Berlin: New Food Discoveries

Having the luck of being to Berlin many a time now I have started to branch out and explore the food scene of this great city much more. As much as I love Bratwurst mit Brot as a lunch time stop there has to be more to Berlin than sausage. This trip I ended up having the least German food of any of my trips to this fabulous city but it just shows the diversity that Berlin has, that like London you can find any cuisine, fun restaurants and great people watching.

First stop on the trip The Bird. Now this restaurant come recommended by my sisters friend. I am always one to check out a new burger place especially as Berlin does them so well.  We headed out to the Kreuzberg branch ( they have two one in Kreuzberg and one in Prenzlauer Berg ). As it was a Friday night the place was packed and from recommendation we booked a table and glad we did because walking in and getting a table would have meant a long wait or no table at all. Turning up 10 minutes early we waited at the bar and all the staff here spoke English and seemed to prefer to communicate in English rather than my terrible German. So beers in and our table was ready. The list of burgers is vast, and there is really something for everyone. They also offer a range of steaks that come all the way from the US of A!

One of the longest burger lists I have ever seen

One of the longest burger lists I have ever seen

Having wandered through the restaurant to get to the table I saw the burgers and they looked good, so was excited to get one ordered. However, this is where the issues started. We ended up having one of the weirdest experiences of bad customer service I have ever had in a restaurant. We were ignored, then inundated with apologies, food didn’t turn up, and then we were asked to vacate our table before our allotted 2 hours was up ( you are told on booking you have the reservation for 2 hours!). I would like to say it was because it was busy, but this is the kind of restaurant that is always this busy so therefore should know what they are doing. Thank goodness the food was good because otherwise we maybe wouldn’t have seen the funny side of how terrible the service was.  The burger, 250g of premium German beef, was great, the meat juicy and full of flavour . Cooked to order and served in what looked like an English muffin it was piled high with toppings.This was an outrageously big meal but good as a rare occasion. The fries were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, but were huge in number. The size of the meal was like you were in the States. The second beer may have been a mistake, not enough room in the old stomach.

The monsterous burger and fries at the Bird

The monstrous burger and fries at the Bird

Cheesecake, not the best, not the worst

Cheesecake, not the best, not the worst

However, as good as food is I would be dubious to return as I cannot bear paying my hard earned money on bad service!  This was a good burger, but there are burgers just as good in Berlin, such as the one at White Trash, so with bad service marking it down I am not sure about returning any time soon. Maybe I will try the other location before closing my door to The Bird altogether, we will see.

The second discovery was a much more peaceful affair. We discovered a little bit of Californian Mexican at Delores. This burrito restaurant with its neon sign, brightly decorated inside and music beckons you in from the cold winters eve. It’s counter service and it’s small inside but do not be put off by this because it’s fairly quick turn around, so loiter for a few minutes I am sure someone will have left. So with a table secured it was time to decide, burrito, quessadila, taco or bowl! Loving the simplicity and pleasure of a burrito I had to go all carb, choosing from a selection of meat fillings you place your order ( nachos on the side with a range of dips of course obligatory) at the counter and you are given your number so when its ready you just come back. This is great as it means the staff have time to prepare the food properly rather than the conveyor belt style you get in the UK and can sip your beer at a table. The staff were all rather chirpy which was a nice change to the evening before staff.

Dolores

The bright and welcoming decore of Dolores

The bright and welcoming decore of Dolores

The burritos turned up and they were fine, mighty fine. Big and bulging with their range of fillings. The nachos fresh and crispy and the guacamole was big and chunky, none of this smooth stuff you get from supermarkets, this bad boy was made by hand. Everything in the burrito tasted fresh and had flavour and the difference between the chain burrito places that are popping up all over the place.

Nachos!

Nachos!

The monster burrito

The monster burrito

Now I know burritos are not everyone’s cup of tea and certainly not the meal you think of when you go to Berlin, but as someone who goes at least once a year it’s all about discovering these hidden gems and avoiding the tourist traps.  It’s the perfect stopping point after a busy day sightseeing and being on your feet all day. It’s also the perfect location ( just behind Alexanderplatz) for a lunch stop. This place had a constant stream of people coming and going the whole time we were there. Gosh if you lived near by it could be dangerous.

The final find, was a meat haven. I love meat, and am always on the hunt for a new spin on meat. I have now found a new favourite, a new meat paradise and it is called Chicago Williams! It’s hard not to fall in love with this place straight away, as you walk in from the street you are beckoned to the bar area and offered a small cup of soup – perfect when its freezing outside, and the spicy corn chowder hit the spot. The guys working there were so friendly and explained how it all worked, the different things on the menu, instantly feeling like you have been coming here for years. The menu is easy, its meat, it’s all on one big black board and you order up at the bar.

