HAPPINESS ABOUNDS. DIE VERNUNFT HAT GESIEGT.
Archive for the ‘ENGLISH’ Category
bar nou, one of my favorite berlin cocktail bars, apparently just lost the majority of their staff due to reasons unknown to me…. which is why my man michael & his friendly colleagues are no longer working there.
guess we’ll hafta stick to stagger lee & reingold from now on. oh, well.
my laptop died. until i get my files back, there will be the occasional silly link to keep youz content without actually producing any content. get it? ha. ha.
but soon, you’ll hear about at least two of my new favorite restos in my favorite city. i promise.
psssst — don’t tell anyone! but it would seem that part of eberswalder is becoming a new destination for some very good & very affordable food.
besides the already fairly popular italian eatery cotto e crudo and a relatively new korean place, a couple of folks from the team that brought you themroc on torstrasse have opened up a french bistro that will keep you coming back for more.
the small resto with perhaps 40 seats total and an indiscriminate storefront features an open kitchen, where two cooks work their daily magic cranking out some damn fine dishes at incredibly reasonable prices. take one of the daily specials on a recent evening, for example, all of which are written on the blackboard: an appetizer of fantastic veal tartar with wild herb salad and a luscious piece of eggplant rang up at 7.20 euro. the regular menu features a small selection of appetizers & mains, all of which are well under 20 euro, and most everything ordered that evening was very good to great. don’t know if there’s a wine list, as we were quite happy with ordering several carafes of the house white and >gasp< tap water!
the service, a friendly but slightly overwhelmed young lady, can be a bit slow, so make sure you are in the mood for a very French, very leisurely, very delicious & delightful evening.
and pretty please – do continue to pimp out the hungry hipster haven aka torstrasse to all your friends, pan-european & northamerican visitors from out of town, and let this be our dirty little secret. merci beaucoup.
eberswalder str. 28
Greek – Thai
oh, my swarthy sweetheart, misunderstood mistress of covetous carnivores… after many childhood summers spent all over greece, where i experienced the true variety and awesomeness of greek food, i am very happy that – within the last couple of decades – germany (and, to an extent, berlin) has been blessed with plenty of tavernas, ouzerias and estiatorios whose culinary comestibles go well beyond massive mountains of meat à la gyros, souvlaki & rubbery cheese-stuffed keftedes, piled over fries (!) with the obligatory blob of tzatziki, and which represent a broader range of traditional mezedes, seafood & regional specialties.
ousies / grunewaldstr. 16 / sch’berg
far from being an insider tip, this place has been a mainstay for reliably good mezes in schöneberg for a long time.
berkis / winterfeldtstr. 45 / sch’berg
as you can tell from my very own blog post back in 2009, i was rather enthusiastic. i’ve since been back a number of times each summer, and i have to say that the quality has gone down. which is to say from fantastically awesome (way better than ousies, and cheaper at that) to probably as good as ousies / not as good on bad days, with still slightly cheaper prices than ousies. the gyros pita is still on the awesome side, though i order it w/out the fries. same neighborhood, but smaller & very popular. just try to get a table outside in the summer. you’ll be waiting a while…
the fairly decent number of high-class foodie temples in berlin can be found on any other old blog/website. i personally can’t think of a single one that couldn’t be located anywhere else in the world. if you must, just go already and spend your hard-earned cashola on fancy fress-fests with exhausting concepts & ‘flavor profiles’ served to you over hours in minuscule portions until, after course #18 (petits fours and truffles on the house), you’re finally too full to do much of anything, let alone fuck. but hey, enjoy – what do i care :-P
like every hot-blooded german or shall i say most human beings, i have a love affair with italian food. if it weren’t so goddamn unhealthy, i’d eat pasta every other day. its versatility and deliciousness has no equal, at least not in my heart (or my stomach).
