French Cuisine in the Heart of Berlin
A visit to Michelin-starred restaurant RICHARD.
The building that bears the address of Köpenicker Straße 174 in Berlin’s lively Kreuzberg district is one that has borne witness to a rich history. Including such restaurants as Hohenzollern and Köpenicker Hof, the building has often housed culinary institutions—though, not exclusively. At the beginning of the 1940s, it was the administrative headquarters of the Nazi party and, oddly enough, home to a Jewish institution, thereafter. Presently, Köpenicker Straße 174, which seems unassuming enough from the outside, is home to RICHARD—a Michelin-starred restaurant whose modern, innovative concepts continue to add yet another intriguing layer to the site’s unique narrative.
In the restaurant, heavy, darkly hued wood ceilings and kaleidoscopic stained-glass windows—the kind of which one normally associates with Gothic cathedrals—are juxtaposed against furnishings that are decidedly more modern, like filigreed lamps that hang from the ceiling like pearls on a necklace, the result of which is an interior aesthetic that is pleasantly, harmoniously incongruous. Hanging on the walls are large paintings from contemporary artists and other decorative objects. Indeed, this is a space dedicated to the provocation of every sense. Since November 2012, this forum—part dining room, part art installation—has been the stage for Michelin-rated cuisine, and it is here that owner Hans Richard and head chef Till Bühlmann agreed to meet with Kitchen Stories and share some insights into their restaurant.
“Unpretentious, certainly chic, but not trendy,” asserts Hans Richard, a native of Switzerland, as he describes his restaurant. The very same could be said for the city that Richard now calls home. “Berlin was always the most interesting city to me,” he said. “Originally, I only knew artists here. It was very inspirational.”
As he’s preparing a tarte Tatin, head chef Till Bühlmann explains that his kitchen offers “fresh market cuisine, with an emphasis on creating quality products through excellent craftsmanship.” The dessert he’s preparing is a testament to this—it contains only five simple ingredients that he transforms into a blissful dessert.
Through RICHARD, Hans and Till have successfully brought classic French haute cuisine to Kreuzberg. For Till, the choice in cuisine has always been clear: "I have worked my entire career in French kitchens and, as a result, a deep love for the cuisine has been instilled in me. It’s part of who I am now. When asked who he’d share a meal with, had he the choice, Till replied without hesitation: "Gerard Depardieu.”
The sources of inspiration for the two culinary artists are quite different, yet equally charming and down to earth. Hans draws his inspiration from cookbooks: “Mostly those from French chefs who celebrate classic cuisine and do so elegantly, while giving the appearance of being simple, yet modern.” Till, on the other hand, is inspired by the tranquility of nature, which inspires his new creations in the kitchen.
The menu of RICHARD is fitting, indeed, for a Michelin-starred restaurant, with selections ranging from marinated "Label Rouge" salmon with avocado to guinea fowl with morels and Côte du Jura sauce. However, Hans and Till also cherish simple, quality home cooking. The homemade calf bratwurst, for example, was a childhood favorite of Hans’. Though at that time, he admits, he couldn’t imagine anything better than pizza. And Till? He has a weakness for a well-made spaghetti Carbonara.
Restaurant RICHARD demonstrates that Michelin-rated cuisine doesn’t have to be pompous. If you’re curiosity has been piqued and you’d like to learn more about the restaurant, you can find more information here!
Published on May 28, 2016