Sophisticated gym hall dining
Claim to fame: A lighter, more contemporary take on German fine dining
Reason to go: The stunningly beautiful, masterful seafood creations and the unique venue
To look out for: The best fine dining lunch in Berlin
Once known for a certain lack of forward thinking, Pauly Saal received a whole new culinary attitude in 2014 when Head Chef Arne Anker took over the kitchen. Under his helm the restaurant’s menu, served in a stunningly cool former gymnastics hall of an erstwhile Jewish girls school, suddenly reflected the grand aspirations of contemporary tastes and esthetics that owners Boris Radcun and Stephan Landwehr always sought for their fine dining flagship.
The extraordinary venue is dominated by a commissioned, rocket shaped centerpiece by artist Cosima von Bonin, the dining hall’s soaring ceiling and retro-chic furniture act as the perfect setting for Chef Anker’s modern art-food masterpieces. Just like one of his former mentors, the legendary Dutch Chef Sergio Herman, Anker loves to express his affinity for seafood and clean flavors, both in his menus and in his beautiful, abstract art-resembling plating. Two variations of sepia come with a bean curd “chocolate bar”, a combination that proves to be a lot less complicated and easier on the palate than the eye might suggest. Beef tenderloin is dry-aged in house and served in perfect slices with a parsnip puree and a plate-licking beef jus. An equally striking arrangement of peach, orange, lemon and poppy seed in three different textures provides a worthy end to one of Anker’s elaborate dining spectacles. The beyond knowledgeable sommelier will make sure that these extravaganzas are adequately entertained by beverage choices from his classically focused wine cellar.
Pauly Saal combines the contemporary terroir-thinking of an innovative chef with the use of selected ingredients from around the globe to create a menu that’s much lighter and more inventive than many other Berlin restaurants attempting the same tricks. The result is a restaurant that caters not only to a breed of young and hip diners, but also to an older generation that values white tablecloths and a bottle of old world Bordeaux.