It's always a slightly daunting but enjoyable challenge planning meals for a trip abroad. I attempted the usual lines of research ahead of a few days in Berlin but it's clear the blog culture out there is not as rich as over here (for better or worse). I found endless coffee blogs (not surprising as Berlin does dominate coffee) and lifestyle blogs but very few reliable food blogs, in fact a lot of the food reviews were UK based bloggers that had written up meals post-holiday. Honestly, i'm not a massive fan of TripAdvisor (aside from reading 'Terrible' reviews for fun) as the results often seem to offer no reflection of the actual situation in a given city. Despite having lived here for 9 months now, I haven't heard any mention of at least half of the top 20 restaurants in Manchester suggesting a severely lacking degree of taste in the population that post reviews.
To cut a long story short, the name Katz Orange kept turning up and piqued my interest, especially after a browse of the menus on the website. They offered a selection that changed often and with tasty sounding specials – usually the sign of a confident and capable chef handling fresh ingredients, the menus I checked out certainly seemed to offer plenty that I would enjoy.
Ambience and first impressions are a big deal to me and often make or break a meal - walking through the large archway in the row of buildings and seeing the church like building at the end of the courtyard looked fantastic and really set the scene well. The restaurant itself is in a very imposing building which on a bright early summer day cast the entire courtyard into shadow, creating an almost eerie short walk to the entrance.
The restaurant itself was very homely once I was safely inside, with a two tier main room and a mix of small intimate tables and a short lower table at the end of the room that was being used for a family meal and all looked extremely relaxed under a backdrop of a huge and impressive tapestry.
As with a lot of restaurants in Berlin I came across a mix of ultra professional American and German serving staff, who all spoke impeccable English and were comfortable covering any questions I had about the menu.
I opened with a turkish coffee martini, I could defintitely taste cardamon and the turkish coffee flavour was distinct enough to seperate it from a standard espresso martini.
For my starter I had the free range beef tartar, green bean, veal tongue, shallot and sour cream. One of the things about beef tartar that is usually frustrating is that portions are small but this could comfortably have been served up as a main with no complaint. The meat was exceptionally flavoured and left to do it's work, with just a sprinkling of sea salt on top to enhance the flavour. The tartar was sat on top of various slices of mushrooms used as a base and a sprinkling of freshly picked herbs scattered over the top.
I was feeling in a meaty mood and for my main had the Flank steak on a bed of creamy potato with wild garlic and celeriac with a side of freshly cut fries in goose fat. Lovely thick chunks of meat, with a lovely flavour and a rich meaty gravy to mix in with the mash.
Proper chips fried in goose fat like a big bowl of perfect Sunday afternoon roasties. Lathered in salt. Crispy bits at the bottom were to die for, almost certainly taking days off my life expectancy with each nibble.
For dessert I went with the Rhubarb and yogurt option. Unsurprisingly given the quality of the previous dishes this was also very impressive. The rhubarb had been used as an Alan Partridge style breakwater to contain the yogurt and had been decorated with sugared caramel walnuts and biscuit crumbs. The tartness of the rhubarb and neutral yogurt taste with the extreme sweetness of the sugared walnuts and biscuit was just mindblowing.
I can't claim to be an expert on the restaurant scene in Berlin but if you're researching ahead of a trip I would thoroughly recommend Katz Orange without hesitation. A meal that was of an exceptional standard from start to finish.