Friday, December 4, 2009

The Berlin Secret Restaurant Series: Cantina

Berlin, Germany

Before I continue with the "secret restaurant" series, I have been asked to explain what makes a "secret restaurant" "secret". Right. Good question. As I mentioned, it is indeed perplexing to be classified as secret when you have been written up in the NYT. There are perhaps different categories of secret and the two which I am posting in this series fall under the category of real restaurant (i.e. professional kitchen and professionals chefs) in a location that was not originally intended as a restaurant- in the two examples in this series that location is a club. Cookies Cream is above the Cookies club and Cantina is in the backroom of the bar Tausend. There are other secret restaurants in Berlin that are located in residences, in someone's living room where the chef is an amateur and so is the kitchen. There is no bill for dinner but rather a suggested donation as these establishments are not licensed to serve food or alcohol. Unfortunately, I have not yet made it to one of the home-spun secret restaurants but intend to as soon as possible. In the meantime, I submit for your perusal the second in the series and my personal favorite...

Catina. In Tausend. Found at the bottom of the steps up to the Friedrichstrasse S-Bahn, opposite side of the river from the Reichstag. Go around the corner from the main entrance. Around the back. Ring the bell. Enter the kitchen. And then behold....

The Miso Cod with pickled ginger. Oh. My. God. Our mustached, soft-spoken and very patient waiter recommended this. About three times. Before I finally said, 'I think we'll try the miso cod.' He smiled approvingly. The meat slipped off the fish like catching a greased watermelon. It was like this fish had been brined in vasoline. The texture was firm, the fish fatty and the miso was subtle and delicious. I still dream about this.

The ceviche. Oh. My. God. A white fish and squid marinated in lime, tossed with red onion and topped with red chillies and coriander. Corn and sweet potato on the side. I wanted to rub my face in the plate. I may have - but have you ever gotten red chilli in your eye? Not fun. I abstained. But this was every bit as good as the amazing ceviche we ate in Lima, Peru, where ceviche was born and raised. And maybe better - because we were in Berlin, rather than the cerviche capital of the world. But we would not have been blamed for mistaking Cantina for a cevicheria in Lima.

Seared tuna with foie gras served over wild herb risotto. Perfection on a plate. I can't even talk about it. Lick the screen. Go ahead, lick it. You know you want to.

Beef skewers. Topped with red onion, cilantro and chillies. Oh. My. God.

The creme brulé. Very good.

I would say more but I think these pictures speak for themselves. And if they don't let me say it for them, "Deeeeeeeeellllllisssssshhhhhuuuuouuuuus!!!!"


  1. this looks amazing! i'm heading to berlin this weekend and someone recommended the cantina, hopefully it is still as great as these pictures make it out to be! thanks for sharing.


  2. Well I don't know if I'm ever going to come to Berlin, but thank you for this guide, it's very well done!
    Please visit