Friday, November 11, 2011

Lavanderia Vecchia

Above is a fountain made from an old washing machine which sits in the middle of the wonderful Lavanderia Vecchia.  Housed in a converted old laundry Lavanderia is an Italian restaurant in the heart of hipster Neuk√∂lln.  The food is country Italian with a focus on the Sabine region - which is where the wine and olive oil are from.   The evening starts at 7:45 and ends around 11 over which time you are served an astounding 14 courses, including wine and mineral water the price for this orgy of delciousness?  39 Euro ($50.40 USD more or less plus tip)
Lavanderia is open for lunch and if, like me, you are dining solo you might want to choose this option.  As spectacular as the prix fixe evening was it is very much about sharing.  Spending three plus hours at a table by ones self is a challenge, and when you added in my jet lag it required several walks outside and to the bathroom.  

The menu is set and served course by course to everyone so you get the feeling you are all taking part in this great feast, so even though I was alone I felt very much part of the crowd and the staff could not have been friendlier ( or more bilingual I think both the host and waiter spoke at least 4 languages each).
The room is part museum part dinning hall, one wall is enclosed in class with a whimsical display of all things laundry. The ceilings hung to and fro with linens on close lines and my favorite design touch is how all the tables are lite from underneath giving the room an almost eery and ghost like quality.

The dishes are also from the Sabine hills in Italy.  Below is Polenta con taleggio - a sprinkle of the sea salt provided on the table and this proved to be one of my favorite items of the evening: bite size. rustic with a creamy funky cheese flavor that evolved as you chewed.
Happenstance would have it that my table faced the sleek stainless kitchen, so as a single dinner I never had to look far for entertainment, watching a chef do his magic is always interesting to me and boy did this guy know how to cook.
To the left is my adorable (Spanish as it turns out) waiter.
The lighting may have been great for atmosphere, but it was shitty for picture taking so even though I documented each dish, forgive me for the darkness of some of the images. 

Below is Salame di cinghiale e valeriana
Preparing for the next course.
A trio of bruschette (pate, tapenade and fresh tomato garlic)
Perfected roasted cauliflower with a little balsamic reduction.
One of my many vistas. It's hard to tell, but in the window at the back on the second floor I could see a man in his kitchen cooking during the early part of the evening.
Pasta riso nero con cozze - amazing some how unctuous, rich and redolent of mussels yet not soupy or wet.  At this point I stopped eating my entire portion - even though i would say this is some of the best Italian food  I  have ever eaten I would have been happy with half the amount (but maybe if I had friends helping me eat it I would feel differently?)
Cime di Rape - crunchy bitter with roasted peppers and tomatoes a wonderful contrast in texture to everything else served.
These are just a few of the many amazing dishes, one after the other presented to me last night at this incredibly special restaurant.  Certainly one of the highlights of my eating out life.  Below is a picture of the bread that is cut up into large chucks and served at the start of the evening.  I poured olive oil and sprinkled salt on my side dish and had a full course of this amazing bread in what would turn out to be a misguided start to an evening that involved 14 courses!  Be forewarned: save room!
After dessert is served you are asked to get up and go over to the bar where the host makes you a short espresso and offers you a digestivo of your choosing.

If you visit Berlin you really must visit Lavanderia Vecchia, but be sure to come with friends and book way in advance!

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