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Pret a diner: Pop-up pompous

Five hotshot chefs from around Germany, a gritty industrial location, and a pseudo-secret all-English website with a Chicks on Speed trash aesthetic, all combine to make Pret a diner an acquired taste.

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Photo courtesy of Gregor Anthes

“Let’s do something ‘Berlin’!” This is what seems to have run through the enterprising brains at Kofler & Kompanie, a high-end international catering company which is usually organising gastro weekends in Burgundy, delivering 191,800 lemon slices to the World Cup in South Africa, or catering DaimlerChrysler and Armani events in Milan (with Christina Aguilera for eye candy), rather than dealing with “edgy” Berlin stuff – with the memorable exception of the GQ Men of the Year Awards 2010!

Get five hotshot chefs from around Germany, a gritty industrial location and a pseudo-secret all-English website with a Chicks on Speed trash aesthetic. Open between Fashion Week and the Berlinale and, presto, you’ve got a “dining experience,” so special it can’t even be called a “pop up restaurant,”– even if it’s open for 35 days only. For good measure, call it, “The Melting Pot”.

Unfortunately, the only social groups mixing here are old and new money. Set, fittingly, in Mitte’s former mint, the ‘experience’ begins as you wander through a maze of underground corridors that lead to a cavernous factory hall with a mezzanine overlooking the kitchen. The Berlin edginess continues in the ‘clubbing area’ (but is slightly complicated by the presence of a tricked-out Range Rover Evoque, provided by the corporate sponsor). Sporting high heels, jewelled earrings and tailored suits, the diners are as far from trashy, cash-strapped Berliners as can be. Naja, it’s nice to pretend you’re in Munich for an evening…

But what about the food? Chefs Bernhard Munding (Dos Palillos, Berlin) and Wahabi Nouri (Piment, Hamburg) whip local, organic products into haute cuisine. With a choice between a three-course vegetarian and a non-vegetarian menu (€39) and an accompanying wine menu (three glasses, €18), at least choosing is easy. Stomaching the food – which, like the crowd and the concept, seems to be trying far too hard – is a different matter. Hungry, we left for a Currywurst.

PRET A DINER: THE MELTING POT | Bookings at www.pret-a-diner.com, Telephone 0170 3898 800. Through February 20