Sunday, 2 September 2012

Lucky Leek: Gourmet Vegan Food in Berlin

Lucky Leek, Berlin

Let's be honest, "gourmet" and "vegan" aren't words you see together all that often. So when I stumbled across Lucky Leek, while browsing for veggie places in Berlin, I was intrigued. Given the universally glowing reviews, I didn't really think I'd be able to get a table at short notice, but I gave it a try and thankfully they could fit me in for an early dinner.

The outside seating was popular, but it was a bit warm for me, so I went for a cooler table inside. The decor was light and simple, with a bit of fun in the form of silhouette murals, and the whole place had a relaxed but elegant vibe. I don't usually make a habit of eating alone in sophisticated restaurants, generally preferring to grab a snack that I can enjoy while keeping myself company with the fictional characters who live inside my Kindle, but for this evening I decided to leave the book at home and just concentrate on the food. I felt perfectly comfortable eating here by myself, and the staff were friendly but not at all pushy.

Lucky Leek, Berlin

Lucky Leek, Berlin

The first thing I should say is that it felt like a lot of choice, even though there were only four or five options for each course (and only two desserts). This is, after all, more options than most restaurants have for vegetarians (let alone vegans). I would have liked to try everything - it all sounded divine, and if I'd been in Berlin for longer, I would certainly have gone back.  There was a bread basket with a light pate (butterbean, I think) to nibble while I made my decision - not that I ever make a real decision until the moment a waiter appears to take my order. The drinks menu was also imaginative, with various unusual juices and five different flavours of homemade lemonade. I had the lime & ginger soda, which was refreshing and had a great kick to it.

For my starter, I ordered the mushroom consommé from the specials menu, which came with wontons (stuffed with tofu, herbs, and chilli), and potato croutons (basically tiny roast potatoes). This had a rich, savoury flavour, but was still light enough that I could easily have eaten twice as much. I'm a lover of wantons almost any which way, and these ones were excellent, somehow managing to be fiery and delicate at the same time.

Lucky Leek, Berlin

After much internal debate, I went for the spinach dumplings as my main course, even though it surprised me to see dumplings presented as a main item rather than an accompaniment to soup or casserole. The dumplings themselves were baked with something like couscous or polenta, which gave a more interesting texture than plain flour would have done. The spinach was a nice touch, which I'll have to remember next time I make dumplings.

The three dumplings were topped with a generous helping of wilted rocket, roasted squash, and crunchy walnuts, with a side of creamy pepper sauce, all of which came together into a perfect balance of flavours and textures. The garnish was pea sprouts (naturally: every fashionable plate is wearing them), basil, and strands of raw saffron. The latter had an incredibly strong flavour, which surprised me as I've always found it to be quite a delicate taste when I use it in cooking.

Lucky Leek, Berlin

Of the two desserts, it was immediately obvious which one I would choose, because of the magic word marzipan. In fact, this was advertised as a "marzipan-currant-tartlette"... something lost in translation, I think, because I wouldn't call this stack anything to do with a tartlet. There were two layers of cake, sandwiching a layer of marzipan, and then topped with blackcurrant coulis and blackcurrant cream. The whole thing was enclosed in a chocolate cage, and topped with a fruit crisp, a sprig of mint, and a tiny chocolate truffle which exploded into liquid chocolate in the mouth.

This was served with espresso sorbet, fresh fruit, mango coulis, and a little marzipan chocolate triangle. The espresso sorbet was the only less-than-perfect element, being a little on the watery side. I saved the wonderful chocolate triangle, with its layers of marzipan and chocolate cream, until my final mouthful - an impressive end to an incredible meal.

Lucky Leek, Berlin

Overall, I would wholeheartedly recommend the Lucky Leek for anyone who enjoys imaginative food, beautifully prepared. That it was all vegan was an added bonus, but don't let it put you off if you're not! At just shy of €30 for three courses, a soft drink, and coffee, I think it was excellent value, too.


365_books_a_year said...

I'm a vegetarian, so I know how impossible it is to find a restaurant that serves good vegetarian food. Let along vegan. I don't know how many soy burgers I've had over the years- it's sometimes the only menu option. And if one more person asks me if I eat fish or shellfish, I think I'll scream! Oh and is that a chocolate covered fig? It's fig season now. It reminds me I have to go and get some fresh figs, soon.

Susan Francino said...

I'm not vegan or even vegitarian..but WOW, this looks good! And mmmmm...marzipan is a magic word for me too. :)

christine said...

gosh, how fantastic was that? You lucky girl - you can replicate it for me next time we visit:) xx

Rachel said...

I'm neither vegan nor vegetarian, but that sounds like a wonderful meal!

Jacqueline said...

Mmmmmm, lovely food. I really have to make more effort for my Graham now he is vegan.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

What a great find, I am not a vegetarian but my husband and I do both enjoy the sort of food you describe, looks and sounds delicious.

Jeanne said...

Passing this on to my daughter, who's both a vegetarian and a cook (just opening her own restaurant-type business).

I'll have to write a post about it--it's an interesting concept she has going--she calls it "a participatory dining experience."

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Sounds a delightful place to eat.

Savvy WorkingGal said...

Looks and sounds delicious. So wish my lifestyle allowed me to travel more.

Charlotte Klein said...

Oh, nom nom. I am SUCH a sucker for good German marzipan. I haven't had it in ages, but I remember thinking I never wanted to, because they were always too beautiful to eat :)

Close to Home said...

Wow looks delicious. THanks for stopping by my blog so glad I found you this sounds like a wonderful adventure you are on.

Anonymous said...

very nice presentation

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