Tell Me Who You Take To Berlin
22 February, 2016
Oh, Berlin! How can it be at once traditional and modern, cosmopolitan and friendly, cool and… cheap? One thing is certain – the German capital has options to suit all pockets, and food for all palates. It matters not who you go with, as we shall now prove.
Weihenstephaner – Bavarian Food For Your Parents
“What! We’re off to Berlin? Wouldn’t it be better to visit Aunt Anselma in Cuenca, son?” That’s how your parents reacted – fearing something too modern – when you gifted them a flight to Berlin. Just as well you found a decent little hotel in downtown Mitte. The rest was a cinch – a tour of Museum Island, a stroll through the ever lively Oranienburger Strasse. Night was falling by the time you reached Hackescher Markt and then you knew for sure – Weihenstephaner. This Bavarian-style restaurant, with two endless floors and countless saloons, wooden tables and waiters dressed as you would imagine Germans to be attired on festive occasions, was the perfect option. The restaurant is named after the beer brewed in Weihenstephan Abbey since at least 1040. And, yes, you can quaff enormous glasses of any of the varieties, from the mildest blondes to the highest-proof dark brews. If you then add succulent roast pork in beer sauce, garnished with potato dumplings, or a scrumptious veal currywurst, you understand why tears were rolling down your father’s face. Sheer bliss! And, for less than 20 euros a head, unless you get carried away with the beer.
Hasir – The Original Kebab With Your Younger Bosom Brother
You had promised your brother a trip in September if he passed all his subjects. Well, you know… but the guy goes and passes everything! You asked him where he would like to go and he replied without hesitation, “Berlin”. He was probably gunning for the Berghain, likely the best techno club in the world, although that depends on the mood the bouncers are in. After sundown, it was up to you to show him the city and, as the lad was not yet worldly-wise, you thought of taking him to Kreuzberg, the Turkish quarter, which has now been taken over by the modern crowd. Halal butcher’s shops stand alongside second-hand clothing stores; corner shops with things Muslim opposite bio-organic cafés. In short, a culture clash which left him open-mouthed. When it came to feeding him you chose Hasir, a Turkish food classic, run by a bloke who is supposed to have invented the döner kebab. The eatery is decorated with a map of the Anatolian Peninsula, photos of customers and the odd Turkish kitsch motif. The food lived up to expectations – outrageously big helpings which are ideal for your brother, who was making his final growth spurt.
Berlin Street Food Market/The Circus – The Winning Combo for your Hipster Friend
Is there any more hipster destination than Berlin? That’s what you were thinking when you got two tickets for your best friend, that bearded skateboarding guy, even though he was already greying and had been collecting board games from the 80s. “I’ll have a tough time surprising him”, you thought as you printed your Vueling tickets. Thank goodness someone tipped you off that, the second weekend each month, the KulturBrauerei building, in the modern heart of Prenzlauer Berg itself, hosts an awesome Street Food Market. The Germanic ethos comes through in this event, organised to perfection, with long rows of dining tables, a DJ and such tempting offerings as Eastern baos, Cuban cuisine, vegan pies and… with no queues! All one hundred per cent conceived, designed and executed in food trucks. To crown it all, you took him to the Katz & Maus Tap Room, the bar at The Circus designer hostel, with their craft beer made right there, the barrels and metal stills on display to bear out its authenticity. And, at a good price! Great music, ranging from Indie to rock classics, rounding off a fine example of what any hotel bar ought to be. You achieved it – your friend was left stroking his beard, speechless, enjoying a delicious craft beer.
Lucky Leek – How to Win Your Vegan Girlfriend’s Heart
Granted, your first date was disastrous. You took her to have a hamburger and that was when she uttered those three words that changed everything forever: “I’m a vegan”. That’s why the thought of a trip to Berlin made her raise an eyebrow as if to say, “I don’t intend to eat a single sausage!” But, you were clever, since Berlin happens to be Europe’s vegetarian capital for 2016. What’s more, you bet a winner – you booked a table at Lucky Leek, a high-flying vegan restaurant recommend by the Michelin Guide. Their chef, Josita Hartanto, works magic on fruit and vegetables, with such dishes as aubergine bread with seitan and tofu and courgette salad, or tomato soup with vegetable dumplings. Think green… and you can’t go wrong!
Text and photos by Javier Casto of Gastronomistas
22 February, 2016