Facil has one * Michelin and is a modern and elegant restaurant which is part of the hotel Mandala in Potsdamer Platz. The architecture and style is classy, light and warm. The big dining room has a sliding roof, so that you on on hot days have a view to the sky and a feeling of sitting partly outside. The sense of the room is open and bright featured by the glass walls. There are small spot lights pointed at the tables, which is enhancing the cosiness of the room – and making any foodie photographer like me happy.
I went for dinner at Facil on June 9 that was a warm and sunny summer day with almost 30 degrees Celcius. I entered the minimalist style hotel on the ground floor and at the small black and discrete reception desk asked for the restaurant. One of the staff kindly replied that it was on the fifth floor (I think) and guided me to the elevator, stepped in with me, pressed the button. Counting also the lift attendant, the three of us were lifted to the restaurant level. The receptionist stepped out and walk a few steps, just enough to point me to the restaurant counter at the end of the hall way. Now, that’s what I call service!
I was seated at a table at the one end, and had view of the restaurant towards the terrasse at the other end. A small stool next to me carried my handbag and my camera.
The name of the head chef is Michael Kempf, who is very talented and learned from the Michelin star places where he worked: Wald- and Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe (D), Restaurant Fischerzunft (CH) and Restaurant Dieter Mueller (D). Michael Kempf is a young chef but already famous for his own innovative style of cooking.
I accepted the pre-dinner drink like I often do, and was served a lovely Billecart-Salmon Reserve Brut with a full nose and palate and that I enjoyed with the three appetizer I also got. I didn’t get to shoot the first one, and which I don’t remember now, but the second offered a nice gazpacho shot with caramellized sugar on the top.
Very nice and sweetish bread also arrived and with butter, a paste of pesto mixed with ricotta cheese and some tuna mousse.
The third amuse bouche was a super-tender slice of lamb with piment and green asparagus – all very nice and appetizing.
2007 Bergholt Spätlese Lössriedel
I ordered four courses and two glasses of wine selected by the sommelier. The wine list, by the way, is great and offers both a selection of wines by the glass as well as a few half bottles at reasonable prices. I asked for German wines. My first was a good Weissburgunder (aka Pinot Blanc) and it reminded me of Sauvignon Blanc with the sweetness and bit of flower but its after-taste was a little more bitter.
Langoustine and guinea fowl
The langoustine dish was excellent. I was a bit sceptical when I read guinea fowl would accompany the shell fish and I had imagined that it would be a too intense companion and would make the dish clumsy. But that wasn’t the case at all. The poultry was sliced so thin that it seemed more like a spice or a herb, and the taste was delicate and not overdosing the big, moist and lovely-tasting languostine. These full flavours were balanced with lime jellies and a tiny pieces of mint leaves on each side of the fish. Compliments to the chef for this innovative and delicious course!
Then a perfectly cooked char followed and offered a full and creamy taste with the juice. Toasted crumbles of onion and pistachios gave some character to the dish in a very nice way.
I took note of the brilliant design of the cutlery that was shapely for the form of the plate.
2004 Izadi Crianza, Rioja
To accompany the main course I was recommended a Izadi Crianza, because it had been fermented in stainless steel tank only. The sommelier told me that an oaked wine wouldn’t match the following course as much. The Izadi Crianza was 100% Temparanillio, the pleasing nose was flowery, perfumed and with tones of sweet fruit and bitterness. The palate showed fruit and an elegant, medium body. The after-taste lacked fruit in my opinion, though, to fully balance the tannin and the bitter tones which were dominating the other flavours. Overall, the wine appeared a little too simple for this level of cooking.
Pork and white asparagus
My main course comprised pork and asparagus. It’s really true! Although the colour and the look of the meat adumbrated veal, it was in fact the shoulder of a pork. One of the very best pieces of pork I have ever eaten. It was tender, full of flavour and medium-rare roasted just like I prefer. The pork was fenced by to different asparagus servings being small and fried fine white asparagus on the right and raw and thin-sliced on the left – topped with a dried tomatoes pesto. Again I experienced that an element with much flavour potential and the risk of dominating the rest actually wasn’t doing that. The tomato paste was perfectly restrained and controlled, so I almost only got the hint of what it could offer in terms of flavour and power. It worked very well with the delicate and slightly bitter taste that the asparagus had, and in a very clever way gave some sweetness to the whole dish.
The dessert was a composition of rhubarbs, raspberries with caramel, yoghurt and white chocolate. I liked it, but thought that the cake had too much dough to the amount of fruit and made the impression of the cake slightly too dry, unfortunately.
After a short break a selection of petit fours arrived, and the polite waiter offered me coffee. I asked for espresso and my expectations were fulfilled by a perfectly short one, strong and with a great aroma.
The service that night was very attentive and friendly in a not too formal but still professional way. The restaurant was about half full.
Facil has a lot to offer. I find that the concept is clear and well defined. I like the way they prioritise and economize with the food products and the price for the dinner. The wines by the glass are listed to be 10cl and are not more than that, that’s for sure. But for the price I paid I think it’s reasonable, and the advantage is for me that the small amount allows me to try a few different wines without getting (too) tipsy.
When I was leaving, I told the maître d’ that it had been a lovely experience that Ingo from the Opinionated About Dining Forum had led me to, and that I would write about on my food blog. When I offered him my very good food card he smiled and thanked me in a sincere way that thrilled me.
I left the place with happy feeling in my tummy because of an honest, dedicated and tasty food experience. Next time I’m in Berlin I will surely revisite Facil to enjoy Michael Kempf’s signature again.