Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Lucky Leek

June 19, 2011

We'd had a number of people recommend Lucky Leek to us in very glowing terms, so we were dying to check it out while we were in town. For a while though it seemed as though we were cursed - our initial booking was cancelled because their chef was unwell, we turned up without a booking a couple of nights later to find that the staff had all been sent home to watch the football and then they were closed on Monday night. Our final shot was Tuesday - the night before we left. Our day had been pretty disappointing - Chipps hadn't rocked breakfast, the cafe we headed to for lunch was closed, the place we ate instead was overpriced and had ridiculously bad service, and the contemporary art gallery we went to in the afternoon was pretty patchy (although the Anthony McCall room was fantastic). Anyway, a lot was pinned on Lucky Leek working out for us. As we wandered up Kollwitzstrasse at about 7pm we saw a lot of full tables out the front and began to get worried. But finally, luck was on our side - everyone was just enjoying the sunshine and there were still plenty of tables indoors (although within an hour or so it was basically chockers).

There's maybe room for twenty people in there, with a pleasant enough fit-out of cute silhouettes on the walls and a large toy sheep parked by the kitchen (not pictured sadly).

The (very friendly) waiter dropped off some bread and an astoundingly good smoked bean dip while we perused the menus. It's not huge: two soups, two starters, three mains and two desserts, but everything sounded so wonderful that we were keen to sample as much as possible. We decided to hit up one starter, a couple of mains and both desserts.

First up, the spiced Balinesian tofu with a chive pancake, chilli cucumbers and tomato salsa (7.9€ ~ AU$9.80).

The pancake reminded me a bit of the blinis I enjoyed so much at Fressen in Toronto - it was a bit puffy and quite soft. The real highlight was the tofu though - marinated in a wonderful and slightly spicy concoction, which worked well with the salsa and fresh, crispy salads.

The first of the mains was the daily special: seitan medallions with walnut crackle, rucola potato mash, ratatouille vegetables and cranberry jus (13.9€ ~ AU$17.20).

I really liked this. The seitan was nicely textured and not too dry, with plenty of flavour from the walnut crackle and the cranberry jus to make it more interesting than just a chunk of faux-meat. The mash and other veggies were great as well - as with most of our meals in Berlin I had to stop halfway through this to swap with Cindy. It wasn't easy.

Our second main was the gratinated tomato walnut canneloni, with grilled zucchini, bell pepper bechamel, pear and chicory (12.9€ ~ AU$16)

This wasn't quite as good as the seitan dish - the canneloni filling was tasty enough but didn't have the depth of flavour that we were hoping for following the previous two dishes. It was still an excellent meal though, with the vegan bechamel a particularly impressive component.

We ordered both of the desserts, starting with the peach and white chocolate mousse, with hazelnut slice and toffee sauce (6.9€ ~ AU$8.50).

The mousse was nice and creamy (although maybe not quite up to the high standards set by Kopps), and the various components of this dish were all pretty tasty, although nothing really stood out.

More impressive was the caramelised lime tarte with mango yoghurt ice cream (6.9€ ~ AU$8.50).

The mango ice cream was probably the star, combining fruitiness and creaminess in an impressively vegan package. The slice was nice enough but both Cindy and I would have been more excited by something more chocolatey.

We were very glad we finally made it to Lucky Leek before leaving Berlin. It's a nice, slightly high-end vegan place with excellent, friendly service, an interesting menu prepared well and a lovely atmosphere. If we only had one night in town, we'd probably go back to Kopps, but Lucky Leek wouldn't be too far behind.

Lucky Leek is universally loved - check out: My Veggie Pill (German), Kikkertterroristen (Norwegian), Berlin Is(s)t Organic (German), A Cherry On Top (German), A Finn in Berlin, Tofu Jen, TheKua Does Food, Vegan Mage (Swedish), släng dig veggen! (Swedish), Until We Eat Again, xleiax (Swedish) and Food Worm (German).

Lucky Leek
Kollwitzstrasse 46, Prenzlauerberg, Berlin
030 66408710
appetisers 7.9€ ~ AU$9.80, mains 12.9€ ~ AU$16, desserts 6.9€ ~ AU$8.50

Accessibility: The interior of Lucky Leek is down a small flight of stairs and is relatively crowded (although the table next to us did manage to make it in with a pram). The outside tables have bench seats and can be accessed without the steps. There's full table service.

The (excellent) Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

The Hamburger Bahnhof Museum for Contmporary Art (in an old train station)

Part of the Anthony McCall exhibit, Five Minutes of Pure Sculpture

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