As one of Berlin’s secret ‘underground’ restaurants, just finding Cookies Cream is a serious challenge! Hidden away in a service alley behind the Westin Grand Hotel, the hunt is over when you spot the huge chandelier hanging by a door, up a few steps, framed by light bulbs. Ring the buzzer, state your reservation and in you go up the stairs to the restaurant. The loft-style building has low ceilings, exposed brickwork and an open kitchen.
Chef Stephan Hentschel, trained by Michelin-starred Michael Kempf, is imaginative with flavours and ingredients producing inventive, vegetarian and vegan haute cuisine. The menu is kept small (no rice or pasta here) the vegan option was Baked Eggplant with Fava beans, Peanuts and Poppadum (€22). Cooking aubergine can be tricky, this was perfect. Dessert was Tangerine and Black Quinoa with Buckthorn Blossom Sorbet (€11), curious but in a good way with unusual flavours. As you are taking your coat off, they will offer you water (it happened to us and I saw others being offered it before they had a chance to look at the menu) but be warned, fizzy water is €6 a bottle! The house wine (€5/glass) is very nice, Berliner beer (€3.50/bottle) was just €1 more than in the squat bar we visited the next night! For two mains, two desserts with wine and coffee the bill was €91 (£67), good value given the high quality of the food.
Cookies Cream has a kind of ‘squat chic’ with its scruffy décor and dim lighting – you may need a torch in the loo! Brainchild of nightlife guru Heinz ‘Cookie’ Gindullis, his other restaurant downstairs is called Crackers and until recently was a nightclub – although the chairs are still strong enough to dance on! I guess it’s a sign of the times that we are more interested in food than raving these days.