Over the years my husband and I have been to many fine restaurants, some good, others very good but only a few have captured our excitement for the best ingredients cooked simply to perfection….The Berlin is one such restaurant!
On a perfect Saturday evening in August on our tour of the Waterloo region we were fortunate enough to enjoy a truly memorable culinary experience. The Berlin is on a main street in the heart of Kitchener about 1 hour from Toronto ….I know, you’re thinking where? But there is a reason why Chef Jonathan Gushue chose here of all places and that’s for the abundance of local farms producing the best organic vegetables and carefully raised meats, impossibly fresh. It is why the chef and his highly talented team are able to create what we consider to be the best dishes we have ever had!
As we entered the large, high ceilinged open air space, we were offered a chefs bar table at the very back of the restaurant but front row to the open kitchen where we could witness the most amazing theatre of food preparation. This was our first time ever seeing up close how skillful the chef and his team work so efficiently and gracefully together….believe me, it really is mesmerizing to watch and if you ever get the chance I highly recommend to have dinner at a chefs bar, especially this one.
After ordering a light cocktail and some wine from an impressive collection I decided to go with the 4 course tasting menu where as my husband was so excited to try some more unusual choices from the main menu. The common theme of both menus ( that change daily ) is cooking on a live wood grill which the chef uses extensively to bring out the natural caramelization of ingredients and it works so well as does the choice of preparing almost everything in house including bread and the butter, even the meat is delivered whole and butchered in house! When this much care is given to the product, it can only make the meal even better ….and it does !
During our meal, in a rare moment of pause, chef Jonathan came over to our table with a surprise appetizer he wanted us to taste and explained his dish and what his influences are…honestly, it was a moment for us both because he was so charming and friendly and not what you would expect in such a highly demanding environment, in fact the whole evening we noticed just how calm he was and it carried throughout the kitchen with his team.
To try to describe in detail here the excellence of each course and the exquisite desserts would be impossible but the one thing we noticed in almost every dish is how the ingredients come alive with bursts of flavour and this is what made our meal so different than what we’ve ever had before. Imagine after every first bite of a dish both looking at each other and saying WOW, we must have said the word a dozen times during our meal but we couldn’t help it …it was just that good, really good!
It was hard to leave this place but when we did we thanked the chef for our incredible dinner, he pointed to his team and humbly responded “thank them, they did all the work” and at that moment we understood that it’s a team that makes the vision of a chef come to life, so we thank all of them for our truly memorable night.
No doubt this is a world class restaurant but it’s never pretentious and has a casual and inviting feel that let’s you enjoy the amazing food the way you want. Chef Jonathan made this choice to deliver the best experience at a reasonable price point to make it accessible to anyone who loves quality farm-to-table cuisine. It’s moments like these where I really love blogging because I love being able to share an incredible experience like this. So my final word on The Berlin…..you must go! I promise you will be blown away and with several excellent hotels in the area why not make it a dine and stay and enjoy this vibrant city.
Thank you to The Berlin for an exceptional meal.