Chef Jonathan Gushue Serves a Parade of Pretty Plates at The Berlin

Jonathan Gushue is one of Canada’s most celebrated chefs. He’s recently been nominated by Air Canada’s EnRoute Magazine as one of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2016 and named one of the Best Restaurants Outside of the GTA by Toronto Life. With more than two decades of culinary experience, Chef Gushue has been honoured with countless awards including CAA Five Diamond, San Pellegrino Top 100 Restaurants in the World, the Gold Award in the Chef Category from the Ontario Hostelry Institute, the Pinnacle Award for Canadian Chef of the Year and Grand Chef Status.

Chef Gushue took a pause after spending years manning the kitchen at Langdon Hall in Cambridge. Foodies from coast to coast waited patiently to hear word of his next move but it was the locals in Waterloo region that indulged in a happy dance when they found out he’d be launching a restaurant of his own in downtown Kitchener.

The Berlin is housed in a four-storey heritage building (built in the late 1800s) in the heart of downtown Kitchener (its title pays homage to the city’s original name). Chef Gushue and partner Ryan Llyod-Craid spent a year transforming the main floor interior into a Renaissance-Revival open concept space. The walls are a combination of wood and exposed brick, while the open staircase in the middle of the restaurant gives patrons an unobstructed view of the entire building.

At the back of the restaurant you’ll find an open kitchen, complete with counter-side seating, so patrons can watch their meals be prepared before their eyes. Throwback touches adorn the long dining room, including a massive flag that dates back to when Canada was made up of just nine provinces. The living wall is also the kitchen’s herb garden, maintained daily by a local florist. 

At The Berlin, Chef Gushue continues to serve the innovate farm to fork dishes he became so famous for at Langdon Hall. As I forked my way through Gushue’s parade of pretty plates it became clear that he is keen to celebrate flavours from the field that are often the backup dancers to the fish or fillet. It’s his celebration of the humble vegetable, giving each soil soother the respect it deserves that really has you going, wow. Highlights include roasted garlic scapes resting on ricotta toast, a sublime carrot salad, coal roasted mushrooms tossed with oak leaf and almonds and a hearty risotto muddled with the satisfying crunch of snow pea, pearl barely and lentils.

Flax Seed and Cracked Wheat Loaf | vancouver sea salt, cold pressed canola, hand-churned butter

Salt Cod Parfait | crushed cherry tomatoes, sourdough crisps

Ricotta Toast | coal roasted garlic scapes, lemon, pecorino

Nantes Carrot Salad | roasted sunflower, carrot vinaigrette, mizuna

Pressed Terrine of Goose Wing and Foie Gras | beet leaf chutney

Coal Roasted Mushrooms | frisee, oak leaf, abondance, almonds

Honey Ham | spiced cauliflower, charred cherry tomatoes, sour cherry jus

Snow Pea, Pearl Barely and Lentil Risotto | feta, radish pods, summer leaves

Whole Roasted Guinea Hen | rainbow chard, hazelnuts, buttermilk

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