Facil (Berlin)

Facil Berlin

Sitting in the airy floor-to-ceiling windowed dining room, it’s difficult not to relax. On the fifth floor of the Mandala Hotel, Facil is encapsulated in the center courtyard, so the hustle of Berlin is momentarily forgotten. The walls and roof opens to allow diners to experience the beautiful outdoor garden. What a wonderful way to dine on Chef Michael Kempf’s fresh cuisine: comfortable and without pre-cautions, just like you’re seated in an outdoor oasis.

After working in numerous fine-dining establishments in Germany, Kempf took over Facil’s kitchen in 2003. In his first year, Facil was awarded a coveted Michelin star, solidifying Kempf’s status as Berlin’s youngest Michelin-starred chef at 26. His second star would arrive a decade later, and he already is striving for the third, as he recently told Tebla Magazine.

Facil’s menu changes monthly as new ingredients proliferate, but it always includes his favourite ingredient – octopus. When experiencing the dish, you can taste his commitment to the ingredient: the octopus is so tender it eats like scallop. The seafood’s natural delicate sweetness is enhanced by a tangy bean ragout studded with ham. Roasted artichokes, a long-time friend of seafood, balance the dish.

To start, a marinated mackerel with pickled vegetable amuse-bouche done with a Danish flare. The cube of rich fish was lightened with crème fraiche, citrus oil and dill.

Conversely, the yellow fin mackerel ceviche is so delicate fish is reminiscent of Japanese hamachi. Luckily, my husband and I each got our own as sharing would test to our marriage. The fillets, left relatively neutral compared to the traditional acidic ceviche, are flavoured with fresh coriander broth, crunchy vinegary radish shavings and dollops of savoury cream. Crunchy macadamia nuts add an oily crunch that contrasts against the soft mackerel.

True to its German roots, Facil knows how to prepare pork. The Farmer Beuthe’s woolly pig dish features the braised shoulder of the animal. The Mangalica pig gets its “woolly” distinction from its hairy coat. As a lard breed, it has a high fat content; the shoulder is so marbled it puts another pig’s belly to shame.

Dessert ended on a savoury note with a selection of raw milk cheeses. Facil asks for taste preferences first and I immediately announce my penchant for lighter varietals and avoiding blue cheese. Three generous slices of European cheeses were presented with a selection of textures: a hard neutral slightly crumbly one, a dense creamy type with an aged cheddar quality to it and an oozing velvety brie.

The cheese was accompanied by bread slices, which by this time I’ve had my fair share of. Facil’s bread is fantastic - fresh from the oven so its nutty yeasty aroma arrives even before the basket reaches the table. Its airy centre and crunchy exterior rendered us momentarily speechless as it was difficult to utter more than the occasional “this is amazing” before scarfing down another bite.

For an art lover, the Charles Green Shaw may be a more suitable dessert, its mousse cake and wafer design paying homage to the late painter’s abstract art. The smooth base, a cross between panna cotta, light cheese cake and coconut cream pie, mix sweet and savoury elements.

The final petit fours consisted of a forgettable dense vanilla raspberry cupcake paired with lovely salted caramel chocolates, which incorporated crunchy orbs of cookies with the cream inside.

Facil offers a choice of several courses (lunch incrementally priced at 19€, 34€ or 45€ for one to three-courses, with additional dishes for 15€). Kempf wants to give everyone the ability to experience the food, even if one course is all you can afford. Approachability is what Facil is about, from the spacious easy-going surroundings to the no dress-policy attitude (customers are warmly welcomed to dine in jeans).

Kempf is challenging the bias that German fare consists of meats doused in rich sauces and overcooked vegetables. Instead, he takes the locally sourced ingredients and showcases them with a modern European flair. The fact that you’re dining in a bamboo forest in the middle of Berlin? That’s just icing on the Black Forest cake.

Overall mark - 9 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Berlin, Germany
 Address: Potsdamer Str. 3 (5th floor of the Mandala Hotel)
 Website: www.facil.de

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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