Update June 2014, unfortunately, Feliu closed doors.
When ‘explaining’ Berlin to newcomers, I often tell a story from when I worked for a Berlin city guide and called a new restaurant about their opening hours only to be met with gruff suspicion: Why did I want to know? And what would I do with this information? And although the commercial climate here has changed a little since that conversation almost six years ago, some of our favorite locations would still prefer to fly under the digital radar, relying exclusively on passersby and Kiez word-of-mouth, all not to alienate Berlin’s notoriously anti-branding customers.
Then there are other places, places really making an effort to make a bigger blip online. Feliu, for instance, insisted we come down to Pflügerstrasse, graciously offering us an evening of Catalan cuisine and tart white wine. The truth is, I’d eaten there before a couple of months ago, and had found some dishes uneven (the vegetarian dishes I ordered were concoctions without much depth) and others delicious enough to order a second plate – yet I’m getting ahead of myself.
I’d taken some pictures the last time, but those had all turned out a little too Game of Thrones, all flame lit and foreboding – no wonder, as Feliu’s interior is done in classic shades of Neukölln. This time I booked an earlier reservation, just as the restaurant opened, and my charming Canadian co-diner and I were joined by the restaurant’s enthusiastic PR man, who speedily stepped out of the way every time the server arrived to allow my camera some uninterrupted strands of daylight on the gorgeously presented plates.
The menu appeared to be unchanged since last time (I don’t know about you, but I tend to worry when menus come preprinted, or without daily/weekly specials, as it suggests an inflexible kitchen), but we were assured they were just waiting on Berlin’s weather to catch up with the season to introduce new and more summery dishes. As I’d noticed previously, the appetizers are the best here, and plenty sunny themselves, with a simple roasted eggplant, marinated salmon, and soft tuna tataki all hitting smooth notes accented by bright Asian touches like miso and wasabi. It made me eager to come back and try the ceviche (a big personal favorite, and a true test of any kitchen’s fish supplier). For our main course, the Canadian wisely chose a juicy piece of Iberian pork, whereas I took a gamble on a Barcelona version of paella, fideuà de marisc, a Feliu specialty, I’m told.
Made with vermicelli noodles instead of rice, this was a slight disappointment, as the shellfish and seafood that should have suffused it with flavor was just not on point, making for a slightly chewy and monotonous experience. Still, all was to be fixed when dessert time came around – by which point the place had filled up impressively – and not just because we were on our third bottle. The mandarin ice cream obviously tasted delicious paired with an Aperol syrup and I’m told the slice of black chocolate tart was similarly lovely with its creamy shot of saffron/white chocolate sauce. At the end of the night, then, we left in high spirits and satisfied in the knowledge Feliu is a very welcome new exception to Neukölln’s foodie scene, one that’s not necessarily known for finer dining.