Isn't it pleasing to get on an escalator in a down-market shopping center and find a sleek museum at the top? Design students revamped the Buchstabenmuseum (the Museum of Letters) a couple of weeks ago: see the process documented here. Max, Anna and I went to the opening last weekend. It's all charcoal walls and humming neon tubes in the front rooms. In the back, I liked the exploded-out R best, showing the layers of screws, steel and glass that combine to make a glowing letter.
There is a poetry to following a visit to the Buchstabenmuseum with dinner at .HBC. The beautiful room was empty when we entered. The restaurant's enormous windows let in every last ray of light to be extracted from the cloud-creased sky. For whatever reason, I had been a little hesitant about the food, but then the three of us labored over the menu for ages, wanting to order everything. A forkful of grilled yellow watermelon detonated into layers of flavor. Were those Sichuan peppercorns studding the sweet fruit in place of seeds? Whoever had decided to so generously zest the lemon onto the accompanying goat cheese Nockerln and then add a pile of samphire had it exactly right. Same went for the judicious splash of white wine that left Max's Pfifferling risotto sparkling. I didn't understand why the truffle shaved over my mezzaluna were so dry and devoid of flavor, but the pasta itself was bursting with buttery herb-rich goodness.
After a series of back-and-forths with the endearingly goofy waitresses, we got our dessert. Kakaoerde sounded gimmicky but I loved dragging spoonfuls of dense mousse through the rubble of sesame seeds, nuts and chocolate; the pool of violet jelly at the bottom of the bowl was a little lurid and a little medicinal but I liked the way it left my tongue tingling. The four-course menu may have have gone up by €5 since .HBC opened last year, but I think €30 is still a pretty good deal.
When we went down the concrete stairs, it was raining, and a passing hen party asked us the way to Hackescher Markt. When I got home, I looked up Weingut Willems: that's how memorable a sip of their 2008 Riesling Spätlese was.