Terroir-focused advanced dining in a radical urban format
Claim to fame: Germany’s most progressive and terroir-focused advanced dining
Reason to go: A very cool and urban food experience and a true taste of Berlin
To look out for: A discussion about German cuisine with the owner and sommelier Billy Wagner
Billy Wagner went from locally celebrated sommelier at Weinbar Rutz to a nationwide gastro-celebrity when he opened Nobelhart & Schmutzig in 2015. In Germany, this type of advanced dining concept is groundbreaking, limiting the kitchen, helmed by young chef Micha Schäfer, to locally sourced ingredients and transforming these into one of Berlin’s most forward-thinking culinary experiences.
Nobelhart & Schmutzig is a restaurant that actively seeks to challenge most elements of traditional German fine dining by serving a ten-course, Nordic-inspired menu, paired with natural wines and locally brewed beers. As Chef Schäfer’s plates hardly feature more than three ingredients, all of the kitchen’s efforts are dedicated to bringing out the very best of every bite. Blood sausage is a recurring menu item, commonly crumbled over stereotypical German dishes like potato soup and wilted cabbage. The results is gut-warming comfort food that you wouldn’t necessarily expect in a fancy restaurant, yet the selection and the quality of Schäfer’s ingredients add the required level of sophistication to lift the dishes beyond standard issue fare. While the nature of such terroir-focused cooking in the agriculturally poor heart of the Brandenburg region could lead to an abundance of sacrifices and a heavy focus on root vegetables and cabbage during meager winter months, the restaurant’s massive, summertime preservation undertakings lift these meals to unexpected lightness by incorporating nifty experiments such as the intensely fragile pickled dandelion and wild garlic flower buds that garnish dishes like fatty lamb and pork necks.
As a guest at this exceptionally well-curated urban dining enterprise you’ll have to ring a tiny doorbell before being granted admission to the secretive and unassuming supper location. You’ll then be seated in a surprisingly comfortable high chair, at an imposing bar encircling an open kitchen. From there you’ll be in the hands of your knowledgeable, graceful host Billy Wagner, a man who enjoys entertaining you with witty jokes and tunes from his private vinyl collection while simultaneously proving to you, glass by glass, just why he ranks as one of the best, contemporary sommeliers in Germany.