Potsdamer Straße 3
Date of Last Visit: Monday, September 7, 2009
The Victim: Me
The Damage: 50 euros
The Background: It's my first day of German class. My first German class in six years. SIX YEARS. Yikes. Somehow, I bluff my way into the C1 class. If you're familiar with the Goethe Institut grading system, that means I'm good. It means I'm very good. I'm convinced they're all imagining things. Even more so when, after I introduce myself in class on Day 1, our teacher declares me "ganz fließend." Oooh…that's a lot to live up to. Particularly, again, considering that I haven't spoken the language AT ALL in SIX YEARS.
As always, I decide to reward myself with lunch after class somehwere nice. Facil sounds nice. It has one Michelin star. And the lunch menu seems like a good value. 18 euros for one course. 28 for two courses. Knowing nothing much more than this, I go.
The Entrance: Facil is located in the Mandala Hotel. I enter, and in very proper German (with a very good accent, or so I've been told), I tell one of the staff members loitering (sexily) around the front desk that I have a reservation at Facil and can they please tell me where it is? He ignores my "ganz fließend" Deutsch and tells me to take the lift to the 5th floor–in crisp English. Bummer.
I'm met at the restaurant entrance by a very handsome and very proper Maître d'. I'm whisked quickly to my table and it is suggested (passive voice!) that I enjoy an apertif. I cannot decline. I request a glass of Sekt and I'm brought something quite lovely from Robert Weil.
The Food: My server is wonderful and speaks German to me the entire time. He is of the "He is so sweet, I want to roll him up in my pocket and take him home with me" variety. (When I write sentences like this, it becomes abundantly clear why I can never make a career out of this.) He seems excited to be alive, and I mean that in the best possible way. His enthusiasm for the food is really and truly infectious.
I'm brought a little amuse bouche of baked lamb with avocado. It's delicious. Just like the fishcakes on Saturday at Plane Food, the amuse bouche is perfectly crispy on the outside, tender on the inside.
The Starter: I ask my super-sweet server for his recommendations and he clearly, very clearly, prefers the "Labskaus von der Ente mit Yuzuemulsions und Entenhautcrumble." (Auf Englisch, that means "Labskaus (hah!) of Duck with Yuzu Emulsion and Duck Skin Crumble." I have no idea what Labskaus means, but the rest I can understand. It arrives and it's the most colorful thing I've eaten all year. I love the contrast of the little blue flowers and the egg yolk. It's a great contrast of flavors and textures as well. Really, this is very well done.
The Main: Rotbarbe mit Taschenkrebs, Papaya, und Grünem Curry." Auf Englisch, that means, "Red Mullet with Crab, Papaya, and Green Curry." Again, the server's recommendation. Sadly, this is pretty boring in comparison to the starter. It's bland. It's nice looking, but bland. But then again, maybe I just eat out too much.
The Ending: So they bring me the dessert menu and I explain that I can't have chocolate. All three desserts on the menu have chocolate, so I politely decline and just say that I'd like the bill, please. (He does suggest that the chef could make me something special, but at the time, I didn't feel like going that route.) After this conversation, my server returns to my table a few minutes later with a complementary treat from the chef–I've seen other tables get this as well. It looks suspiciously coffee- and chocolate-like to me. I ask him what's in it and he explains that it's some sort of mochaccino. I explain again…no chocolate, and no caffeine. This sort of thing, I'd argue, shouldn't happen in a Michelin-starred restaurant. But it's fine. Another server swoops in quickly with a scoop of lemon sorbet, dusted with pistachio nuts. This makes me very happy.
The Verdict: I liked it here, but you know what…I felt old. And like I should have been dining with a younger man. Shame about the sexy Swedes.