After way too many months, I finally made it into a kitchen again – and this time into one, I’ve been wanting to cover for quite some time: the kitchen of Pauly Saal, a very fine dining restaurant located inside of Mädchenschule on Auguststraße.
Head chef Michael Höpfl first draw my interest when he served me a perfect vegetarian lunch – in contrast to other upscale restaurants, where ordering vegetarian will still give you pitiful looks, this one didn’t feel like a diminished version of a meat dish but a fully developed composition. This is certainly also based on Höpfl’s time at Margaux Berlin, where the head chef Michael Hoffmann serves a vegetable-only menu among others.
I do have a great affection for Pauly Saal’s approach to food overall – they use only seasonal and local produce to create contemporary versions of long-time classics and I was eager to see how it all comes together.
Michael Höpfl gave me an extensive tour through the kitchen and storage, explaining the methods of sourcing their produce or creating a stock of pickled fruits and vegetables to use during the year. Pauly Saal works with a lot of small producers, fishers, farmers and hunters that deliver their goods directly to them. Instead of ordering French fish, for instance, they convinced a fisher from the Baltic sea to buy a truck and bring them his catch on a weekly basis. Just recently they’ve found a woman delivering acacia blossoms of which some are currently made into syrup, others are candied and used on desserts. Did you know one can eat acacia blossoms just fresh? They’ve got a delicious sweet center and slightly tart petals.
Joining chefs in a kitchen is something very inspiring and quite exciting to me since a certain routine is coming together with an increased awareness for details creating a thrilling atmosphere. The passion that goes into the food making, the will to create contemporary dishes within the limitations of what is available in this area is defining Pauly Saal’s kitchen. Michael Höpfl’s thriving creativity meets a humble down-to-earthness and I can’t wait to go back. For now, please enjoy the photos.