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Tim Raue in Berlin - 2 Michelin stars

Rating: 91.
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On the 19th of June 2013, US-president Barack Obama had dinner in Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin with "Bundeskanzler" Angela Merkel and a few dozen guests. The four courses were cooked by Berlin chef Tim Raue. Overall, it was quite a traditional ("bodenständig") menu: white asparagus, cod, Königsberger Klopse (veal meatball) and Bienenstich (bee sting cake) with wines by Markus Schneider and Joachim Dreissigacker. If you looked closer however, you could not help noticing a dash of dashi - an Asian touch very characteristic for this darling of the Berlin dining scene.

Even at 39 years of age, Tim Raue (b. 1974) is one of the young Turks in gastronomic Berlin, well-known for his Asian-inspired cuisine. His road to prominence has been long and winding  - as his autobiography "Ich weiss, was Hunger ist" ("I know what hunger is") attests. Tim Raue was born and raised in Berlin Kreuzberg in a troubled family and as a teenager he was a member of the infamous "36 boys" gang in Berlin. At one point he was advised that for a person like him, three walks of life were open: painter, gardener or cook. He chose wisely.

Tim Raue spent his entire culinary career in Berlin. He began his training at restaurant Die Quadriga in the Brandenburger Hof hotel and continued at the Bamberger Reiter (where he first met his wife Marie-Anne) and Remise restaurant at Schloss Glienicke. In 1997 he became head chef at restaurant Rosenbaum and in 1998 he switched to the Kaiserstuben before working at restaurant ETA Hoffmann in Riehmers Hofgarten Hotel.

In 2003 Tim Raue became executive chef at the Swissôtel in Berlin on the Kurfürstendamm with its fine dining restaurant "44". He started reaping awards quickly; in 2005 he was newcomer of the year in Gault Millau Germany and was listed among the 80 hottest tables around the world by Condé Nast. Michelin awarded a star in 2007. In 2008 Hotel Adlon was his next stop and restaurant "MA Tim Raue" was awarded a Michelin star almost instantaneously. In July 2010 he opened his own restaurant, together with wife Marie-Anne (maitre d' and sommelier) in the Rudi Dutschke Strasse, in his native Kreuzberg, close to Checkpoint Charlie. The Michelin star followed him from Unter den Linden and a second one was bestowed in 2012 (2013 guide).

Restaurant Tim Raue is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday till Saturday. The restaurant offers a 'Menu Unique' (6 courses, € 148), a seasonal menu (4 courses € 108, 6 courses € 138), a lunch menu with a choice from 6 starters, 6 mains and 3 desserts (3 courses € 38, 4 courses € 48, 5 courses € 58, 6 courses € 68) and there's an a la carte menu. I had lunch at Tim Raue with my husband on Friday 31 May 2013 and we both selected 6 courses from the lunch menu.

We started off with four appetisers. Beautifully presented thin slices of lovely soft Szechuan pork belly with pungent chilli and sesame dressing. Creamy hamachi (yellowtail) ceviche with fresh apple, cucumber and finely sliced lemongrass. Crunchy slices of daikon served with a mustard dressing (no photograph) and some thai curry cashews.

My first course was a light and fragrant salad of lobster, chopped macadamia nuts, chopped pomelo segments, sliced shallot, shredded kaffir lime leaf and a light chilli dressing. Lovely succulent lobster and great crunch and flavour from the macadamia nuts. One of the ingredients of the chilli dressing was a shrimp paste, which added a lovely depth of flavour. All the other flavours were powerful but balanced. First you get the sweetness of the lobster and the pomelo, then the sharpness of the shallots and a touch of citrussy warmth from the kaffir lime leaf and finally a nice spicy finish.

Tim Raue is known for his signature dim sum and on the day the lunch menu featured 3 types of dim sum from which I chose two. First up was Sobrasada dim sum. Deep-fried, perfectly crisp dumplings with a Sobrasada (cured Spanish pork sausage) filling, served with a drizzle of honey and some freshly grated pear. The filling had a soft forcemeat-like texture and lovely warm and spicy paprika flavours. Elegant sweetness from the pear and honey. A playful and delicious flavour combination that was followed by dim sum with a more traditional flavours of guinea fowl and truffle. Soft dumplings with a sublime filling of guinea fowl served with a gorgeous rich Perigord truffle sauce with a touch of piquancy, crunchy hazelnuts, grapes and a Japanese chestnut cream.

With the fourth course it was back to Asia again. Pieces of soft and tender suckling pig belly in a sticky and spicy sauce made with tangerine zest, served with a fragrant mixture of crushed szechuan pepper and sea salt, which combined nicely with the suckling pig but was incredibly powerful on its own and had to be used with extreme care. With the suckling pig came a salad of daylilies, celery and chilli. A nice dish but the flavours challenged my palate, rather than comfort it. However, this was quickly forgotten when the next dish arrived.

Pecking duck, Tim Raue style. This is one of Tim Raue's signature dishes and is comprised of 3 dishes: duck breast, duck foie gras terrine and duck soup. First the duck breast which was very flavoursome, had a lovely crisp skin and was served on a sweet five spice waffle filled with spring onions and apple and accompanied by a sublime, pure and sticky, duck jus. Next a duck foie gras terrine covered with a thin layer of tender duck leg meat and three dollops of foie gras cream. Also on the plate was a piece of pickled cucumber, Chinese barbecue sauce and leek and ginger puree. Wonderful combination of creamy and rich flavours, balanced perfectly by the cucumber and the leek and ginger puree. Finally a terrific clean and pure duck consommé with duck heart, stomach and liver, celery and crisp croutons. The consommé had an incredible depth of flavour and was delicately seasoned with chilli and five spice powder. Three exceptional dishes with warm and decadent flavours and faultless seasoning (especially the well-judged use of five spice powder) and a fantastic display of skill.

Final course of the lunch menu was an elegant dessert of fresh purslane juice, accompanied by coconut ice cream, aerated white chocolate, yuzu chiboust, fresh coconut and miso caviar. Wonderful balance of sweet, sour and creamy flavours and great textures too. Loved the yuzu chiboust, creamy with elegant citrus flavours.

Last to arrive was a delicious, refreshing wild strawberry sorbet and green tea-white chocolate lollipop.
"Curiosity should be your driver, your will your engine and sovereignty your steering wheel", Tim Raue writes in the introduction to his 2012 book "My favourite things", a book intended to abduct the reader into the personal aroma-world of the author, a world between Berlin and Hong Kong. From his training and experience in Berlin and his culinary travels in the Orient, Tim Raue has fashioned a style of cooking that is quite unique - in Germany anyway. This accomplished chef produces energetic and vibrant food and arrives at distinctive and innovative flavour combinations. He avoids dairy and complex carbohydrates as these would interrupt the flow of energy from the food to the body. He does not do delicate however; the focus is more on flavour and expression than on restraint or finesse. There is no doubt that the authentic and creative cuisine of Tim Raue, with its occasional rough edge, will continue to make waves.

Posted 06-07-2013


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