I’ve been to many hotels. I’ve also eaten at many hotel restaurants. But with very rare exceptions, none of them have been in Berlin. Of course, visiting a hotel in your own city can seem a little bit redundant and decadent. But after paying a visit to Sofitel’s Le Faubourg restaurant, I might re-consider my stance.
This French restaurant has managed to combine various aspects of dining out that don’t just appeal to the connaisseurs, but also to those who want to treat themselves to a special occasion without feeling out of place. Located at the Ku’Damm, and left of the entrance of the impressive Sofitel (formerly known as Concorde Hotel), the first step inside will enshroud the visitor in a cozy atmosphere of contemporary, but quiet design. The restaurant itself is modern, sleek, but not without playfully integrating comfortable and homey details. Nico and I, who were invited to test the restaurant, were actually most impressed with the lightning interior: regardless of which table, the light will have you feel as if you’re in a very private area, disconnected from the outside world. The spotlight, figuratively, shines on the food; the vibrant colors and the mouthwatering arrangements had us drooling before we even got started.
As one would expect in a French restaurant, we were treated only to the most courteous service, with several waiters and one exemplary sommelier taking great care to explain every order and every recommendation in patient detail. We were definitely eager to listen: as much as we love food and eating out, our very fine dining experiences are usually limited to binge-watching Chef’s Table on Netflix. A lot of crying and wishful longing is also involved in these desperate moments.
I find French food normally very difficult to judge. When it comes to fine dining, it’s classic and traditional. As soon as you start messing with the perceived standard, people are disappointed. But if you stick to the same methods year in, year out, the routine will eat up your sanity. Then again, most people don’t even know what they want, but they have a clear image and very vivid expectations when they hear “French”.
Le Faubourg have solved this problem with a very interesting approach (that made it all the harder to chose from the promising menu): every main dish is prepared in two variations, one the traditional way, the other in a new, modern interpretation. Without disregarding the typical ingredients or going into a too experimental direction, this is a clever way of presenting French cuisine from all sides, made to fit any preferences, as well as adding weight to a very refined menu. There is always meat, fish and vegetarian options, as well as seasonal sides (did anyone say Spargel?).
Enough with the dry facts, let’s get enthusiastic: the mains blew our minds away. But not just the food. The wine recommendations were so on point, the combinations were so on point, we were dumbfounded. Yup, this is how it’s supposed to work: the fine nuances of the high-class beverages complementing the strong flavors of the excellent food. Food, that, is in no way complex in a mythical way. It’s understandable, even for the unschooled palate. And this wasn’t just empty salesman talk by the sommelier. Even for someone with hardly any knowledge, actually tasting differences and understanding what a professional has told you about the product – that’s a new thing. I’ll just usually skip that part because meh, it’s just a beverage – where’s the food? Well, not at Le Faubourg.
The well-balanced mix of regional ingredients with modern concepts and a relatively chill vibe (you know, considering it’s a nice restaurant and everything) made our experience a very comfortable and enjoyable one. I was a little stiff at first – what to expect, how to behave, can I wear sneakers – but all my worries were for nothing. Yes, it’s nicer-than-your-average restaurant. But the starters (not as 100% convincing as the mains, but only with negligible flaws) are made for sharing, the service is made up completely by young and cool people, nobody ever gets on your nerves and the 24-hour sous-vide beef was so good, I’d happily wear a bride’s dress and high heels if that was required for me to dine at Le Faubourg again.
But thankfully, that’s not necessary. If you’re planning a special occasion or you want to treat yourself to something different, Le Faubourg is one of our dearest recommendations.