That night, everyone was different. We stopped at the eatery at Checkpoint Charlie on one of the hottest days of the year, still pleasantly chilled from an afternoon at Lake Liepnitz. The – and this is meant in a thoroughly positive way – hippsteresque halls of the capital’s culinary scene open up for us. And that today for a purely vegan menu. A menu that we will also not eat with knife, fork and spoon, but with completely different accessories: We were invited to the Steinbeisser Dinner. A culinary-creative concept of the collective of the same name from Amsterdam.
Although everything was different, much was as expected. Billy Wagner scurried from place to place as a lively and eloquent host, always along the long, u-shaped counter that characterizes much of the wonderful interior. He is always seen with a bottle of good wine in his hand, explaining the winemaker, grape and process. And of course, even before the first course, the maestro pointed out to me that my camera had better find its way back into the bag. Constants in the Unknown. Fortunately, Caroline Prange took the much better pictures on behalf of Steinbeisser anyway, so this circumstance did not prove to be a disadvantage at all.
Equally disadvantageous at first was the renunciation of butter, milk and all other animal products. Although I would have loved to taste the aged butter that is usually served with the bread. Instead, a walnut oil was served that evening. And a great mashed potatoes using hemp oil. In fact, nothing was missing here. But it didn’t necessarily make it any better than a very good classic puree with lots of butter. Is that then praise or criticism of a vegan dish from an omnivorous point of view?
Questioning the known is Steinbeisser’s concept. Not only with regard to the animal-free orientation of the menu, but also with regard to the tool. In this case, proverbial, because the guests could choose from exhibits of iron smith Nils Hint. This is fun. And is annoying. A delicious plate in front of your eyes and only a pair of tongs to cut the salad and at least bring something mannerly to your mouth sucks. Somewhat. At the same time, however, it ensures that the focus is directed precisely at what the participants have come together for that evening. And, especially at the open bar in Nobelhart & Schmutig, also for many conversations with the neighbors. And so it just has a charm all its own and completely fulfills the promise of this special experience.
The menu takes its course. We enjoyed the nice anecdotes about the wines and beers served. Arrange ourselves with the ever-changing tools next to our plates. And then Micha Schäfer served the cauliflower. A sensation of taste. Visually, this plate may not reveal itself at first glance, but is full of intense flavors, full of heavy and slightly smoky cauliflower. By far one of the best courses of the evening and testament to what can happen in this kitchen.
A lot of light is sometimes followed by shadow. With us in the form of the herb mushrooms. Despite wonderful elder, no real tension wanted to arise. The mushrooms were too bland. Free from roasting aromas. And that was quite intentional. By not using butter on the one hand and olive oils on the other, the chef explained, these roasted flavors simply cannot be made. That is consistent. But also a pity for the guest…
Dessert made up for this little low point, seamlessly picking up where the cauliflower left off: Wonderful.
Of course, we tasted the much-discussed filter coffee, precisely measured via the digital scale, and looked more closely at the digestifs on the extensive drinks menu.
And, of course, we will soon return to the eatery for an evening of the house’s classic menu. On the other hand, we won’t miss the chance to follow the Steinbeissers on their further stages, because the concept is simply captivating and challenges both guest and host. The next event will be held at Kimberley Unser in Frankfurt, Germany, September 25-27. To celebrate the creative collective’s third anniversary , two-star chef Edwin Vinke will then be cooking up a storm in Amsterdam from October 9-11 (at the Lloyd Hotel, a great creative venue and home base for Steinbeisser).
All photos by Caroline Prange and Steinbeisser