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Where to eat in Berlin by HOLIDAY MAGAZINE & DELSEY PARIS
Berlin’s dining scene has come a long way since
the fall of the Wall. Today, you’ll find updated German dishes, worldly flavors and a wide variety of cuisines prepared by up-and-coming chefs from around the globe. Where exactly? We have some ideas.
The two distinct halves of the city of Berlin, East and West, became one again over 30 years ago. Since the destruction of most of the Berlin Wall, the two sides have melded into each other, with the once-geographically-isolated West Berlin, surrounded by East Germany, becoming more accessible to the outside world, and East Berlin, formerly isolated by Soviet Communist control, opening up to the West and welcoming (for the most part) many of the luxuries and consumer goods once denied to it.
With its low prices and sometimes lawless atmosphere (due to the absence of established regulations in the new entity), the reunited Berlin became an absolute haven for artists and young people from all over the world who were looking for low rents and freedom to rave. Berlin’s club scene became legendary.
Those heady early days are gone. As the city reinvented, remodeled and rebuilt itself, prices rose, the party scene waned and new laws were passed, leaving Berlin looking more and more like Europe’s other major cities.
As the city went, so went the restaurant scene, becoming increasingly sophisticated and open to the world. Today, visitors can still find schnitzel, bratwurst and currywurst, but most of the best restaurants are looking outward and taking inspiration from world cuisines, from Asia to North and South America, and, of course, Europe. Read on to discover 10 highly varied eateries
worth your time and your dime.
No restaurant could be more international than the Grill Royal in Mitte, a plush Berlin institution that imports meat and fish of indisputable quality from around the world: beef fillets from Germany, wagyu from Australia and Kobe beef from Japan, for example. A number of American cuts are on offer as well, including porterhouse, T-bone and New York strip steak. The fish might be wild bass from the Mediterranean, wild sole from
the North Sea, salmon from Scotland or lobster from Canada. This is one of those see-and-be-seen places where you can eat familiar foods in a lively, comfy setting with an arty clientele and a view of the Spree River. A less pricey meal with a more varied menu can be had at the restaurant's offshoot, Le Petit Royal in Charlottenburg. Both have notable wine lists.
Another institution, but one where you can find regional food, Borchardt in Mitte, has a stately brasserie-style interior complete with pillars, red banquettes and brass rails, and a bustling, very Berlin atmosphere. Celebs like Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp claim it as one of their favorites. It’s best known for its Wiener schnitzel, crispy on the outside and juicy inside, and even has a vegan version.
The Swedish owners of La Côte in Schillerkiez looked south for inspiration – to France, the Mediterranean and even India – rather than north to their homeland. Serving both small, sharable plates and full-size main courses, this friendly neighborhood place offers such creative dishes as the popular panipuri (stuffed flatbread) with beef tartare, aioli and pine nuts, or duck with redcurrant sauce, confit garlic, roasted chestnuts and mangold. The cocktails are another attraction in this fairly new restaurant gaining attention for its food, stylish interior and friendly atmosphere.
The nearby Barra also specializes in the currently trendy small, sharable plates, made with farm-fresh ingredients. The winter menu offers such inventive dishes as scallops with pear and seaweed, smoked eel with white asparagus and hazelnuts, and saddleback pork with morels and wild garlic rosti, mostly made
with locally sourced ingredients. For dessert, the ricotta ice cream with blood orange and chinato (an Italian fortified wine) is extremely tempting, but the chocolate mousse is a special favorite. The decor is minimalist, but the vibe is laid-back and friendly.
The food on the plates is as artful as the paintings on the walls in the high-ceilinged Café im Literaturhaus, housed in a villa in a quiet spot in Charlottenburg. Blessed with a lovely garden, it also has a winter garden for cooler days. The popular breakfast is served until 2 PM, and other menu items are served all day long, with such dishes as quail breast with apple-celery salad or guinea fowl with red-cabbage risotto. A bookstore in the basement and various literary events justify the name, while the Käthe Kollewitz Museum next door is definitely worth a visit.
Where is German food to be found in Berlin, you may be wondering. Joseph Roth Diele in Mitte serves German classics like sausage with lentils in an atmospheric Old World pub complete with wood paneling, red-checked tablecloths and tiled floors. There are even a few non-meat offerings, such as
vegetarian dumplings with potato salad or käsespätzle (baked spätzle with cheese and onions) with salad.
Spindler, located on the Landwehr Canal in Kreuzberg, has a number of advantages: a handsome period building, a high-style interior with hand-made and antique furnishings, artworks and a garden. The international-style food includes such dishes as corn chicken with baby kale, confit lemon and jalapeño peppers or the ubiquitous burrata, here dressed up with red onion compote, radicchio, raspberry, blackberry cream and pain de mie. Grilled meats and fish are also available.
The name of the restaurant Henne means “hen”
in German, and that’s the recommended (and practically only) main course to eat at this venerable Berlin restaurant: half of a young broiler chicken, fried to moist and crispy perfection using a secret recipe and usually consumed with coleslaw or potato salad and beer. More than a hundred years old, Henne, located in Mitte, has a woodsy pub feel and a terrace for warm-weather dining.
Remi, also in Mitte, serves chicken, too, but here it’s Schröders Hof farm chicken cooked “coq au vin-style” with sage, carrots and thyme jus. The setting is also a world and a century away from Henne. Located in an architect-designed modern building, Remi has an open kitchen and a sleek contemporary decor, spiced up with touches of cherry-red and acid-green and brightly lit by floor-to-ceiling windows. The interior was inspired by the decorative ethos of the homeland of the two chefs: the Netherlands. It’s the perfect setting for the modern European cuisine with occasional Asian touches.
Behind a graffiti-splattered facade in Charlottenburg is 893 Ryōtei, a Tokyo-style izakaya with an open kitchen that serves some of the best sushi in Berlin but also such unexpected creations as spaghettini with spicy cod roe, cream, butter, nori and shiso, or yellowtail with Peruvian salsa and olive oil. Sashimi taquitos, udon noodles and grilled meat are also on the menu in this restaurant with a nightclub-dark interior.