Ambitious foraging, abundant fermentation, zero boring wines
Claim to fame: Polyglot, refined bistro in a former electrical substation
Reason to go: Slender natural wines, elegantly combined with ingredients you never thought would end up on the same plate
To look out for: The irreverent wine shop, hidden behind the restaurant
With a French owner, an Italian head chef and a German sommelier, how could this restaurant be anything other than a culinary superpower? Jan Hugel likes his wines slim, clean, elegant, and unconventional; chef and tattoo-canvas Danny Benedettini loves foraging, preserving, pickling and canning nature’s bounty. He hoards ingredients like a greedy squirrel preparing for winter, securing a reassuring supply of fermented green strawberries and plums, pickled lavender buds and salted lemon skins before the first snow even arrives.
Throughout the year, his artistic sharing plates, presented on various kinds of handmade ceramics, impress a clientele of artsy locals and international visitors. Summertime, the outdoor seating overlooking the canal is brimming with people, while indoors you’ll find a combination of Nordic light, Japanese elegance and British industrialism. The brick building itself, a former electrical substation, also hosts a dance studio, an amateur theater and Hugel's tiny wine shop La di da di, open by appointment only, though perfectly accessible to those who ask nicely. And while good manners should always be encouraged, a bit of sass never hurt anyone––a sticker on the store’s door reads “Fuck off Industriewein”, effectively announcing what to expect of Hugel’s assortment.
Burrata is regularly featured on the menu, often combined with surprising ingredients such as katsuobushi, aka flappy fish flakes. Other unexpected dishes include leeks with mulberries and Asian pears with almond butter caramel and horseradish. Cod cheek schnitzels are garnished with rose hip, and hay ice cream quivers on top of malty cep crumbles. These are solid examples of new-wave European gastronomy, a phenomenon that is slowly merging French bistronomie with Scandinavian passion for local produce and Japanese craftsmanship.
The cocktails are graceful, smart and innovative, they work wonders both before, after or instead of dinner. Sure, the neighborhood is being gentrified, but fear not, there’s still a lot of Berlinesque charm to be found here. The tiny bridge that straddles the canal accommodates all kinds of cultural expressions, from buskers and jesters, to flee-markets and concerts on portable pianos.