In our last issue Sebastian Frank (Horváth Restaurant) had good things to say about his neighbour Matthias Gleiß and his cuisine at Volt. Berlin&I decided to pay Gleiß a visit in his restaurant in Kreuzberg and asked him which recommendations he would serve up.
With all its brick and metal in the walls of the disused relay station, Volt at first glance may seem a little on the ubercool side. It could just as well be another ultra-hip restaurant in New York or London. Sit down at one of the slightly rustic tables neatly positioned under a huge spherical copper lampshade, and you get a distinct sense of cordiality. And then it catches your eye, nestled in the menu between delicacies like cucumber sorbet or blood sausage ravioli with cabbage: the Berlin Bulette (meatball). Chef Matthias Gleiß does that sort of thing on purpose. Volt, he says, wants to revive childhood memories, convey a sense of fun in traditional dishes that are served with noblesse and are truly appetizing. “It’s my take on modern German cuisine: classics in a different garb. For example, we also have a traditional German cake called Bienenstich on the menu. It’s all about arousing associations with our childhood. In winter, we have lentil soup with quail breast on the menu; and veal chops too, which is hardly served anymore these days.”
On the 7th October, it will have been exactly one year since Gleiß took over Volt. In the restaurant’s former guise as HH Mueller, Gleiß was head chef too. However, when the opportunity came up to take over the premises, he didn’t hesitate one bit. Together with his two colleagues Florian Pehle and Ilja Wolf-Bauwens, the three turned the place around and created something completely new. Although Gleiß lives out in Berlin-Mahlsdorf with his wife and four children, he has shown in Volt that he fully identifies with the atmosphere in Kreuzberg. A glance into the menu shows that Gleiß has a heart for vegetarians – of whom it is said there are few among the neighborhood’s old baby boomers. “We have a large proportion of vegetarian guests among our customers; it’s the zeitgeist. On the level at which we work, it is rare for vegetarian dishes to get any form of emphasis. I have long been thinking about doing a vegetarian menu, where you can choose from a selection of meat and fish recommendations to go with the dishes.” Whether it is these sorts of innovative ideas that he has been nominated for this year’s “Newcomer of the Year” by the Berliner Meisterköche award remains to be seen. For now, here are his restaurant recommendations.
When I have friends over I like taking them to this burger joint by Schlesisches Tor. It’s housed in an old public toilet. The location is one of a kind, and the burgers are all freshly prepared. The nice thing is that you have to pull a number for your order – it feels like in a municipal office. Coledampf’s at Kollwitzplatz I love going to markets. And on Kollwitzplatz you’re always bound to bump into the odd colleague or two. Right by Kollwitzplatz with its playground, coledampfs is famous for its lunches. I also go there to buy my cookbooks.
Die Spindel in Friedrichshagen was already around in GDR times. From the outside, the restaurant may look a little traditional and grand, but on the inside you could call it elegantly rustic. They serve traditional German cuisine with a hint of the international; their asparagus dishes are superb. But they’ll serve a bouillabaisse salad too.
I like to go to Ishin with my wife, because we’re both big sushi fans. I rarely find the time to make it myself. At noon, Ishin can get packed, and I do mean crowded. With all the Asians who go there, it actually feels a little like you’re in Japan.
The things they get up to there are indescribable. They are unremitting in their experimentation, constantly tinkering about, perfecting this and that. You really do notice a real team has grown together in the last ten years. Michael Kempf’s cuisine is incredibly inspiring; it doesn’t repeat itself and instils a sense of continuity and confidence.