Fine dining goes underground to find local roots
Claim to fame: Root vegetables elevated to star status
Reason to go: The chicken dish and the venue itself
To look out for: The ambitious non-alcoholic beverage pairing
Einsunternull: “One below zero” refers to the location of this new locavore cave where trend-savvy guests are served lunch in the bright street-level venue only to take an elevator down to the dark, minimalist cellar when they return for dinner. It’s surely no coincidence that almost all the cutting-edge plates at this renegade dining location feature an ingredient that has been unearthed below ground.
Formerly the celebrated sommelier at two-star Berlin institution Reinstoff, Ivo Evert and his team now run a much more contemporary concept with a radically local focus. In their celebration of roots, powered by the ancient skills of pickling, brining and fermenting, Ebert and his kitchen crew extract a rich spectrum of flavors from the stingy, sandy soils around Berlin. The shortcomings of these barren lands have traditionally prevented terroir-focused cooking to blossom in Berlin, yet dishes like the Einsunternull short rib prove the vast potential of this cooking with lofty layers of lightly pickled, paper-thin celery root perfectly complementing a succulent piece of beef. As does the house homage to chicken; a piece of perfectly plump breast meat comes with an insane salt-cured egg yolk and a complementing cup of broth, made from the very same bird. The kitchen cleverly contrasts flavors, textures and esthetics. Plating is also always high on drama as in a stunning, black monochrome composition: a circle of burnt rapeseed oil and a long rectangle of Müritz River trout blackened by leek ash. The signature dessert sums up Einsunternull’s journey to the roots: Dried and baked salsify is served with frozen yoghurt and woodruff from the Brandenburg forest adding floral, slightly bitter herbaceous notes.
The beverage list is structured by mood, though ”Spaß am Leben” is a bit unfairly separated from ”Boden, Natur, Region”. Sometimes an interesting beer finds its way into the wine pairing. The service is updated fine dining, the staff a lot more formal than the sneakered patrons. The sleek dining room is warm and intimate, colorfully accented by glass jars of preserved fruits and veggies to illustrate the house philosophy.