I had been meaning to get to Renger-Patzsch in Schöneberg almost since I moved back to Berlin last December. I kept hearing how good it was, from newspaper reviews to radio reports to friends' recommendations. Well-executed German cuisine, seasonal cooking from local purveyors, genial atmosphere, fair prices, and on the corner of one of the prettiest streets in Berlin to boot. But something kept getting in the way, until Max finally made a reservation for us a few weeks ago, for a little celebration of sorts.
I loved the room - long and simply furnished, the walls hung with black and white photography by Albert Renger-Patzsch, a German photographer for whom the restaurant is named (the owner of the restaurant inherited the photography from his grandfather who'd been friends with Renger-Patzsch). According to the restaurant's website, one of Renger-Patzsch's photographs hangs in the MoMA, which made me feel all, I don't know, connected. Who knows.
Most of the menu changes daily, but the restaurant also serves a whole slew of different Flammekuchen, which are a permanent fixture on the menu. (They're nicely priced, filling, and with a glass of wine, make for a very good, budget dinner.)
I also really liked the atmosphere. There was a good mix of young families, girlfriends dining tête-à-tête, sharing a Flammekuchen, older folks having a fancy dinner together and the two of us, among other couples. It was relaxed, without pretension, but still felt special. The perfect place to celebrate, say, a wedding anniversary, like the pair next to us with their bookworm children, or just to have a good meal together and a long catch-up chat.
We drank dry cidre as we contemplated the menus and ate good, crusty bread. We shared an appetizer of sautéed octopus on a shaved fennel salad with roasted cherry tomatoes, which was delicious. It's not that easy to cook octopus properly, so that it stays tender and yielding - most places don't get it right. Renger-Patzsch did.
The eggplant Flammekuchen with feta and capers has a thin, crackly base and they used restraint with the topping. Still, I don't know how Max finished the whole thing; it was intense.
I had duck from Brandenburg with little dices of quince, luscious gravy, a kind of Brussels sprout hash and two slices of Serviettenknödel, lightly browned and crisp. The meat was outstanding, tender and melty and rich with flavor, especially paired with the deep, dark gravy and the sweet quince. The Knödel slices and vegetable hash were fine, a little predictable, perhaps.
But on the whole, I loved our meal. (The waitstaff was attentive and prompt without being stuffy, the bill was fair.) If we lived a little closer to Schöneberg, I'd do my darndest to make this place our Stammtisch. I'll settle for it being our special-occasion place. I can't wait to go back.
(030) 784 20 59