Berlin food scene

I was whisked off to Berlin for a few days by Lissen this weekend. I'm ashamed to admit to any kind of gastro-prejudice, but I didn't hold out much hope of eating well there – having never, ever eaten well in Germany (unless you count Kinder Milschschnitte, which you might justifiably do, they are great).


 But, special offer burgers aside, how wrong can I be? 


(Wrong enough to think that t-shirt would conceal that stomach, for instance).

We stayed in East Berlin and so had a dazzling array of cheap Vietnamese, Indian and Turkish restaurants to gorge in – all of them fabulous and authentic. And cheap. Like, five Euro for a main course cheap.

But old habits die hard and, by the end of the second day, I was itching to spend some money on fancy, pretentious food, so made a reservation at the oddly named MA Tim Raue, which has a Michelin star. That said, I wasn't itching to spend the EUR128 that it costs to eat in the more expensive, Chinese part of the restaurant, so instead booked into the slightly cheaper Japanese section.

And here comes the salutary lesson in why it's not always a good idea to be an insufferable fusspot when dining out. Shown a table in a window alcove overlooking the pavement outside, I asked if we could move to the main dining room, which was lovely and light, with a glass ceiling and a 2,000 Chinese clay horse statue. I love a good 2,000 year old Chinese clay horse statue.

Sure, no problem, said the waiter, and, carrying our wasabi gimlets, we sidled into the main dining room feeling rather pleased with ourselves. To cut a long story short, turns out we had unwittingly moved into the more expensive restaurant and ended up coughing up around EUR270 for dinner.

This only began to dawn on me until after we had ordered the EUR98 fixed menu and, being English, I was too polite/ashamed to make a fuss.

Still, it was an interesting meal. Fussy as can be, perhaps a tad un-refined and over-spiced compared to something at a similar price level in Paris, but I'm glad I tried it. 

(This was a low point, but unfortunately the only photo I thought to take: it's sole on top of deboned, rolled chicken leg in some kind of spicy sauce. No, me neither).

I was slightly disappointed in the supposedly legendary food hall in the KaDeWe department store on Ku'damm. Not a patch on Le Bon Marche or Selfridges, but did pick up some corn syrup (good for various desserts and often called for in American recipes) and some of my favourite Cognac mustard. What a ponce.

Oh, and they did also have some of these:


They are oesophegi/oesopheguses, you know, throats. Apparently, Berliners use them for stocks, then throw them away. Well, you live and learn.

Still, I did get to try a Kinder Milschsnitte ice cream at the wonderful Genellis ice cream parlour and cafe in Kreuzberg. Not kidding, one of the greatest ice cream flavours ever.

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  1. 1
    Jim McP

    My brother and I are off to Berlin next weekend. Amongst other things, we intend to eat our own weight in Currywurst! We get quite analytical in a Newsnight Review kind of way about the pros and cons of each one we try.

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