CHIPPS

It’s 8 p.m. on a Thursday night when my partner and I step into CHIPPS on Jägerstraße. The first thing that catches our eye is the restaurant’s centerpiece: a large open kitchen with an attached salad bar filled with fresh ingredients. We are quickly seated at a wooden table next to one of the panoramic windows. From here we have a perfect view of the entire restaurant, including the young crew of chefs busy cooking behind the counter, who we watch while listening to electronic tunes and drinking homemade iced tea with balsamico, ginger, mint and thyme.

Restaurant owner Heinz Gindullis, aka Cookie, the founder of the legendary Cookies Club, is a star of Berlin’s nightlife and club scene. A vegetarian since the age of eight, Gindullis dreamt of opening a vegetarian restaurant that stood out from the average tofu-bistro. This dream finally became reality in 2007 when he and chef tephan Hentschel launched the restaurant Cookies Cream in a back alley off Friedrichstraße right above Cookies Club. With two locations in Mitte, Berlin’s dirty-chic center of the creative class, CHIPPS continues Cookie and Stephan’s fusion of cool urban design and fresh meatless gourmet cuisine.

High ceilings, stone walls, straight-lined grey interior and an open cooler filled with drinks: the look of CHIPPS is casual and elegant, reminiscent of a modern, industrial design-inspired lunch counter. Following the idea of placing function over design, the focus is kept on what’s most important: the food.

“Serious Eating“, the restaurant’s concept, ushers in a new trend of gourmet dining: fresh, high quality and mostly vegetarian ingredients are kept pure. They never get lost in unnecessary flavors or pretentious presentation. Vegetables are cooked to perfection and accentuated by refined marinades, exquisite seasoning and savory sauces or dressings.

The placemats are the menus. Not only do they look like steakhouse menus, they even read like it too. There is one significant difference, though: only three small side dishes contain meat, whereas almost every other item is based on seasonal and regional vegetables like fennel, spinach, beets, carrots or turnip. CHIPPS has reversed the usual restaurant menu in order to serve very good vegetarian meals and still offer a little meat on the side.

You can pick your dish a la carte or choose CHIPPS Select. The dishes usually come with sautéed vegetables, a salad and one of the homemade basic cheese dumpling, pasta plate, potato fritter or rice roll. CHIPPS Select is a modular system in which you compose your own meal by picking from a wide range of different menu items. We start off with the poached egg lamb’s lettuce salad with caramelized salsify roots and a spinach salad accompanied by warm goat cheese, red wine butter, almonds and cassis mustard. For the main course, we choose the potato CHIPP, served with yellow beetroot, truffle dressing and sour cream, and the cheese dumpling with celery, honey carrots, mushroom jus and chives. The vegetables are perfectly marinated and al dente. The sweet and sour cassis brings out the rich and creamy texture of the goat cheese, while the potato CHIPP and cheese dumpling add the final touch to our main dishes. Their menu offers several wines by the glass and a small list of bottles. We choose an Austrian Blauer Zweigelt, a nice round red to compliment our meals.

The success of the “Serious Eating”-concept speaks for itself. Within less than a year CHIPPS became so popular that shortly after its opening on Jägerstraße, a second CHIPPS eatery on Friedrichstraße was introduced in early 2011.

– Julia Schröder

For more information on CHIPPS: visit www.chipps.eu

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