noi quattro / südstern 14 / xberg
it took owner and chef andreas staack a while to figure out what exactly he wanted this place to be – for a while, the place was even divided into an ‘haute cuisine” and a “regular” dining room, with neither ever being quite busy enough to justify that separation. i’d been there once even before that division took place, 5 or 6 years ago, and had found that the food, while sounding interesting and innovative, was rather lacking in flavor. it took a good 5 years and one revelatory dish of an incredible osso bucco raviolo with gremolata and sautéed chanterelles at the annual kreuzberg kocht event last year to completely change my mind. this is fantastic modern italian food – their house-baked breads and their take on vitello tonnato alone makes me want to go back again and again. bonus: a fairly large terrace with a nice view of südstern.
donath / schwedter str. 13 / p’berg
a neighborhood fave, this place is run by a horde of italian punks who cook incredibly delicious, down-home pasta dishes. you won’t find any fancy-shmancy ‘creations’, and if i hadn’t lived next door to the place, i likely would have never found out about it. nor would i make the trek from another neighborhood. but if you happen to be in the area and are able to snag a table, it’s reliably great & won’t break the bank.
spaghetti western / torstr. 179 / mitte
despite its cheesy name & the location on berlin’s hipster food mile, the pasta served here is quite lovely. the menu is a comprehensive collection of traditional and non-traditional spaghetti dishes, including some fresh pasta options as well. the adjacent wine bar is, to my knowledge, owned by the same folks, and has a good selection of italian wines. order a bottle and you get a nice plate of delectables to munch on – a slice of pizza, some olives, a little slaw. great view of the hipster crowd parading by.
i do get my cravings for some nice middle eastern food out in the boondocks. berlin has an abundance of options for those addicted to hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, and the like in pretty much any neighborhood.
yarok / torstr. 193 / mitte
this little syrian gem near tucholskystr offers wonderful appetizer platters with all the usual suspects, but done excellently: grilled vegetables, lamb marinated in pomegranate molasses, zesty chicken & fabulous hummus. the housemade, fruity hot sauce is to die for – it delivers quite a zing with hints of orange zest, ginger, cloves and peppers. the ayran is served with fresh mint. lovely.
there was a time, not so long ago, when mexican food in berlin (and germany) meant badly executed tex-mex… heavy on the burrito, beans & rice side, but not in a good way. three amigos have saved many a north american’s culinary sanity by opening up a trio of mexican joints that offer a fairly accurate taste of cal-mex and baja cuisine. the original, maria bonita, is still my numero uno, hermano.
PIZZA & FOCCACIA
a good pizza is hard to find, and the opinions on what makes the perfect slice are about as diverse as the range of possible toppings. i prefer a crispy & chewy, neapolitan-style crust with a good ratio of sauce, cheese and 2-3 toppings at most. quality ingredients go a long way, as these two pizza parlors will prove on any given day. because i’m also not a fascist about pizza, one of my choices is actually a focacceria. whatever. close ’nuff for this gal.
due forni / schönhauser allee 12 / p’berg
lots of haters out there who have a million & one reasons not to eat here – aloof or, depending on your tolerance level, rude service (almost exclusively native “punk” Italian) comes to mind, the fact that the nice beergarden is always packed to the rafters when the weather’s nice, that the restaurant was blacklisted for hygiene issues a few years ago, etc. etc. personally, i have never had a bad experience, so it remains my go-to spot when i’m in the hood – it’s great for larger groups & the pizza is the best to be had on “pregnant hill”.
dolce / various locations / sch’berg & xberg
fantastic slices of outstanding foccacia. most locations have a fairly high turnover, so many focaccie come straight out of the oven. seriously good eats.
while i’ve yet to discover really good phô in berlin, i can satisfy my cravings for noodle soup at this tiny place in the gallery district. the guy behind the counter used to run a traveling soup kitchen out of schwarzenraben & has spent several years in hokkaido. the ramen is GOOD – just the right thing to warm you up when the berlin “summer” does its thang.
cocolo / gipsstr. 3 / mitte
before the korean wave came the vietnamese wave came the sushi wave. there isn’t a single area in the city center that doesn’t have at least 5 sushi joints offering 50% off deals all day on everything. surely, a true sign of confidence and quality. if you actually care about your fish & don’t do cheap-ass sushi, head over to either of these fine establishments. depending on your personal preference, you’ve the choice of going the more traditional route in a very classic japanese ambience in the east, or enjoying the creativity of the very friendly kaiten sushi dudes (who are all vietnamese, btw) on olivaer platz in the west.
mr. hai kabuki sushi / olivaer platz 10 / w’dorf
thick slices of sashimi, creative nigiri (salmon brulée with a housemade, addictive sauce of ginger, kewpie mayo, sesame oil & soy sauce), maki, te-maki, assorted specials like seared scallops or seared tuna threaded with green asparagus, deep-fried white tuna with a sweet, sticky dipping sauce and, last but not least, a very good miso soup make this place a weekly lunch spot for me. from 12 to 4 pm, a lunch special gets you bottomless tea, miso soup & 3 plates of your choice for 9.50 euro. dinners, on the other hand, can get expensive.
sasaya / lychener str. 50 / p’berg
for the sushi purist – a japanese-run place that’s far away enough from kollwitzplatz serving very good quality fish with a number of nice, traditional (warm) japanese choices beyond sushi. reservations are fairly essential, lunch can get very busy. pricier than mr. hai.
go to there.
FOR PART I, PLEASE CLICK HERE
Currywurst – German/alpine
despite the notoriety of curry 36 and konnopke – both of which I could take or leave – neither of them can beat my favorite spot.
bier’s curry & spieße / friedrichstr. 142 / mitte
i’ve never been much of a currywurst fan until i tipsily stumbled upon this lovely spot. i still pretty much would file currywurst in the category “drunk food”, but this is good eats. a house-made sauce that actually has flavor and a good kick to it, and isn’t just ketchup sprinkled with lame-ass curry powder.
DESSERT / PASTRIES / CAKE
i’m not a sweetie. just ask anyone who’s met me ‘-)
however, i don’t live on an island, and many of my friends and loved ones occasionally insist on the german kaffee & kuchen tradition, which is about as german as it gets. these are the places i would send them to, or even come along when i’m in a sugary kinda mood.
atelier cacao / linienstr. 139-140 / mitte
right in the middle of everything, but a bit off to the side. artisanal chocolate creations and fantabulous hot chocolate. do try their dark chocolate ice cream.
operncafé / unter den linden 5 / mitte
an incredible selection of cakes, pies, tartes and petits fours that’ll make any red-blooded grandmother or great aunt visiting you in the big bad city swoon. the large terrace is a nice hang-out for families & tourists alike. beware of the pesky little sparrows who will fight you over the last crumbs on your plate.
werkstatt der süße / husemannstr. 25 / p’berg
edible pieces of art.
it’s strange. i can’t get a decent döner kebab 9 months out of the year, yet every summer, it’s usually not until i am almost ready to leave berlin again before i get my hands on the iconic street food. perhaps this is because, like currywurst, i consider it drunk food rather than a valid dinner option. or perhaps because a good döner is hard to find, or sometimes simply not worth the trek. the following are worth it… if you want the good stuff.
imren / boppstr. 4 / neukölln
a few steps away from the hustle and bustle of kottbusser damm, imren runs two places –a restaurant and a snack bar further down the street. the snack bar is where you should be heading – the flatbread is baked right in front of you, the seasoned meat tastes unlike any other döner “meat’ that’s been processed into oblivion – with hints of cloves, cinnamon, and sumac. it’s its own thing … but that’s kinda the point.
hasir / adalbertstr 10 / xberg & maaßenstr. 10 / sch’berg
i’ve never forgiven hasir for their swanky tourist temple on oranienburger, which is what you’d expect from the location: overpriced, underspiced, and run for the sole point of feeding busloads of tourists. but both locations in xberg & schöneberg continue to do a fine job with dürüm döner.
ah, chickpeas. could there possibly be a more boring ingredient? if so, i don’t need to know. but deep-fry them with the perfect mixture of spices and herbs, and they become something really special. there is only one place that does it right.
habibi / goltzstr. 24 / sch’berg
the line outside the door should tell you all you need to know. the falafel sandwich here is delicious: the falafel is fried to order, resulting in a hot, crispy-crunchy exterior and a well-seasoned moist interior. add to that any veggie under the sun (well, at least in the glass counter – deep-fried cauli is my personal fave), your sauce/s of choice, and off you go. if you’re lucky, you can find a seat on the bench outside or one of the tables and take in the unique scenery.
while i generally save my seafood splurges – especially when it comes to home cooking – for the US, there are many fishy things that i crave which are pretty easy to come by in berlin: grilled, smoked, pickled, cured; herring, matjes, eel, pike perch, mackerel, butterfish, brook trout… i try to make the most of my summers in berlin by frequenting these great harbors of halibut & co.
rogacki / wilmersdorfer str. 145/146 / w’dorf
oh, how do i miss a good variety of smoked, pickled or cured fish. rogacki (featured on the bourdain no reservations berlin episode) delivers on all those counts and more. located far west of my kiez, this deli/food court/fish monger/catering place has been around for decades. besides the aforementioned seafood bounty, there are several counters with gourmet cheeses, house-baked bread and a good selection of meats, game and poultry. the big draw for me, though, is the lunch counter in the big hall where one can get crispy pork knuckle, half chickens, or delicious fried & breaded fish filets and a variety of potato salads, cucumber salad & other sides, all charged by weight. the food is served cantina-style, you grab a tray, stand in line, and you eat standing up at high-top tables while taking in the lunch crowd. which is a great mix of the neighborhood crowd – from working class up to your retired & well-bejewelled wilmersdorf widow.
fischfabrik / danziger str. 24 / p’berg
a great alternative to your usual pizza/döner/hamburger or uninspired pan-asian lunch, this small space on danziger str. has a great variety of fresh fish which can be ordered whole or as filets; there’s also fresh oysters, generous skewers of salmon & butterfish with a perfectly dressed salad, bouillabaisse… the guys behind the counter are friendly and helpful, know what they’re doing… and it’s easy on the wallet.
steckerlfisch / various markets – check their website
i have sung the praises of winterfeldtmarkt before – it truly is the perfect lunch location for a saturday. the food choices are endless, and few of them have disappointed me so far. you can get swabian, middle-eastern, generic stir-fry (i don’t recommend it), african, organic lamb sausages, raclette cheese, currywurst, thai, etc. etc. that said, what really makes me haul my ass over to schöneberg on any given saturday is jürgen fürgut’s steckerlfisch stand: a southern german-style fish grill, offering a variety of whole fish like brook trout or pike perch or mackerel, as well as fish filets, shrimp or squid skewers, and nice sides like seasonal potato salad or seaweed salad. i am a sucker for the whole grilled trout and mackerel, which comes with lemon, diced onion, horseradish & house-made dill-cream.
berlin is neither the german birth place of fried chicken, nor is it particularly famous for it. that said, these joints make one hell of a good point for having some crispy, crunchy, juicy chicken.
henne / leuschnerdamm 25 / xberg
go to there. try to get a table in the beergarden if the berlin ‘summer’ allows.
zur kleinen markthalle / legiendamm 32 / xberg
here’s a dirty little secret. if you can’t get a rez at henne, which happens more often than not…. you can go to kleine markthalle instead, a stone-throw away from henne. because the chicken is pretty much identical to the original place. hell, the beergarden is almost nicer – well, it’s larger at least. they also have a nice red beets & cheese appetizer. what they don’t have is the bavarian landbier i love so much, but that’s pretty much it… it really is a more than worthy 2nd best to henne. enjoy!
angry chicken / skalitzer str. 36 / xberg
after the sushi and the vietnamese waves, berlin’s having its little korean moment. which is rather nice, ’cause i’m all for diversity ‘n shit. i also haven’t had really fantastic korean food so far, but i keep trying. what i have tried are the chicken wings at angry chicken, and they are good. i was hoping for serious heat when i ordered the “furious” version, and it gave me a nice head sweat – not something one can expect just anywhere. it’s your spicier, fast food alternative to the other chicken fry kings in the ‘hood.
GERMAN / ALPINE
really well-made german and austrian cooking, like most of the things mentioned in this list so far, are hard to come by where i hibernate, so i tend to indulge in heimats-fare whenever i get the chance. i will admit that i’ve decided to keep my absolute favorite place to myself. hey – we all need our little secrets.
renger-patzsch / wartburgstr. 54 / sch’berg
local, regional, seasonal cooking with a modern touch, a light alsatian influence with a good variety of tartes flambées, this place is my go-to restaurant for delicious food at moderate prices in a laid-back atmosphere. not least of all because offal is often on the menu – whether it’s lamb’s tongue or kidneys, rabbit liver or other delicious delights.
jolesch / muskauer str. 1 / xberg
one of the prime addresses for austrian food in town. they’ve managed to convert me to the serviettenknödel (bread dumpling), a thing i have hated passionately for most of my life. not their version, which is as light as air – almost like a dumpling soufflé. the saftgulasch and wiener schnitzel are also fantastic, and the service is very friendly and professional.
felix austria / bergmannstr. 26 / xberg
your option for really good eats in the bergmannkiez. we’re not talking about the restaurant austria. no, if you want to be truly happy (= felix), head over to this hole-in-the-wall place on marheinekeplatz for excellent wiener schnitzel and super-friendly service.
everyone and their duck compiles their “best of’” lists at the end of the year – so naturally, i decided i’m gonna be totally, like, rad…and start the new year with a list of my personal favorites. might this be because in truth, i am a helpless victim of procrastination and just couldn’t be bothered to post this just a few days earlier? i guess we’ll never find out…
many of the places listed below have been previously reviewed on this blog, in which case i have linked to the respective posts (mostly in german, so sorry!). others are in dire need of reviewing, but hey – there’s a whole new, shiny year ahead of us. who knows what might happen ‘-)
so let’s dig into part one:
American – Coffee
“AMERICAN” (BURGERS & STEAKS)
while i am well aware that american cuisine encompasses a whole lot more than just burgers & steaks, most berlin restaurants (as well as their customers, for that matter) are not. so there.
the bird / am falkplatz 5 / p’berg
everything that needs to be said about this place has been said. the music’s too loud & of the “shitty rock” category, but i can ignore that for a grand piece of beef. while the service can be spotty at times, the quality of both burgers and steaks remains consistent. the proof? just try to get a rez on the same day you’d like to go. good luck!
hamburger heaven / graefestr. 93/ xberg
not nearly as overrun as the big cheese above, but it’s become quite popular & is a great alternative for a very good burger w/out having to play the reservation game.
tartane / torstr. 225 / mitte
a daily changing menu with a special burger on offer every day & a small standard menu with good eats for pretty much any taste. hipster-factor = not too high, despite its location on torstrasse.
there are so many ways pan-asian food can go wrong. just visit panasia near hackescher markt some time, or any other viet-thai-sushi-50% off place. thankfully, there are exceptions.
toca rouge / torstr. 195 / mitte
a fine example of very moderately priced, interesting twists on chinese & thai stand-bys, with incredibly friendly staff and an interior as dark as my soul.
dudu berlin / torstr. 134 / mitte
despite the location (waaaay too close to st. oberhip on rosenthaler platz) and a ridiculously high hipster-factor, i found the food there to be surprisingly delish. a very good grilled salmon dish with seaweed salad comes to mind, as well as a very generous sashimi salad. good ‘beautiful people’ watching, too >snicker<
BERLIN AT ITS BERLINEST
these are a few places that represent the berlin i love, and love to share with visitors.
clärchens ballhaus / auguststr. 24 / mitte
an old-school dance hall with decent pizza & fantastic people watching. the dance classes are legendary.
clash / gneisenaustr. 2a im mehringhof / xberg
quite a different kind of dance hall, and a very different kind of customer. i dare you to use the bathrooms sober.
mauersegler / mauerpark / p’berg
mauerpark itself is quintessential berlin history, and if you’re a dirty white hippie who loves drum circles and african dance, you’ll fit right in. mauersegler is a nice bar to hang out, sip beer and munch on various snacks while listening to some of the more interesting and talented bands than what you find outside on the dusty “lawn”.
prater / kastanienallee 7-9 / p’berg
oldest and most beautiful biergarten in berlin. ‘nuff said.
