Friends, editors and local contacts, no matter who I asked for their not-to-miss insider recommendations for my weekend trip to Berlin, all I received was a list long of galleries, helpful on hotels and sprinkled with promising retail spots – but light on restaurants. Of those who did suggest dining spots, each and every one recommended Pauly Saal, located inside the Jewish girls’ school-turned-arts hub Jüdische Mädchenschule in Mitte.
So when unbridled awe at the sheer dimensions of art spaces fashioned from former factories and warehouses gave way to rumbling stomachs, my mother and I headed as directed.
Inside the dark building (completed in 1928), we made our way across gently worn Persian carpets and into the exposed-brick dining room. Under four stunning champagne-hued Murano glass chandeliers, the restaurant’s stylish 1920s-inspired interior comprises an assortment of quirky antiques (such as stuffed foxes wearing hats). One striking central anachronism, however, is the red and grey lacquered rocket that separates the dining area from head chef Siegfried Danler’s open kitchen.
Landküche, which loosely translates as “peasant” or “country” food, is the word my German friends used when trying to prepare us for Danler’s Michelin-starred approach to Weimar cuisine. I scanned the English menu for something less hearty than the day’s three-course lunch menu (€56) – built around coffee-infused veal with truffles and kohlrabi – then set off to take a peek at the slow-roasting rotisserie meats.
On returning to our velvet banquette, I nibbled on still-warm graubrot (literally “grey bread”), mainly so that I could taste the salty butter that regulars rave about. Next came my ladylike portion of Baltic salmon tartar with pickled mini gherkins and red onion slivers on featherweight potato pancakes, leaving me plenty of appetite for our baked spring chicken for two with potato cucumber salad and Viennese chive sauce. Served in the Staub cast-iron pot in which it is cooked, my mother declared this truly finger-licking fowl the most delicious ever.