Lost near Pariser Platz, a gleaming square abutting Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, we stopped to ask directions to our Michelin-starred dining destination. "Why don't you just eat here?" the waiter at Theodor Tucher suggested with a wink. He was joking, but it was the best tip of the trip. Formal, swank, Gallic-inspired restaurants are popping up all over the Mitte, but this newcomer—with its untranslated menu, nouveau Prussian cooking, and bristling, intellectual energy—is a refreshing exception. Soaring 25-foot ceilings enclose a library and café that fades into a dining area. The food, though, is the real show. Try a tender, clove-laced pork shank and something our multilingual waiter described as a crab pot-au-feu done Berlin-style: perfectly roasted root vegetables drizzled with velvety fish soup. Sample local sausages, cheese, and even a decent German red wine. Theodor Tucher also serves the flakiest, crispest apple strudel and hosts regular lectures by authors and philosophers. Reservations are recommended after 8 p.m. Dinner for two with wine, $60. Pariser Platz 6a, Berlin 10117; 30-22-489-464; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.