Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Armenien ist OK

Our waitress at Restaurant Amberd proudly declared: "I'm not Armenian," but then went off to find out how to say cheers in Armenian: genatz (pronounced according to our non-Armenian-speaking waitress like kay-nuts). Amberd is surprisingly one of two Amrmenian restaurants on Uhlandstrasse, both of which have near-identical menus, prices, and casual-but-white-table-cloth styles. I feel like I'm getting repetitive here, but once again there were a few interesting points, but I wouldn't go out of my way to eat at Amberd again (I do like the name, though).

We shared a mixed appetizer platter four ways (more than enough), which included a relative of baba ganoush (pleasantly smoky), feta (nice and creamy, not too salty), stuffed grape leaves (subpar), kidney beans in a tomato-y sauce (very bland), some fried croquettes of indeterminable substance with lots of fennel seed (meh). Aside from a few generically "international" specials like chicken breast in orange-curry sauce, the bulk of the menu is made up of rollos and grilled meat served with rice, lavash bread, or (oddly) potato gratin (to appease the Germans, I guess). I was very intrigued by the rollo, which is a sort of Armenian burrito made with lavash and various stuffings. Ours was filled with feta, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumber, and yogurt sauce. It was enormous, but needed something to bump up the flavor (I had expected more from the yogurt sauce).

We also shared the Jerewan plate: grilled lamb fillet, a grilled chicken breast, and some lulee, or ground meat sausages (similar to cevapcici, but milder) - more than enough meat for two people. The meat came on a large piece of lavash folded over itself. (If I ever remembered to take my camera anywhere with me, you could see what it looked like.) Now this seems obvious to me, but with such simple food, you really need to put some thought into the ingredients. Grilled cheap meat tastes like cheap meat. This was especially evident in the chicken, which had basically no flavor. Amberd isn't Berin's most expensive restaurant, but it isn't the cheapest either. I for one, would much prefer a single decent piece of meat than three mediocre ones for 13 Euros. Having been to many a Grillparty in Berlin, I guess I have to conclude that I am in the minority in this city. I will say that every table got a pitcher of pomegranate molasses, which did wonders for both the meat and the rollo. I also enjoyed the private party of fancyish, raucous Armenians (or possibly Russians), including a large gentleman with a man-purse. But back to the menu: Wikipedia says that Armenia is the world's oldest wine-producing region. I don't know if they still drink it there today, but the menu was disappointingly almost exclusively French.

Sad news! On my way to Amberd, I biked past the Great Australian Bite, which I had hoped to make my next spot, has closed!

Restaurant Amberd
Uhlandstr. 67

next up: Restaurant Billabong

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