Bandol sur Mer is a One Michelin Star restaurant on Torstraße in Berlin Mitte, the experimental wild child of unstarred French bistro 3 Minutes Sur Mer, which sits supportively next door.
I first ate at Bandol in the summer of 2016. I found the whole experience delightful, from the interesting and delicious food to the minimalist presentation of each course. My friend took the bill.
Later that year I moved to the block and found the staff of Bandol to be such friendly neighbors that I even stopped in once to ask the chef to help me remember the name of Michel Bras’ salad, “Le Gargouillou”.
My second visit was on my own dime, and to my surprise the price had increased dramatically, from €80 to €115 per person for the 6-course menu.
I should begin by saying that the main chef was in sabbatical, which may explain the difference. His young, tattoo-covered #2 seems to have abandoned any intention toward deliciousness. Aside from the bread with browned butter which the server explained was “everyone’s favorite” (why is that data not already cause for alarm?), not a single bite of food was pleasurable.
My date simply refused to eat most of it.
Around dish #3, I thought to just ask them to stop, but I kept believing that there must come some respite from this strange intellectual assault. Nope, it only got worse, the savory dishes concluding with a slab of pigeon cooked and presented to appear raw. This, my date would not even try.
I slogged through, in faith that dessert would be my reward. But even this offered no respite, and was instead a cruel joke, delivering no sweetness or charm. It was the first dessert I have ever not eaten.
I can only describe this experience as a mild form of torture. I was forcing down the food, while pretending to my date and the server to like it, for 4 hours! (In my experience of set menus, 4 hours is the time for 10 courses. It was very slow service for 6 and the long time between courses made the experience even more exhausting.)
Despite how little food we ate, and having taken only one glass of wine each (in order to better focus on the food), we both felt slightly sick afterward.
In yet another first, I received no response at all to a heartfelt 3-page letter in which I described the significance of my expenditure, my culinary background, and my experience at the restaurant.
Restaurantkritik Review of One Michelin Star Bandol Sur Mer, Berlin