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ETA Hoffmann

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(photo taken from the E.T.A. Hoffmann website)

I'd never really noticed E.T.A. Hoffmann, though I must have passed it every day for the few weeks I lived in Yorckstraße. (Of course in 2001 fancy meals were neither on my radar nor within my means.) Flipping through Zitty's restaurant guide a few weeks ago, though, David and I immediately took note of ETA Hoffmann's three-course vegetarian menu for 25 (now 27) EUR. It is seldom simple for vegetarians to celebrate with fancy meals, and we starred their entry with an eye to our upcoming anniversary.

It can be soothing not to have to choose, and the vegetarian Überraschungsmenu (or surprise menu) allowed us to lean back and talk and drink our wine while course followed course, an artichoke heart gratineed with soft goat's cheese, a savoy cabbage strudel on a bed of roasted root vegetables, and a trio of sweets to end: date chocolate strudel, a boozy scoop of chocolate parfait, and firm cubes of pear, with two pitchers of bean-specked vanilla custard to pour on top (or into our spoons). Each dish - sweeping platters of German porcelain - was dotted with sauces in a way that I immediately appreciated as the Fancy Restaurant touch, from the balsamic emulsion that punctuated our opening salad to the almost-sweet cream sauce underlying the celeriac and parsley root to the bright mint dots that united our final course.

In notable contrast to the relaxed (verging on indifferent) service I've come to expect, even enjoy in Berlin restaurants, everyone here was attentive to a fault, topping glasses and whisking plates onto and off the table with alacrity, murmuring "but your dessert is on its way" when I was exiting to visit the ladies room. Of course, that's the sort of thing that makes it feel like an occasion.

E.T.A. Hoffmann, Yorckstraße 83 (map)
Tel. + 49 30 780 98809, [email protected] (Reservations are certainly a good idea; note that they've got a non-smoking section, which as of now is still a rarity.)
Open Wed to Mon from 5 pm

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