Mrs. Robinson’s: A Berlin Love Story

An unexpected meeting in the bathroom of Berlin's most famous nightclub led to the birth of one of the city's most innovative restaurants.

Justyna Vityk
An inside look at Mrs. Robinson's in Berlin, Germany

By Solynka Dumas on 5.10.21

Since it’s opening in 2016, Mrs. Robinson’s has been consistently delivering umami bombs of incredibly inventive flavors. The masterminds behind this project are British lifestyle manager Samina Raza, and Isreali chef Ben Zviel. The couple met in 2015 in the bathroom line of Berghain, the infamous Berlin nightclub, and they have been a magical team ever since.

A few months after their first encounter, Samina moved to Berlin from London and they opened Mrs. Robinson’s together. They are now married and what initially started as a casual dining place with Asian-inspired dishes is now one of the most creative sustainable restaurants in the city.

Samina, co-owner of Mrs. Robinson's
Samina, co-owner of Mrs. Robinson's
Pas de Rouge Cheese Pie: Spring Greens: Fermented Chili Sauce
Pas de Rouge Cheese Pie: Spring Greens: Fermented Chili Sauce

This shift happened about three years ago, when Samina and Ben were consistently dissatisfied with the raw products they got. Although they would order from organic suppliers, the food simply didn’t live up to the quality they needed to really feel proud of what they were serving. The aha moment happened after they received a shipment of tasteless beetroots. No matter how Ben tried to prepare them, he couldn’t recognize the earthy and rich flavor he was looking for. Frustrated, Ben and Samina jumped in their car and went to the closest farmer’s market to get beetroots that actually tasted like something.

From that point on, they became uncompromising on the quality and sourcing of their products, focusing solely on local and seasonal ingredients — but this was not an easy task. Unlike other big European cities, like London or Paris, Berlin doesn’t have the logistics in place for high quality local producers to deliver their food to restaurants. Although this is slowly changing, the demand for these type of products is still not high enough in the city’s gastronomic scene to develop a more sophisticated system. So Ben and Samina had to go directly to the source, spending a countless amount of time and labor, meeting producers to find passionate and reliable suppliers to work with.

White Aspargus : Rhubarb: Rosehip Kombucha: Hazelnut Milk and Buckwheat Shio
White Aspargus : Rhubarb: Rosehip Kombucha: Hazelnut Milk and Buckwheat Shio
Sicilian Mandarin:Honjozo Sake Jell-o:Bitter Cream: Bee Pollen
Sicilian Mandarin:Honjozo Sake Jell-o:Bitter Cream: Bee Pollen

Most of their meat comes from Gut Falkenhain, a small mixed farm in the vicinity of Berlin that works for the preservation of disappearing farm species, like the Mangalitza pig. Until they are slaughtered, the pigs get to live a long and happy life, free to roam wherever they please. The oldest one is 11 years old, a true rarity on a farm. The current take-out menu at Mrs. Robinson’s features Mangalitza spare ribs, pig head schnitzel, and a selection of their homemade Mangalitza cured meats — all from the same eight-year old pig. In true nose to tail fashion, no part is left behind.

Solely working with local ingredients can prove particularly challenging with a restaurant that is known for having a very bold flavor profile. They had to find extremely creative ways to keep that umami-packed signature style while remaining aligned with their ethos and became quite successful at balancing the two. A short visit on their menu and you will find items like furikake made of local buckwheat or homemade garum ponzu.

Raw Grey Mullet: Goosberry: Grilled Bones Koji Vinegar
Raw Grey Mullet: Goosberry: Grilled Bones Koji Vinegar
Mangalitza Katsu Sandi House Panko homemade milkbread preserved Berries Katsu Ketchup
Mangalitza Katsu Sandi House Panko homemade milkbread preserved Berries Katsu Ketchup

Despite the current global health crisis, Mrs. Robinson’s has shown extreme resilience by creating finger licking snacks to take away from its window, and until recently, an ever evolving home delivery box that included dishes like line caught Pollock wrapped in leek kimchi and last year’s tomato broth, or duck egg custard tart with summer berry and candied sakura.

They are currently working on a new, bigger venue with a more laid back concept, Café Frieda, an all-day hang out location where you can drink natural wine, snack on delicious cured meats and baked goods while listening to great music.

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