They say you taste first with your eyes.
This is one of the prettiest dishes I’ve ever been served. But not the tastiest. The cabbage dome hides a collection of super-chewy shrimp and dull white sole. The delicate peach-colored froth is lobster foam, luscious but not exceptionally flavorful. The sea doesn’t lap in your mouth. The cabbage falls apart like soggy paper, difficult to cut into bites.
I didn’t try the violet.
For a fancy lunch, Fischers Fritz in Berlin has two Michelin stars and menu prices that won’t completely slay you. But it got me thinking about presentation, about prettiness, about all the little touches that make a meal extra special.
This land-lover’s entree of pork belly and cabbage is nice and tidy. See that purple muppet of deep maroon cabbage with the fluffy herb hair? My husband couldn’t stop devouring it. Sweet and vinegary, it dissolved in your mouth in a tingle of flavors. The pork belly played the heavy crispness against the nearly liquid pork fat. It reminded us of lechon, which, in the Filipino food lexicon, is a compliment of the highest order.
Our appetizers were on another level. I loved my eel bar, a thin strip of minced smokiness frosted with cream cheese-like horseradish icing. The flavors were lovely enough, but the playfulness of the underwater scene, decorated with dill weeds and fans of apple crisps, made me smile. I waited for a mermaid to emerge.
I hadn’t thought of playing with dill in such a way (which didn’t, I should say sadly, contribute much beyond a clever stage prop to the dish, leaving an awkward grassy texture on my tongue). Visually, the herb made me consider a whole new line of options. Trees of rosemary. Fans of basil. Clover fields of oregano.
We didn’t order dessert, but one of the pleasantries of a place like Fischers Fritz is little surprises from the chef. I wish every meal ended with a dollop of sweetness. This pineapple mousse and ice-creaminess dollop danced on my tongue. Delicious.
Could it ever be proper to serve such a sliver of sweetness at a dinner party?
Maybe the surrealist squiggle of sauce would give me permission.
Before we headed back out into the damp Berlin chill, we fortified ourselves with warm mugs of caffeine. With them came doll-size loaves, lemon poppy-seed confections that featured a wonderfully mighty crust and a divine cake interior.
These humble knobs of cake weren’t much to gaze at, yet they were one of the most delicious bites of our lunch. Looks only go so far.
Regent Berlin Hotel
Berlin, Germany 10117