The gastronomic heart of Berlin’s most exclusive hotel undoubtedly is the restaurant Lorenz Adlon. Awarded two Michelin stars, it is the reign of chef Hendrik Otto, who serves contemporary classical cuisine of the highest order. What the advantage of being in such a grand hotel might be for a chef, is evident from the very first moment you enter this Esszimmer (meaning dining room in German). The room is indeed set up a bit like a private house’s dining room, with book shelves, and an elegant if refreshingly informal feeling about it. Clearly no expense has been spared here in order to create a fine stage for Otto’s food. The service brigade plays its role in most distinguished manner, putting on a perfect performance that doesn’t feel as stuffy as one could be lead to expect in a German high-end restaurant. In general, the atmosphere in this dining room is a most friendly and warm one, which sets the scene for the food that is about to come.
If one were to characterise Otto’s food, a few elements do stick out. First of all, technique here is faultless, as you have no element that is over- or undercooked in a meal. The products are generally of high quality, even if the langoustines used here certainly aren’t bought in alive. At the same time, the style of the Lorenz Adlon draws on combinations or dishes of the past, and modernises them in a clear way. The Hendik Otto’s dishes are complex and far from puritistic, but he manages to tie things together and present coherent plates of food, which is not all that common even at this level.
It comes thus as no surprise that a dish such as a goose liver with coffee is immensely satisfying. The liver has a superb texture, both creamy and light. Even if the main product is not as heavy as it often can be, the addition of coffee jelly adds a savoury note to the liver that makes it all the easier to eat and enjoy. It is a dish that is complex, and features a significant number of components, but it manages to deliver a clear flavour profile.
Another superb dish is a venison with carrots and a venison ragu on the side. This dish comes in two radically different servings. The main plate contains a perfectly cooked rack of venison, served with a classic jus and a few carrots. The meat has all the finesse and punch that great venison has, and is meltingly tender. The slight sweetness of the carrots is just enough to offset the gamey character of the venison, and much more interesting than the often-used berries or sweeter garnishes. However, it is the second serving of this dish that really is as delicious as it could get. Spaetzle served with a ragu of venison are quite simply divine. The ragu is so rich and complex that these traditional German noodles work perfectly with it.
Hendrik Otto is a chef who clearly knows what he’s doing. His cooking is confident and precise. At the same time, there is an element of playfulness that makes it even more captivating and exciting. With food like this, and the support of the Kempinski group that owns the hotel, he should quickly become one of the finest chefs in Germany, which he is without much doubt already.