This review of a Berlin restaurant is a break from The Picky Glutton’s usual London-based coverage
Berlin has no shortage of restaurants serving up food from outside the German-speaking world as well as contemporary German cuisine, but sometimes you just need the traditional, old-fashioned lashings of pork that the Germans are famous for. Renger-Patzsch serves up Alsatian food, a cuisine from a region that’s now part of France but has strong Germanic influences.
The interior of Renger-Patzsch is a brightly-lit, somewhat spartan place with, somewhat amusingly, a Geordie behind the bar. If the weather is warm enough to sit outside though, it’s well worth doing – the restaurant is located on a quiet, leafy residential street not too far south of the Tiergarten.
Renger-Patzsch’s menu does make some allowances for the seasons, but some dishes seem to be available year round. My dining companion for the evening, Templeton Peck, started off with an appetiser of black pudding paired with bacon and lentils. The thick slices of pudding were more meaty than fatty and were complimented well by the sweetness of the lentils. The addition of bacon is usually a cheap and easy way of adding flavour to a dull dish using fat and salt, but that wasn’t the case here. The strips of bacon weren’t too crispy or excessively salty and added a layer of firm meatiness that contrasted nicely with the softer texture of the black pudding.
Pike-perch (also called zander) is a fish apparently unrelated to either pike or perch. It’s apparently a common staple in central and eastern European cuisines and here it’d been grilled until the skin had turned crispy. The firm yet light flesh had a gently salty, earthy taste to it that’s very pleasing. The accompanying potato salad is good enough with tender chunks of potato and bitter leaves in a fennel-tinged dressing.
Our main courses were all about red meat. Templeton Peck had a massive plate of Alsatian sauerkraut with pork shoulder, pork knuckle, salt pork and smoked sausage. The sauerkraut had clearly been infused with meat at some point, perhaps some pork fat, which added an extra tang to the tart preserved vegetables. The standouts here were the tender, slightly smoky pork knuckle, which appeared to have been steamed, and the smoky and salty yet sweet sausage.
Rivalling Templeton’s pork plate for heartiness was my own main course of ox cheeks. They were extremely tender – they were almost too soft and I would have preferred a touch more firmness to them but that’s quibbling. Their meatiness was enhanced by the dark, tangy, mildly viscous sauce. The sweet, salty tanginess of the stewed prunes wrapped in bacon complimented the cheeks surprisingly well. If that wasn’t enough heartiness for you, there’s a big dollop of mashed potato too.
Although Templeton Peck was cradling his belly and groaning gently to himself, I persuaded him to share a massive apple, cinnamon and calvados tarte flambée with me. The baked dough base was remarkably thin and crispy, almost resembling a Jacobs’ cream cracker in places. Templeton and I were rather unsure about it, but the tender and sweet slices of apple had just the right amount of bite and were liberally dusted with cinnamon. The usually bold and unmistakable taste of calvados was surprisingly muted though. Perhaps they saw me coming.
The simple fare at Renger-Patzsch is a bit heavy, but it’s filling, tasty and thoroughly hearty. It won’t sit well with everyone, especially if you’re visiting Berlin during the hotter months, but if you’re in need of a filling feed then it’s very satisfying stuff.
Address: Wartburgstraße 54, 10823 Berlin, Germany
Phone: 00 49 30 784 2059
Opening Hours: seven days a week 18.00-23.30.
Reservations: highly recommended
Total cost for one person including drinks when shared between two people: €40-45 (£36 approx. at time of writing).