Spy novelist John le Carre has often found inspiration among the wooden tables and slightly worn lounges of the Cafe Adler. Although the cold war is long over, from behind Cafe Adler's windows diners still have an unrivalled view of what used to be Checkpoint Charlie. The food has little in the way of competition either. I had a flawless Euro20 (HK$203) potato salad crushed just so, dressed simply in salt and mild vinaigrette and served with two frankfurters. I wrapped up with a thick, creamy melange (milky coffee) in a cup so large that I thought it was soup.
77 Unter den Linden
Overlooking the grand if melancholy Brandenburg Gate, this famous restaurant is part of the equally celebrated Hotel Adlon (right). A luxurious place with a semi-open kitchen, posh linen on the tables and a terrace, it takes German cuisine to an almost unheard of flamboyant level, although one bite of its mousse of turbot topped with dill and raspberry sauce is enough to change staid minds. Other delights include the mountain lentil terrine with goats' cheese mousse and paprika pesto (Euro22).
Inside Florian's doors, well-heeled regulars enjoy a smoky version of 1920s Berlin complete with blood-red banquette seating and off-white walls splashed with modern art. And the handwritten menus are scrawled with a selection unashamedly heavy on the meat. I was tempted by the calves' liver with calvados butter, onions and apple puree (Euro17) while my companion aimed for the wild pork cutlets with shoots of green beans and garlic (Euro18). Busy - and sometimes loud - this is the place for group gatherings and people watching.
Stepping into Alt Luxemburg is like walking into an old German parlour with huge, wrought- iron lamps, mirrors and dark wood fittings. Although it uses traditional ingredients, the menu has been adapted for modern tastes. The deer with juniper sauce is one of the outstanding dishes, the sauce perfectly matching a meat that finds favour in some central European countries. Accompanying the peerless food is a strong collection of European wines. This is the place for special occasions, a four-course a la carte meal costing Euro62.
First Floor, Hotel Palace Berlin
The Michelin-starred First Floor is a highly glamorous place in which to grapple with some of the more visceral aspects of German cooking. The marinated calf's head with lentil vinaigrette (Euro24) and fried goose liver with papaya (Euro23) might sound scary, but both dishes were cooked so well that all squeamishness instantly disappeared. The beautiful interior makes the German 'meat experience' more enjoyable here than in the standard Berlin bierhalle.