I have loved this restaurant for many years and have celebrated two birthdays there with great pleasure, but the last visit was extremely puzzling. The online reservation worked perfectly, but as soon as we stepped through the door I felt uncomfortable. First, they tried to give us a table right near the door which we had to verbally refuse. Second, we were seated quite cramped between two sets of diners only about 3ft away from us. You have to speak very quietly to not intrude on your neighbours conversation in this arrangement, and the neighbors can easily listen in on your conversation. We requested English-language menus, which were well-translated, as my guest could not speak German. But as the evening wore on, it became obvious that the staff were not really good in serving customers in English. From the sommelier bleating out "Thank You!" repeatedly whenever he came by, with no real reason, to the young servers unable to explain certain details of the dishes in English, and turning to me for a translation of some key words, it was quite obvious this restaurant is much more comfortable serving German nationals. Although the "Grill Menu" looked enticing at EU120 a pop it was just too overpriced, As a result, my guest and I ordered the same things a la carte: terrine of foie gras with berries and "Müsli" and the LiVar-Pork (a type of pork from Holland raised by monks). The wine list was really quite unsettling as nearly all of the lower-priced wines under EU100 were crossed off the list as out-of-stock. When I made my selection for a Spätburgunder Grosses Gewächs "Löchle" (EU 80) the Sommelier said that the Spätburgunder Grosses Gewächs Hecklinger Schlossberg (EU 155) was "more fun"--and, of course, double the price. When I refused to order this bottle, he suggested a Spätburgunder "Signature" Weingut Burggarten (EU 50) as well. I chose the cheaper wine, which proved to be very elegant and tannic, not much "fun." Talking in low tones, I noticed I was feeling uncomfortable: there was no music, and I felt that the other table next to me (an older married couple who rarely spoke to one another) were just eavesdropping on my conversation with my guest. The whole seating arrangement needs to be improved with more space between diners, like in the better Michelin star restaurants. Then, the catastrophe of the evening began: after a poor BBQ popcorn, and two mediocre amuse bouches, the first course came: the foie gras. Now, understand this, we both are total foie gras lovers, who normally look forward to this type of dish with great pleasure. What arrived was a small rectangular Granola bar with some cold foie gras tucked inside it and some berry reduction and yogurt next to it--nothing that resembles the great foie gras tradition from the Gascony region. Upon eating this dish, the granola dominated and there was a strong taste of peanut butter throughout. I said, "weird", my guest said "subtle", and we both made repeated jokes about this dish after we left the restaurant. Really, the diners at Vau should unite and storm the kitchen in rebellion for this atrocity of a foie gras, demanding the foie gras get better treatment. The main course was not much better, with the pork being served with water chestnuts, some pesto and a wonderfully prepared small shallot w/ homemade ketchup applied to the base of the plate. The texture of the pork was a little chewy however, and the highpoint was actually the vegetables and that little shallot. As the portions of the first two dishes were very modest, we both decided to order dessert, and we were very pleased with the pre-dessert, the dessert proper, and the post-desert that arrived: but we realized that, proportionally speaking, we ate just as much weight in dessert as in protein-based food in the end. The dessert chef at Vau is absolutely amazing, creating complex desserts that resonate on your palate for minutes afterwards. The pear w/ white chocolate is among the best desserts I have ever eaten. By this time, 3 hours had gone by and we were eager to leave: I paid the over EU 300 bill (w/ only a EU 50 bottle of wine, remember) with a heavy heart and we decided to visit the restrooms and admire the art and woodwork of the restaurant. The media personality chef Herr Kleeberg was in the back corner of the restaurant as we looked at the artwork in the back, but he did not greet us, but just stared at us. I felt sorry for him: he has gone too much in the direction of the TV-Chef and lost touch with the primacy of cooking and certain European traditions. He is still inventive, but at the cost of his diner. I write this review with a heavy heart as this was my favorite restaurant in Berlin for the last 5 years, but now it is time for the competition to take my attention. I will not be returning to Vau for a very long time. Vau is in an awkward stage in its evolution and needs to re-consider what they are about. Bye bye.
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