The first time you walk by einsunternull in the Oranienburger Tor area, you are guaranteed to pass it without noticing. From the outside, this upscale establishment is modest and unadorned. To the left of the heavy front door hangs a rusty metal plate bearing the name of the restaurant. One day last November, owner Ivo Ebert opened up his restaurant for the first time to the Jeunes Restaurateurs (JRE), an association of top chefs in Germany, who held their Culinary Experience #6 there under the title “Aromatic Diversity.”
Today, the JRE chefs are producing creations even more special and unusual than those normally offered at einsunternull. Each course is created by a different top chef from the culinary network using the finest ingredients. There is a total of nine courses, none of which have ever before appeared on a restaurant menu. The culinary experience lives up to its name, giving top chefs the chance to experiment with new ideas.
You enter to find a nicely thought-out restaurant with warm, well-placed lighting. The kitchen is on display, separated from the ground-floor dining area by a large window and a glass sliding door. The stylish furnishings are impressive with the contrast of dark wood against pale concrete. The chairs are comfortable and the table decorations are practical, but laid out with an attention to detail. Today’s culinary experience takes place where the lunch menu is usually served.
First, however, Michelin-starred host, Chef Alexander Huber, leads you downstairs. In the basement dining area, a breakfast of weisswurst—a Bavarian veal sausage—is served. Lined up on the long serving cabinet that sits in front of the sunken atrium are tulip glasses and wheat beer glasses alongside the wine glasses. After a welcome from the host, guests enjoy their weisswurst in a relaxed atmosphere. Apparently, they feel so at home that Huber almost has difficulty asking them all to return to the ground floor.
Upstairs you sit at stylishly set tables, now displaying samples from the culinary network. Between courses, the chefs introduce their own, quite unique, food. Their expertise and enthusiasm turn even the most commonplace ingredients, like olive oil and apple juice, into a truly indulgent experience.
Each serves up a sample plate of his new creation and explains how it is prepared. Every wine offering has been recommended by a representative of its winery. Since neither the dishes nor the pairings have been tested previously on a large scale, it is all an experiment—and an inconceivably tasty one at that.
Among the delicacies is pigeon breast—an extraordinary taste experience—and it gets even more interesting at the main course. Daniel Schmidthaler uses nothing but salt and woodland herbs for seasoning, incorporating the flavors in various ways. Pheasant, not the most mundane meat anyway, thus becomes a real event for the palate and tongue.
Meeting the Culinary Team
Michelin-starred chefs judge other top chefs—a whole host of culinary expertise is gathered at einsunternull today. During the feedback sessions that follow each course, the criticism is both honest and constructive. The dish presented needs to be improved before it can appear on a dinner menu. The experts also share tips on how to use their materials more effectively.
While the courses are prepared, presented, and served, one after the other, and the members of the culinary network joke with each other at the neighboring table, you are invited to have a look around the kitchen. A multitude of superb talents is gathered here, but it is only with perfect organization that they become a functioning team capable of presenting nine courses as a complete work of art. The chefs serve the food themselves, and there are no artificial barriers here. People are on first-name terms, all sampling the food and laughing together.
After the second dessert (a chocolate mousse with rose petal jam, saffron ice cream, quince sauce, and cheese balls [with a fitting wine to complement the dish]), a long and delicious day draws to a close. Contrary all logic, you find yourself wanting to carry on eating, simply because everything tasted so good—extraordinary indulgence combined with a whole host of culinary expertise.