Thursday, October 21, 2010

little otik

Little Otik

(interview with little otik -they smile more in person).

so the great thing about hanging out with colleagues, is that unlike every other berliner i know, they actually have jobs, and so they don't mind dropping (gasp!) 30€ on a dinner once in a while.
so a colleague and i, we went to little otik. on a friday. tiny restaurant in a fashionable part of east Kreuzberg. no seats available at the 2 big picnic tables, 2 2/4 tops or the 2 top in the window. no parties of more than 6 people allowed. a big long beautiful recycled wooden bar that always seems to have room if you like sitting at a bar. i like sitting at a bar.
it's run by 2 american dudes from michigan and new york, who don't speak much german. they told me what little otik stands for, but i forgot. i think it's related to the creepy movie of the same title where they carve a piece of wood into a baby and pretend it's a baby or something. (will watch this asap).

yes, creepy
anyway, the cook guy used to work at Diner in Williamsburg. he came to visit his friend in berlin and they started a supper club. and then they, like anyone else who realizes how easy it is to open something in berlin were like duh, we should open a restaurant in berlin.
they found a portuguese cafe at a nice address that was closing down and haggled with the owner to rent it cheap (well, rent is already stupid cheap in berlin) - cheap and with everything in it. most of the kitchen was already there. they sold all the chairs, tables, bar stuff and a collection of mini fridges, then gutted and painted the dining room to convert it to an extremely simple, kinda echoey space with not much on the walls besides a few mirrors. (a stark contrast to the baubble you might find adorning every vertical surface of a buca di beppo's).
they are closed sunday, monday, (ah, european style) and on tuesday they go to the farmer's market down the street and buy all the organic, local items from farmers. stuff like wild boar bacon and heirloom tomatoes, duck. then they plan the menu, and open wednesday-saturday. packed every night, call weeks ahead for a reservation. pretty cheap eats, a little pricey on the wines. we bought an entire bottle instead - now that's good economics!

but my friend told them you can't get away with charging minimum 6€ for a glass of wine, berliners usually don't go for that. but it looks like they can and berliners are going for it. jerks. they better not ruin the median 2.50 € huge wine glasses i'm getting used to...we recommended a wine shop they should talk to (the same one we had just previously turned into a bistro by chatting, tasting wine, and forgetting it's just a store, must pay and leave now).
so we had the last of heirloom tomatoes (a freeze this weekend), perfect, simple, coarse salt. ate the super delish no salt needed chicken n dumplings, and an amazing turnip soup with smoked wild boar bacon that was just awesome. fried zuccini blossoms or something like that. lemony. crunchy. they were very stingy on the bread (and yeah, we recommended a better bakery and they should probably switch from baguette to ciabatta or something. germans know their bread, you can serve stale baguette. or get a toaster!!).
they make coffee themselves on the bar in these plastic filter things from taiwan and a plug in water boiler, and cross their fingers in the hope that no one ever orders more than 4 at a time. (drank it without milk and i was up ALL night. good stuff, though i would recommend a french press. afterall, i am franzosich!).
all the plates, mugs are eitehr from ikea or the german target. cash only. 4 employees total (someone in the kitchen and a german girl for front of the house). every order written on notebook paper, no computers.
so that's pretty much your typical, ok let's open a restaurant and do this right and low key and not bother with liquor licenses kinda place.
though in the back of my mind i was thinking about wrestling the property away from the owners (perhaps a duel or betting it in poker, or sending in my own litte otik to scare them away?) and installing my brother as chef, but then, i think my brother can do even better...