There are many very good restaurants that offer delicious food and fine wines. These restaurants have a classy interior, a great pr and an overall high level quality. But what is the point of all that if the service sucks and you get the feeling that you are more of a parasite than a welcomed guest? For me the service is extremely important and I am very picky when it comes to that. I want to have the feeling that I am a very special guest but at the same time like an old friend. I want the staff to know what I want without me having to tell them. I want to have privacy but not be neglected. I dont need some waitress that tells me who she is and what she likes if I have not asked her.
As you can see I can be a difficult guest. ;-)
Nevertheless, I have been to restaurants that offered me the exact service that I wish and look for. Therefore I know that IT IS possible and can not except anything else anymore. And I don not care if the restaurant has a Michelin Star or is some beach bar in Costa Rica.
Service can save and destroy all the good work that comes out of the kitchen within a bite.
With the same expectations I went to Le Cochon Bourgeois on saturday. A French restaurant at the border between Berlin Kreuzberg and Neukölln. Not as hip as Mitte or Prenzlauerberg, but this area has culinary wise a wide selection of good places. Le Cochon Bourgeois is located on a quiet street and has a nice little terrace which seats around 20 people. The inside has space for another 40-50 people. The design is decent and the focus is on the food and service...and I am glad it is.
They offer menus. You can choose between a 3-course menu to a 5-course menu. The price ranges between 40€ and 60€ and there is an extra charge of 5€-12€ for certain dishes. Their wine list is quite long and offers only french wine. As an aperitiv some of us chose Kir Royal, Lillet Blanc or Spritz. And here comes a nice part...they did not know Spritz! Even though I am a fan of Spritz during summer and drink it quite often, I thought it was great that they did not care about current trends and sticked to classical French drinks for their menu. Nevertheless we explained the ingredients and everybody got a drink. As a wine I can recommend the Chablis from the Bourgogne for 33€ a bottle.
With enough to chose from for our glasses, we started the dinner. As a starter we had Oysters "Fin de Claire" with vinegraitte, a salad nicoise, sea scallops or a "Blutwurst". One word: perfect. After the starter we got a "little gift" from the kitchen with two different kind of Matjes to taste from and a self made potato chip.
As the main course we had entrecote, veal filet, brook trout or veal cheaks. The best part about it was that Regis (our waiter) brought a huge piece of entrecote and cut it into pieces right in front of us. And I am talking biiig pieces. Lucky me I was sitting next to two lovely ladies so that there was a bit left for me as well next to the trout I ordered. One word again: perfect.
The desert was the perfect ending of this culinary firework. We had creme brulee, peach with ice cream and iced champagne foam and a cherry tarte with mousse au chocolat.
I simply could not stop eating thats how good it was. Meanwhile we had almost every waiter (there were 4 in total) mostly taking care of our table, we knew their names and it was a very professional but also warm a friendly athmosphere. They always knew when to leave us alone or ask if we need something more. The small little misunderstandings with too many knives or to few glasses were quickly forgotten after an honest smile and appology. We really felt like we have been there a trillion times and not the first time.
As a digestive Regis brought us Marc de Bourgogne...which was really strong. Not bad, but a bit strong...he and Ann-Kristin, another one of our waitresses, did not mind and drank one with us! A couple espressos and a glas of water later, they introduced us to a new drink which he called the "atomic bomb", not because it was bright green (it was bright blue), but because it was tricky...50% vodka, some mint juice and a bit of water...you could not taste how strong it was, but it was really good (especially perfect if you had some garlic and still felt like kissing the night away...). I only wanted to have a small one to taste it, and I have not even finished it, when Regis came around the corner with a big smile and saying: "I knew you would like it", and gave me another "normal sized" one for free. A second round of the atomic bombs came and we felt like at home...later we saw that we did not have to pay for any of them.
Slowly everybody else left and we were the only guests left. Since that night it was their last night before holidays, they are all on a 2 week holiday now and the restaurant is closed for that time, they were all in an especially good mood. I was curious to see the kitchen and Benjamin Stöckel, the maitre de la cuisine and owner of the restaurant showed me around, explained that during holiday they are renovating the kitchen and we had an interesing and great chat about french cuisine, restaurants in berlin and their critics. He is born and bred in Berlin Kreuzberg and a very interesting and cool guy. A typical Kreuzberger with an affinity to french life and food.
After sitting with the staff at the bar, having another round of vine and getting to know them better, I realized that this is what good service is about: Perfection in detail with the right amount of coolness and friendlyness. If you feel more like a friend than just a guest, than they are doing something right. I will for sure go back soon and can only recommend everyone to try it yourself!
To sum it up: The food was excellent, the drinks very good and the service perfect for this kind of group and evening. The prices are high but worth every cent. It is not a place you can go for a quick bite, but rather as a group as we were or for a romantic dinner. They have even a piano player which plays all kinds of songs during dinner. Make sure to make a reservation and take either enough cash or your cash card since they do not accept credit cards.
Thank you to Franziska, Nicole, Benjamin, Sebastian and Paul for joining me and making it again a special evening!
Le Cochon Bourgeoise
10967 Berlin - Kreuzberg
Tel: 030 / 693 01 01
Here some more impressions: