CODA is a very inconspicuous place. Its facade doesn’t give away whether it’s a bar, a restaurant, or whether it’s even open. I passed by a couple of times without acknowledging its existence, thinking it must be just another bar. But in fact, CODA is the first dessert bar in Berlin. To be specific: in Neukölln.
When I finally managed to visit the place, I didn’t quite know what was ahead of me. A dessert-restaurant? Isn’t that just a café with alcohol? Am I going to eat tiramisu here? Pastries? Pies? I can assure you that my expectations were wrong. CODA is not merely a bar or a restaurant, it is a culinary experience.
5 course dessert menu and drinks
At CODA, you can order a five course dessert menu with a drink pairing (or mix and match from the menu however you want). The concept is not only outstanding for a very fine tuned work approach between bar and kitchen. The dishes in question are subject to a very broad definition of ‘dessert’. CODA is certainly not just for people with a sweet-tooth, it’s borderline experimental fine-dining.
Pastry chef René Frank relies on legumes, vegetables and fruit to deliver the sweetness of his dishes. Small portions of amazing textures and flavors culminate in every dish to a piece of edible greatness. Although I didn’t love all of the dishes I tried on my first visit (the sheep’s milk cheese was too much, but to be fair, I wouldn’t like it in any dish), I certainly appreciated the courage and the novelty of CODA.
Almost every plate at CODA left me longing for more. Now here’s a tradition I’d like to see gone soon: small plates for dessert. I want bowls of that stuff.
I spot a local trend when it comes to desserts. Much like other newcomers in the fine dining scene (for example, Panama restaurant and Nobelhart & Schmutzig), CODA doesn’t treat the last course of a meal like an afterthought. It is considered a vital protagonist, although rarely made with sugar.
Instead, ingredients from parsley root to red beet are used as sources of sweetness. My muffin top and I really appreciate the efforts. I won’t spoil the menu for you, though. One of the great aspects of CODA, I believe, is not knowing what to expect.
Unlike others, CODA puts a lot of weight on the artisan craft of gastronomy. Almost everything in the bar is home-made, from the light ginger most to the fermented garlic which is used in my favorite dessert, the pistachio and parsley root crème. That’s why the drinks menu is also comparably small (or as we Germans like to say, Klein aber Fein). René Frank tells me they are working on their own home-made Tonic, so they can add Gin Tonic to the menu. That’s indeed passionate!
CODA: A new addition of cool to Neukölln
The puristic approach of the desserts and drinks – only listing 3 ingredients in the menu – is reflected in the design of the restaurant, which holds itself to almost austere standards. Dark walls, spotlights, concrete tables and an open kitchen fall exactly into the casual fine dining categories that have been re-invented in Berlin.
CODA is also trying to keep it simple in terms of brand names: you won’t see any on either menu or behind the bar. Everyone is invited to CODA with an open mind, and not to be restricted by habits.
Many in my circle of friends made snarky remarks about CODA being in Neukölln. Considering the prices, it’s justified to say that a place like this still seems a bit alienating in Reuterkiez. And yet I’m glad it’s not another run of the mill bar, or God help us, another store that sells homemade baby clothing or 90’s vintage.
Chef René Frank ensures that they are closely working together with others in the Kiez to integrate their work – the plates are from Neukölln, their cheese distributors are just around the corner, and the place is not trying to impose itself on the neighborhood. You can barely even see it from the street, and maybe that’s not a bad thing.
For the typical night out, CODA is just on the way to the bars of Weserstraße, and worth a quick stop. For a weekend treat, book yourself a full-course menu for a date or your visiting parents. For vegetarians, CODA is a great option, and even vegans will currently enjoy at least two dishes from the menu.
5 course menu with drink pairing: 67€ (39€ without pairing)
3 course menu with drink pairing: 40€ (24€)