I have passed by Restaurant Louis-Laurent one too many times while walking Juancho but never got around to coming in. I wanted to go there either for date night or for a long lunch. However, my schedule hasn’t been kind to me for a while. There’s just something so romantic about this restaurant that I always saw it as a place you would want to spend time in. Not a quick stop just to fill your tank in between the million things you need to do on a daily basis.

French flair in West Berlin

It’s located in one of the prettiest side streets from Kurfürstendamm – Giesebrechtstraße – which is lined with altbaus and peppered with lush trees. The restaurant looks straight out of a magazine – trés chic.

A gorgeous little French bistro I would take my time in – preferably at its al fresco section. I’d get some sun while having lunch and I’ll read the latest issue of The Monocle while I wait for dessert.

While my schedule is enough to make things difficult, the weather has also been dismal. It was difficult to find a good day where it wasn’t too cold and I had enough time on my hands. Always the dilemma of this adult life of mine. So when my friend Ute asked me to come for a press dinner at Restaurant Louis Laurent with her on one of my free nights, I knew I had to go. Rest is something you forego for good food and conversation.

While lots of good things can be said about hipster Berlin and the age of avocado toast, a part of me still does have a thing for fine dining. White table cloths, some romantic lighting, and impeccable service. Like most people, I also find myself missing something familiar every now and then. French cuisine? Have a bouillabaisse. Chinese? A classic xiao long bao. No frills – just the actual dish. This, I believe, is why a classic restaurant that focuses on a particular cuisine, will always have a place in the food scene. Even in truly hip Berlin.
Begin your evening with an aperitif. Ask for the staff’s recommendation on a fine sekt to make sure your meal is off to a good start. The people who work at Restaurant Louis Laurent are incredibly charming and knowledgeable. So you’re in good hands.

Fine de Claire Oysters

Not everyone loves oysters. They can be fishy and sometimes a little too slimy. But when it comes to having them, I only ever say yes to Fine de Claires. This type is less fleshy and isn’t slimy at all. It’s what they first served us at the restaurant which already gave a really good impression.
Fine de Claire oysters tend to be richer in water and have a more balanced flavour than its cousins. So if you’re new to trying it out or if you’re someone who wants to change your mind about this well-known aphrodisiac, go for the Fine de Claire. A dash of salt, a light squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a glass of champagne Bonaire to go with it, and it was perfection.

Foie Gras

Next up, we were served with some foie gras. This one came, sitting nicely on top of crispy baguette. On its side was a salad bouquet to balanced the foie gras’ rich, buttery flavours. Divine.

**While I do love its taste, I try to minimise my consumption of foie gras due to the distressing way it is made.

Coquille

I may be biased here since I’m a huge lover of scallops but I think my indifference to spinach balances my opinion out when I say this dish was divine. The light, velouté made the whole thing flavourful without being too cloying.

Bouillabaisse

This classic is always something I look forward to in French restaurants. Growing up, I wasn’t a fan of sour flavours but something changed in my 20s and I find myself craving for it constantly. Fresh seafood is not that easy to source in Berlin since it’s not that near to the sea. Due to this, seafood dishes in restaurants tend to suffer in quality. Living here for two years made me a bit sceptical in ordering dishes containing seafood when dining out. So when I read that we were having some bouillabaisse, I looked forward to it and hoped for the best.

Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed.

The mussels were fat and fresh – same with the fish, scallops, and prawns. It was utterly delightful. The soup was rich and tangy and I had to remind myself that I was still in Berlin and not in a small French town by the sea.

Cassoulet

At this point, I was starting to get full so it was hard for me to finish the cassoulet. I’m also normally not a fan of duck. It can taste a bit gamey and the high-fat content in the meat often leaves me queasy. However, the crispy duck confit that came with the cassoulet tasted different. The flageolet beans, the smoky flavours, and the cranberry gave it an extra layer of flavour and texture that masked the things I normally shy away from. A duck dish for those who don’t love duck.

Créme Brûlée

Yes, I was feeling full but I always make room for dessert – even when my shirt starts to bulge and I could pass for a pregnant lady in her first trimester at the end of the meal. We ended the meal with a perfectly caramelised créme bruûlée. Light on the tongue and with just enough vanilla bourbon to make it fragrant, it was the best way to end the night.