Dinner at Ernst

Dinner at Ernst

at Ernst on 13 April 2019
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Last week I managed to secure a reservation at Restaurant Ernst in Berlin which, from what I had been hearing, would be worth the 4 hour flight from Turkey. I was not disappointed.
Canadian born wunderkind Dylan Watson-Brawn was previously cooking for just six people from his Berlin apartment (at the age of 19!!) under the project name ‘Jung, Grün & Blau but has now opened a 12 seat counter around his open kitchen in the area of Wedding. He was awarded his first michelin star last year and I am certain that more accolades will follow, including (I predict) him breaking into the W50 best list. Not that he really cares about such things. Speaking to him during the thirty course meal, which is served by the five chefs and one sommelier who represent the entire staff (no pot washers here), he made no bones about expressing his opinion about such things as the Guide Michelin, Opinionated About Dining and Worlds 50 Best. His opinion is not necessarily one of disdain but more one of indifference. His and his team’s focus is very clearly within the four walls of the restaurant during the four services they perform each week or out in the fields, woods, farms and forests with their multitude of suppliers whom they spend time visiting when the restaurant is closed. There is a name and a relationship that comes with each ingredient you are served. The first salad of the year is from David (the names have been changed to protect the innocent, and because I can’t remember them) down the road and is served with the colostrum of Mary’s cow on a plate made by Matthias etc etc.
The focus lies on seasonality and quality and not necessarily locality with Mangalitza pork from Austria and some other ingredients coming from Sicily, but you can bet that there will be a very close and personal relationship between the restaurant and that supplier no matter where in the world they are.
Some more local ingredients are donated because other restaurants simply don’t use them but the supplier thinks that rather than throw them away, let’s give them to Dylan and his team who crave not the fashionable and for show ingredients but whatever is excellent and tasty in that moment. The salad I referred to was the first of the year and pulled from the ground a couple of hours before service. Hence the ever changing menu and a service that is more like jazz than a fully orchestrated affair. Dishes can change during service as the menu evolves before your eyes. They come thick and fast but you never feel rushed in any way as each chef presents each plate in a friendly and relaxed way. They chat to you as they cook and within minutes you feel totally at ease and more like you are at a friends house than a michelin star restaurant.
There is certainly an air of arrogance to Dylan, who is now only in his mid 20’s, but I think it is refreshing to talk to a chef who cuts straight through all the crap and tells you exactly what he thinks with no filter. At one point during the meal he overheard me and my dining companion wandering out loud how exactly they make any money when they only serve 48 covers per week. He came over and said “This isn’t London Neil, I pay xxx euros per month in rent....that’s how we can make money”.
It was a factor that we had not considered, the area of Wedding, where the restaurant is located, is....erm...’colourful’ to say the least. Gentrification certainly has not reached Wedding. As I walked to the restaurant from the nearest station I strolled past three riot vans full of police gearing up for something and the restaurant is surrounded by boarded up businesses and graffiti. I was escorted from the restaurant to my taxi by one of the chefs at the end of the evening which was very kind, if a little emasculating.
There is not a huge amount of dining in Berlin that is worth a special journey, but Ernst may be one of the first Berlin restaurants that people will get on a plane to travel to. A restaurant that will be the centre piece to their visit to the city with the rest of the trip planned around this one focal point.
I guess you can see that I like the place. I do. You should go. Soon.

10 / 10