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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Berlin – Food for Thought

Berlin isn’t know as a food capital,  when you talk to someone about German food your mind goes to sausages and schnitzle, and yes the first time I visited the fine city I probably would have said the same but being someone who likes to sniff out a great foody stop I persevered and have found some gems! If you scratch the surface then there is more to Berlin than bratwurst.

As much as I love Bratwurst sometimes you need more.

As much as I love Bratwurst sometimes you need more.

So I have put together three of my favourite new finds in Berlin that give you something a little bit different…. in no particular order

1. Gugelhof

The guide books all sell Gugelhof as the place Bill Clinton once ate, but it is much more than that. This Alsatian restaurant is warm and welcoming from the moment you arrive.  Now I wasnt sure what to expect of the food, as to be honest I was not entirely sure what Alsatian food consisted of, but was pleasantly surprised by everything we ate. The food, highly French in nature but with a German twist was hearty and warming and made you feel like you were in the French countryside chatting with locals rather than the middle of a city.

Having been around since the 90’s this has become a firm favourite in Berlin and I can see why, the flavoursome and hearty menu is varied offering traditional Alsatian fare such as stews and tartes. Be prepared though this food is not for the calorie counter.

Outside Gugelhof

2. White Trash Fast Food

This place was recommended by a friend of my sisters. The place is decked out in what can only be described as the mind of Captain Jack Sparrow – part rock club, part tikki bar! From the front it doesn’t look like the biggest of restaurants but as you head further back it just keeps going, and downstairs, if you get bored with dinner ( or have one too many beer steins) then there is a tatoo parlor downstairs as well as a club! The staff themselves were incredibly friendly and we were not rushed at all which is always great especially as the restaurant was really busy. I would recommend booking ahead unless you want to eat early, especially over the weekend as it looks like this place is never quite. At the weekends there is live music and DJs.

A rock n roll tiki hut!

Dive right in!

Dive right in!

Food wise, the burgers are the draw here but there is a range of American inspired food here, plus Asian, Mexican, Swiss and French – so all sorts really! We all went with burgers and to accompany it, a good old German half litre of beer…. or two. The burgers themselves were great, good flavour and a range of toppings. Just be careful with the sides we ordered the large onion rings between three of us and it was enough to feed a small family.

Fill your face with juicy burgers!

Fill your face with juicy burgers! (Not the best picture but trust me it was a good burger!)

can you have too many onion rings?

can you have too many onion rings?

After totally over indulging in chilli topped burgers, crispy fries and far too many onion rings we all decided it was of course a good idea to order desert! One giant brownie later ( with its cream, ice cream and customary cherry on top) and I was beyond full but it was so very good – moist, nutty and chocolatey! Everything you want in a brownie.

Super chocolate and indulgent desert!

Super chocolate and indulgent desert! Could this be any more American!

 

3. Mogg and Melzer

This is one of the best finds I have ever made in Berlin. Big statement I know but I am making it. I first read about this place on Conde Nast Traveller and decided it need trying out. Mogg and Melzer is one of the new Jewish inspired eateries popping up in Berlin. Housed in an old girls school which is now home to 4 floors of galleries and restaurants, Mogg and Melzer is a tiny little space great for lunch.

IMG_2211

Inside super cool Mogg and Melzer

short but sweet menu

short but sweet menu

The pastrami sandwiches are the big draw, but we went for the pulled pork and avocado sandwich which was rich with flavour and the meat just melted in your mouth. Served in door stop wedge bread and creamy coleslaw this was a delicious lunch stop.

Yum!

Yum!

We timed it just right getting the last table in this tiny establishment and it stayed busy the entire time we were  there. The three chefs behind the counter never stopped, busy making fabulous sandwich after fabulous sandwich. The poor waitress dashed between tables and never stopped but the entire time it was a relaxed atmosphere and most definitely somewhere I will be returning too and will recommend! Located in trendy Mitte there is plenty to see in the area especially if you like art!

 

MEATLiquor!

Its January and like everyone I am attempting to detox from the excess of December, I even said I was going to give up booze for the month of January ( well from the 4th Jan as I had plans for the 2nd and 3rd… oops!) but in one evening I managed to break all the rules of healthy eating and not drinking, the reason for this – MEATliquor! ooops!

Opening in 2011 Meatliquor was at the start of  the burger resurgence. Over the last couple of years more and more burger restaurants have opened up offering high quality, hand-made burgers, artisan buns like brioche and a range of toppings. A range of prices come with these burgers but Meatliquor offer great food at a great price. The only downside is its following the trend of many restaurants at the moment of not taking reservations. We were lucky, arriving at 7.15pm we didn’t have to wait more than 10mins outside before we got moved inside to the bar, where the temptation of cocktails awaited us.

Inside it’s fairly dark, there is a good mix of music playing, the tables in the front are a mix of tables and booths, at the back is the bar and more tables. We sat in the back behind the meat locker curtains ( stained red for effect!) it was a little less atmospheric than sitting in the main part of the restaurant but still nice and the staff were attentive.

Inside Meatliquor

Inside Meatliquor

The Liquor in Meatliquor

The Liquor in Meatliquor

So lets start with the cocktails, as half the restaurants name states, liquor makes up half of this place. The cocktail list is long, I quickly became a fan on of the Summer of Love, mango vodka, lemon juice, passionfruit and grapes – its long, fresh and tastes like you are getting some of your five a day! If I hadn’t been a wee bit hung over from the night before then I would have made it further down the list, but it’s a great reason to go back and carry on trying that list of drinks!

Right, let’s get to the important bit, the meat. The burger list is long but not too long that you sit there pondering your choice for ages, and surprisingly the veggie option actually sound really nice. The burger, its a good hand-made patty, grilled to a medium/ well, a touch crispy on the outside and moist and a little pink in the middle. Then the toppings, a good range. I went traditional bacon cheese, they don’t try to get fancy with the cheese its a good old american melty cheese, the bacon crispy and cooked to perfection ( I hate it when the bacon isnt crispy!). Then we get to the bread, I find it annoying when burger places serve their burgers in massive rolls as the bread fills you up too much, the bread at MEATliquor was just the right ratio, a soft thin bun. So all in all it was a flippin good burger!

The amazing burgers arrived!

The amazing burgers arrived!

The sides of course make up the meal, the fries were crisp, the portion was huge, one between two of us was more than enough. We also went with onion rings, which were just the right amount of crisp! The meal came served on a tray, quite quaint, clearly an effective way to keep the washing up down and to keep with that deconstructed feeling that was going on with the décor.

Overall this was a great burger and a great dinner. The queuing does put me off, as I worry if I got there later than 7.30 on a Saturday evening I could end up queuing for a while, but the lure of the great cocktails, good service and great food is a reason to keep queuing!