is where to find the latest emerging and established names.
Kurfurstendamm is often referred to as the Champs Elysees of Berlin, and is the place to go if you want to hit the department stores – including Berlin’s biggest, KeDeWe – and pick up some designer pieces. Meanwhile the old East Berlin is just as you’d expect – very trendy and the place to hunt for a bargain. Humana Kaufhaus in hip Friedrichshain is well worth a visit (it’s spread over five floors and also includes a vintage section covering the 1950s to the 1990s) while at the PicknWeight Vintage Kilo Stores you pay by weight, not per piece. Also perfect for serious thrift-hunters are the city’s flea markets – Friedrichshain has one every Sunday morning, but the biggest, and best, is at Mauerpark. It’s as much a cultural experience as a shopping one, with entertainment and great street food as well.
The Ritz-Carlton Berlin, Potsdamer Platz 3, 10785 Berlin,
Tel: +49 30 337777 or visit www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/germany/berlin