We were having dinner at our favourite restaurant right around the corner in Bötzowstraße 39. A middle-aged lady in a colourful suit – also a regular guest, like us – was sitting at the table next to us with her companion. They were having an animated every day conversation while we were intensely studying the minimalistic menu of Chez Maurice. Minimalistic meaning that, besides appetizers such as tuna tartar in asparagus emulsion, onion soup au gratin or warm goat’s cheese, there are only 6 dishes you can order. There’s beef, fish, two creations from white meat and a vegetarian dish. As well as the all-time favourite black pudding with apple slices glazed in thyme caramel, onion jam and mashed potatoes. The lunch menu even includes an inexpensive two or three course meal with seasonal ingredients fresh from the market. There’s really no point in stressing yourself to order the right dish – they are all cooked to perfection, beautifully composed, gloriously simple and yet so refined. Chez Maurice was originally a wine and delicatessen shop when it opened in 1997 to offer imported wines from small French vineyards at reasonable prices. In the meantime, the dining area has grown a bit, but the nostalgic décor is still covered in wine bottles – no trends, no chichi, but a whole lot of substance. The atmosphere reminds us more of a meal with friends in a not-so-hyped Parisian district than of visiting a restaurant in the traffic-calmed area of Prenzlauer Berg. This is how it’s done! In the end, the good food, phenomenal wines and the perfect evening have made us feel full and happy. The lady from the next table apparently feels the same. She takes her leave with an elated “bye-BYE!” directed at everyone in the room. After a few minutes, she comes rushing back in. She’s forgotten something. Some documents she had had locked away in the counter. It happens. She has a good laugh about her own forgetfulness and waves cheerfully, before she gets into the black Audi waiting in front of the door. No bodyguards, no hype, no stress – just “Maurice”, Angela Merkel and really good food. We’ll be back.
Chez Maurice | Bötzowstraße 39, 10407 Berlin | open daily 6-11 pm, lunch special: Tue-Fri 12-3.30 pm, Sat 12-3 pm | chez-maurice.com