Seeking out good places to eat in a new city isn’t just a way to fill your belly with yummy things while on holiday. Travelling around trying to find delicious eateries can be a great way to discover hidden parts of a city as well.
That’s my excuse, anyway.
Myself and Niall were in Berlin over last week for the Berlin Festival at Tempelhof Airport. We first visited the city last year, and we did a lot of the touristy sight-seeing as well as squeezing in a hilarious meal at Unsicht-Bar.
This year we felt more free to be pure food tourists. Have a look after the jump to find out what we discovered.
Cookies Cream 55 Behrenstraße, Mitte, 10117 Berlin
Our first evening was spent at a sort of overground underground restaurant called Cookies Cream. I got a Twitter tip from Rachel Collins that this restaurant at the end of a winding dark alleyway above a nightclub had the best vegetarian food she had ever tasted.
There are a few clues that you’re going in the right direction as you walk down the winding and deserted alleyway off of Behrenstrasse. The giant and distinctly out of place chandeliers hanging above parked cars, for instance.
The front door is large and made of steel with an unmarked buzzer to the right. We were buzzed in and found ourselves in the front room of a dark and empty nightclub. Out of the darkness appeared our hostess for the evening, who led us through the dark club and up a few dingy flights of stairs until we found ourselves in a chic restaurant with white linen on the tables.
The menu was an inspiring read of not-your-average-vegetarian food. There wasn’t a risotto in sight. We went for the three courses for €32 deal (expensive for Berlin) and had a very enjoyable, if more interesting than delicious, entirely vegetarian meal. We had three courses each, a lovely bottle of Reisling, some sparkling water and two coffees. Our bill came to just over €100. Again, pricey for Berlin.
The experience of finding Cookies Cream definitely helps to make the meal a memorable one. If you have the time and spare cash, keep it in mind.
I didn’t bring my camera but here’s a mobile phone pic of my starter of Green Gazpacho of Honey Melon with marinated Turnips and Cress:
I’m really not sure why the turnip was on top of the lid of the soup jar. Must be a Mitte thing.
And my dessert of Woodruff Champagne Soup with Strawberry Sorbet, Fruit Compote, White Chocolate and Crumble:
Cookies Cream is open for dinner from Tuesday to Sunday, opening for dinner at 7pm. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, your dinner reservation also includes free entry to the Cookies club. You can book on-line through their website.
Cafe Sayan Goltzstraße 23, 10781 Berlin
Our awesome friend Emily, an American living in Berlin, brought us to a Persian restaurant called Shayan in the leafy Schöneberg area of the city. On our last evening in the city, after two days of partying at Berlin festival, we were in dire need of some comfort food. Our shared starter of an Iranian platter for three went a long way to sorting us out.
Everything on the platter was a winner but the highlight was the deep-fried balls of spinach stuffed with raisins and almonds. Outrageous.
We all went for lamb curries. Each of them were fragrantly unique but I secretly thought mine was the most delicious. It was supremely tender lamb with crispy roasted potato slices, tomatoes and yellow lentils in a tomato and lime sauce, with some Persian saffron basmati rice and a crispy side salad.
With our starter platter, the three lamb curries plus three beers our bill came to just over €43.
Sayan is open every day from 12 noon to 12 midnight. Well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
The festival itself meant dinner for two nights of our four day trip was a bratwurst or a vegan hotdog grabbed from a stall on-site, so we made an effort to make sure brunch was a worthy meal. Armed with The Guardian’s list of 10 best breakfast places, we managed to squeeze in some good spots for brunch.
The first, and what turned out to be our favourite, was Cafe Rix.
Cafe Rix 141 Karl-Marx Strasse, Neukölln, 12043 Berlin
Cafe Rix in Neukölln is housed in a building which once acted as a ballroom. It was restored and transformed into a cafe in the 1980s yet the idea of old Berlin has been left in the decor of the main room. Next door to the cafe is also a large theatre room, in which there was a team sound-checking as we brunched.
Niall had some Spätzle with mushrooms and bacon in a cheesy sauce.
I had the Lachs (smoked salmon) with horseradish sauce and the most delicious potato rosti.
It was simple but tasty, served in a peaceful and calm room where other customers were reading newspapers or working on computers using the free wi-fi in the building. Best thing is it serves breakfast until 5pm. Pretty understanding of Berlin’s nightlife and how that can affect one’s rising times.
Cafe Barcomi Sophie-Gips-Höfe, 2nd courtyard, Sophienstrasse 21, Mitte
This is a New York Deli style spot in a lovely courtyard in Mitte, and we spent a happy hour there drinking their homemade Ice Tea. The food itself was fine, above average but nothing special. Just a fine bagel and cream cheese with smoked salmon and an all right Rueben sandwich.
However, we had read that the New York cheesecake alone was worth visiting for, so we grabbed a slice to go. Boy golly wow was it good. We were trying to walk down the street and share our slice on the go but it stopped us in our tracks, it was so good. So maybe just go for the cheesecake and leave the Lachs to Cafe Rix.
Keyser Soze 33 Tucholskystraße, Mitte, 10117 Berlin
We had a lovely time with our blogger friend Robin and his lady Nadina on Saturday morning at Keyser Soze. Unfortunately it was all due to the company as opposed to the service at this packed cafe. We waited 45 minutes to order our brunch, which was decent enough. When it finally arrived 25 minutes later. Bad form. So I’ve mentioned it here as one to avoid on a busy Saturday morning, but a nice enough spot for a quieter day.
Nice breakfast, shite service.
Some other places of note:
The Barn 58 Augustsrasse, Mitte, 10119 Berlin
Colin from 3FE had given me the recommendation to check this little cafe out, so I knew the coffee was going to be killer. It didn’t disappoint at all.
Hoai Nam 103 Skalitzer Strasse, Kreuzberg, 10997 Berlin
Delicious Vietnamese food right across the road from U-Bahnhof Görlitzer Bahnhof, that we ate in on our last visit to Berlin. The food was great and it was super cheap.
Monsieur Vuong 46 Alte Schönhauser Strasse, Mitte, 10119 Berlin
Another Vietnamese restaurant we checked out last year, Monsieur Vuong has the most delicious spring rolls ever.
Unsicht Bar Gormannstr. 14, Mitte, 10119 Berlin
The restaurant where you eat in the dark. Pitch dark. Here’s how we found it last year.
Ankerklause Kottbusser Brucke Ecke Maybachufer, between Neukölln and Kreuzberg, 10967 Berlin
A lovely spot on the river for a beer in Kreuzberg. Serves food too but we went for the beer and surly service.
Cafe Sofia 93 Wrangelstrasse, Kreuzberg, 10997 Berlin
A nice little bar in Kreuzberg where we had a few late night beers.
Kirk Bar 75 Skalitzer Strase, Kreuzberg, 10997 Berlin
A nice little bar in Kreuzberg where we had a few even later night beers.
Das Huhnerhaus – Skalitzer Strasse, Ecke Gorlitzer Strasse, Kreuzberg, Berlin
This was another spot Emily brought us to. It’s a roadside shack where you can buy half a rotiserrie chicken with fries and a salad for a fiver. I doubt it’s free-range (not speaking the language makes one less principled about the provenance of one’s food) but the chicken tasted amazing, especially eaten in a nearby park and washed down with a bottle of beer.
Here’s our new friend Big Stu on his love of Das Hühnerhaus. Amaze.