I have a general aversion to anything related to an Aubergine. (most of the world calls it this way and it sounds way better than Eggplant) And like most aversions it's not really based in logic. If I were to guess, most likely it was a traumatic cooking experience with an overly enthusiastic Chef... I still remember the Eggplant Parmesan being thrown in the garbage...
Still I have successfully avoided Aubergines most of my adult life. I have such an aversion to Aubergines that even the name in a title of a restaurant makes me nervous. So, sadly I avoided Die Kleene Aubergine located in Marheineke Markthalle in Berlin until very recently where my wife managed to catch me a particularly brave day and gently persuaded me that I was being dumb and so ensuring that my dish had no actually Aubergines in it, we grabbed a bite.
Like most times when I try something for the first time, I am at first overwhelmed my choice. Everything almost always, sounds fantastic. And so I ordered my watermelon lassi while my wife opted for the more traditional mango one.
Rich, creamy and loaded with fantastic flavor these drinks were brilliant. My wives mango lassi was flawlessly executed and tasted exactly like what you would expect from a mango lassi. But nothing more.
The watermelon lassi on the other hand was a genuine surprise and a true delight. Full of watermelon flavor and yet creamy and refreshing, it was one of those moments when you are so glad that Chefs are creative and willing to take chances. I don't know if die Kleene Aubergine invented it themselves or simply saw a recipe and replicated either way it was a definite highlight.
My wife ordered the pea and mint soup.
WOW! This soup managed to tow the line between being having too much mint and not having enough. It was perfectly seasoned and simply but beautifully garnished. The soup was rich and creamy without being overly thick and heavy and the bread that came with the soup were no simple add-ons they were great!
I had a mixed salad with sweet potato chips.
Some people might think that ordering a salad is a difficult way of telling how good a restaurant might be. It's a salad after all, lettuce, some veggies and a salad dressing.... but I can tell you that A LOT of restaurants mess up on their salads. Luckily for me die Kleene Aubergine didn't. Fresh, crisp greens loaded with fresh veggies and a very compelling dressing made this salad stand out in a very good way. I have to confess the sweet potato chips were of particular delight. Crispy without being overly greasy. A lot can be learnt on how good a cook or Chef is when you order something relatively simple. Can they execute the basics or do they struggle? And die Kleene Aubergine was brilliant.
However, not everything was so flawless as the food at the Kleene Aubergine. The service was borderline. Friendly, for sure. Clean, yep. Professional, needs work. I want to preface this by saying that it takes very little for me to appreciate the service and if it had been in the middle of a rush (busy time) I could have understood, maybe the guy taking the orders had my level of German or was feeling overwhelmed or had a particularly difficult customer before me. Making mistakes under these circumstances while not ideal is understandable.
However, there was no rush. No pressure. I could write a lengthy story and the whole interaction with the server, as it was mostly funny. However, I don't want to paint a negative image, all I will say is that there is a bit of work needed in the fundamentals of service.
Overall the experience at die Kleene Aubergine was fantastic. Worth going out of your way to go visit, their food is perfectly executed traditional (Risotto, Speatzel and Gnocchi) foods with a vegan and slightly modern twist.