Nothing beats a cup of welcome soup

Nothing beats a cup of welcome soup

Nice Wall Art

Nice Wall Art

Inside my new meat haven

Inside my new meat haven

What’s also great about CW is that it pairs great American BBQ with a great array of German beers, one of which they brew themselves. These are guys passionate about meat and beer – amazing!! And whats more they are happy to talk you through the beer selection so you find the right one.

Back to the meat, this is all about the meat now, its easy, your order your BBQ meat, be it ribs, pulled pork, sausage, brisket or chicken, then you order your sides. The mash was so creamy, and the beans full of flavour, I would recommend them both. There are the options of sandwiches or full on meat platters so you get a bit of everything to try. I went crazy and ordered the lady like ribs and I am glad I did. The BBQ glaze was brilliant, sticky, sweet and full of tang. The meat was tender and just fell off the bone, this was not a meal you had to work at. With everything turning up on a big plastic tray you could have through yourself at a BBQ joint in the deep south. I couldn’t fault this meal. It was everything it said on the tin, relaxed American BBQ with great German beers. This is somewhere I will keep going back to, because it was great good, great service and so relaxed!

No mess plastic tray ribs - dig in!!

No mess plastic tray ribs – dig in!!

Cheesecake with a frozen shot!

Cheesecake with a frozen shot!

This was a trip of many new discoveries and a couple that will be regular haunts. Berlin has so many great restaurants to try so do not get bogged down thinking you have to eat sausage and schnitzel every night. Do as the Berliners do and dive on into their great restaurant scene.

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First Time Quail

I love having people around for dinner, it’s a chance to show off and cook something you wouldn’t normally cook during the week. So there I was pondering what to make as I wandered aimlessly around the supermarket – this happens more times than you would think – and I happened upon the game section of the meat aisle. I love game, its something that I generally only have as a treat when I go out for dinner, I never seem to choose it as something to cook at home. I don’t know why because venison is my favourite meat and I love little birds like grouse and Poussin. Of course I have ventured into the world of game before with delicious rabbit ragu!

Now one thing I haven’t tried before is quail, not sure why, but I haven’t. There in the fridge of the supermarket were quail, on special offer and calling to me. I had to do it, why not, try a new meat and learn to cook something new as well. sold!

Now quail are a tiny bird, not that much meat but as long as you have some good sides then one is more than enough for a person, although if you are feeding a hungry person who eats a lot you may want to serve them two!

tiny quail, enough for one... unless you are hungry

tiny quail, enough for one… unless you are hungry

I decided to keep my first time quail cooking simple. I looked through my cook books and the internet for recipe recommendations, how to cook, what sauce to make with it and some got really complicated. Simple is what I wanted.

To start with I decided to stuff my bird, I didn’t have time to make my own stuffing so good old store-bought would have to do, and also I was going to wrap it with streaky bacon to keep the meat moist and add a bit of flavour ( quail dries out quite quickly so if you are not using bacon make sure you baist it through cooking.

stuffed and wrapped quail ready for the oven

stuffed and wrapped quail ready for the oven

Ingredients (meal for 2)

Stuffing of choice – the size of your quail will depend on how much you make up, so make a little as per the packet to start and if you can fit more in then make some more.

2 Quail, no giblets (take out f the fridge one hour before cooking)

2 strips of streaky bacon

olive oil

mixed herbs to season ( I used thyme, rosemary and a little bit of tarragon)

150ml white wine

300ml chicken stock

1 teaspoon of flour

salt and pepper to season

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan oven). Make up your stuffing as per the packet instructions or if you are feeling super fancy make it from scratch! Once made put it to one side to cool as you do not want to be handling it hot.

2.  When the stuffing has cooled stuff the quail. Wrap one piece of bacon around the bird and secure it with a toothpick. You may want to secure the hole where you stuffed the bird with a tooth pick as well to stop the stuffing coming out. Then drizzle with olive oil and rub the herb mix in to it. Place the birds onto a roasting tin and put them into the oven.

3. Cook the birds for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. The juices should run clear. For the gravy, 15 minutes into cooking pour in 150ml of white wine  and place the tin back in the oven.

4. Once cooked remove from the oven and let the birds rest for 10 minutes. While resting make the gravy. Place the roasting tin over a medium heat and add the chicken stock, while stirring add the flour. Continue stirring ( with a whisk) until the sauce thickens and season to taste.

5. Remove the tooth picks and place the quail  on to plates. Serve with creamy mash potato and green beans. Serve with the gravy.

so yummy! stuffed quail with creamy mash and veg!

so yummy! stuffed quail with creamy mash and veg!

Enjoy! xx