BREAKFAST / BRUNCH
brunch is a well-loved tradition in berlin, one i rarely enjoy because my breakfast at home is so goddamn awesome. but sometimes i get lazy or just want to get out.
café morgenland / skalitzer str. 35 / xberg
despite the fact that one has to go on a diet before being able to maneuver the tiny (but well-stacked)buffet area, it’s well worth the trip from other hoods.
like in any larger german city, there are a million and one chinese restaurants in berlin, a lot of them located on kantstrasse in charlottenburg, aka little china. i don’t get too excited about cantonese cooking, so you’re on your own there.
hot spot / eisenzahnstr. 66 / ch’burg
that other sichuan resto that’s not quite as awesome as tian fu. if, however, you’re a fan of riesling, do check out the extensive wine list and ask the very friendly owner for recommendations.
tian fu / uhlandstr. 142 / wilmersdorf
spicy. salty. oily. just like it should be. order the hot pot or the chili chicken and let your tastebuds sing.
wok show / greifenhagener str. 31 / p’berg
best dumplings in town, and a garlicky napa cabbage salad that’ll make everyone you meet after dinner want to send you to a deserted island. just make sure to bring some of those dumplings along for company, which are also available to buy frozen for take-out.
cocktails and spirits have been experiencing a bit of a renaissance in the last decade, with all the insufferable snobbery and self-acclaimed “mixologists” that inevitably go hand in hand with such trends. that said, one can get a damn fine cocktail in all the places mentioned below. just ignore the hype if you can.
bar nou / bergmannstr. 104 / xberg
no attitude here, likely due to the location: bergmannstrassen-tourists and kiez people alike enjoy old-fashioned standards & house creations, with a decent single malt list to boot. if you’re lucky, your man behind the bar is michael, who’ll mix whatever you want (even a sex on the beach >gasp<) without batting an eye, and who’s always up for some light-hearted banter. sit at the bar if you’re older than 20, cuz the “lounge chairs” will kill your back.
reingold / novalisstr. 11 / mitte
definitely in the mixology category. this bar has a great atmosphere and high-quality drinks to match. if you are so inclined, you can discuss the intricacies of tequila or nuances of aged rums & rhums – berlin’s newest obsession – with the superduper-knowledgeable mixologists (no mere bartenders here, thank you very much). or, you can just sit back and enjoy your drink. that is, if you don’t mind smoke. cuz this is a smoking bar, just so you know.
stagger lee / nollendorfstr. 27 / sch’berg
likely also falls in the mixology-category, but with less pretentions suffered elsewhere. a small place with cozy leather seats and an atmosphere that’ll transport you to a saloon in the wild wild west, the drinks are fantastic, with the mint julep being the house specialty: served in a pewter cup with house-macerated cherries. i could make a single meal of those cherries. oh my.
rum club / top-secret location
an incredible collection of rums (the owner’s passion), a monthly sushi night and special tiki events await those select few who are invited to enter these holy halls of high-end alcoholism.
unlike amsterdam, where one can get a great cup of coffee pretty much anywhere, you have to be a bit more selective when it comes to a bean-brew that’ll wake you up and make you happy.
double eye / akazienstr. 22 / sch’berg
certainly no longer a secret, this is where you’ll get your perfect caffeine fix – likely after having waited in a line that sometimes goes out the door.
röststätte / ackerstr. 173 / mitte
you can buy the house-roasted beans or browse the wide selection of espresso machines in the store next door, or sit down with a delightful cuppa joe and watch the parade of “ironic” jeggings & fedoras pass by.