Wednesday, 4 October 2017

NEW BERLIN FAVOURITES AUTUMN 2017

Another week, another weekend trip away- this time returning to an old trusted favourite of mine, Berlin. I have of course been a few times already, sharing my new discoveries over the years on the blog (you can read them here, here and here), but thankfully this city has never seized to amaze me with the sheer number of new dining spots to discover each time I visit.

My friend and I were lucky enough to stay in my friend Leni's apartment (FYI please all go and check out her Instagram feed asap as she is not only one of the most talented photographers I know but also has a seriously amazing and inspiring sense of style), which was not only bang in the middle of Kreuzberg and with that in walking distance of many eating out hotspots, but was also seriously inspiring in it's interior style, providing us with the ideal start to our short but sweet weekend trip here.

There are a few things I distinctively dislike about Berlin - coming from the Rhineland myself in Germany I find the locals rather rude, the whole city is spread vastly, making it a bit of a mission to get almost anywhere and yes, there is an annoyingly high number of English speaking millenials trying to make it as DJs, wasting all their parents money partying at Berghain BUT if you know the right places to go to and which to avoid Berlin does have an undeniable charm as well as great quality food of all kinda on offer!

Below are a few new discoveries that I can wholeheartedly recommend for anyone planning a trip there because Berlin is not all about Berghain, currywurst and beer but much, much more!


THE BEST PIZZA IN TOWN @ STANDARD 

Standard came highly recommended by my German friend Stella (yes there is another one) and after a bit of online research I quickly gathered that this was THE place in Berlin for authentic sourdough pizza, with waiting times a norm and reservations highly recommended. Prepared as I always am I managed to book a table here for Friday night and despite tall the hype our high expectations were if anything only exceeded.

The menu is short and sticks to classic toppings with a few more local additions (wild boar salami anyone?) but the dough really does all the talking here. Chewy, with crispy crust; this rivalled the best of the best I had in Rome. We went halves on a classic margarita and their rather outstanding and appropriately named 'Standard' which comes topped with provolone cheese, basil pesto, aubergines and cherry tomatoes, and finished every last bite. 

My tip: get their 'fresella napoletana to start, the silkiest of mozzarella and juiciest of tomatoes served on ciabatta and bursting with all the quintessential Italian flavours. Standard is worth the wait AND the hype and a true Berlin gem.


AUTHENTIC MEZZE @ SABABA



Feeling a little sorry for ourselves after a heavy Friday night we managed to drag ourselves out of bed to meet my American friend Lola who has lived in Berlin for a few years now as language teacher and who is an expert in finding amazing restaurants off the beaten track. Giving her a brief of "something vaguely healthy" she suggested Sababa, a tiny family run Israeli joint, and couldn't have picked better. Yes, it's no frills and far from far fine dining but their selection of Middle Eastern dishes was not only ridiculously well priced, you'd be hard pressed to spend more than 20 euros a head even with a couple of €3.5 Aperol spritz's thrown in, but also happens to be super tasty and wholesome.

The speciality here is their homemade hummus which was one of the best I have ever had, and I've had my fair share, with your choice of topping. My fellow diners went for tender looking lamb while I went for shashuka, a fragrant tomato stew with fried eggs, to go on top of mine. Served with warm pitta bread this was sheer mezze heaven and was topped off with a delightful cucumber and yogurt dip as well as some proper baba ganoush we ordered on the side for additional dipping opportunity.

This is the sort of place you want to keep your little secret to show off to a select few, too good indeed to be discovered by the masses. Thank god Lola let us in on this one..


THE APPLE PIE OF DREAMS @ CAFÉ EINSTEIN


Some places are so famous for a dish they are bound to be something of a tourist trap and that is definitely the case at Café Einstein. Yet despite sitting next to a plethora of American families and elderly German couples, probably on a pit stop between visiting a museum and getting on one of those hideous open top double decker guide buses, I still loved the place. Why? Well one can't help but be enchanted by the slightly worn yet grand interior of the cafe, waiters looking sharp in their waist coasts, and what's more the dish this place is famous for is indeed utterly delicious.

In fact I would go as far as saying it was the best apple pie of my life. It isn't cheap that is for sure, coming in at £7 a slice, but in it's serving size is generous enough to have as afternoon snack between two. All that's left to do is choose either vanilla sauce, ice cream or a dollop of cream to go with your slice of pie (or as we did pay a little more and go for the amazing sauce and some cream because why not) and simply enjoy this out of the world baked good. Einstein thrives on it's tradition and doesn't have to be cool yet still is one of my favourite new Berlin discoveries.


THE STAND OUT DINING EXPERIENCE AT @ G WIE GOULASCH 




Once in a while you find a restaurant that truly blows you away. For me that doesn't tend to be some Michelin starred gourmet temple with a 16 course £200 menu, no for me it's a place where the proprietor is doing something special with food and where you leave feeling not only like you've had some bloody brilliant food but also an unforgettable experience- G Wie Goulasch achieved exactly that.

Not that we really expected it. I mean on paper this tiny neighbourhood joint, and with tiny I mean three tables, with seasonally changing goulash inspired dishes, sounded good but not outstanding. That all changed the minute we sat down here for an early Sunday dinner before heading to the airport. Indeed, it wasn't like we had just stepped into a restaurant, it felt like we had stepped into Levi's, the head chef and owner here, rustic kitchen and were invited to be his guests for the evening.

This unique sense of intimacy and authenticity is rarely found and instantly won us over before we had even looked at the menu. Comprising of only a starter, a few mains, including meaty goulash variations plus a veggie option, and one dessert, Levi changes the menu every couple of weeks, depending on what is in season and what he fancies making. and does a bloody brilliant job at that.

It being pumpkin season the menu heavily featured this autumnal veg and my creamy pumpkin goulasch, served with German style dumplings was an utter taste sensation, made even more special by the fact that I was able to watch the super chatty and charismatic Levi making and plating it up right in front of me. My dining companion was left equally awed by her tender veal goulash and we washed it all down with a ridiculously cheap and tasty Riesling, costing a mere 16 euros for a superb litre (!) of white wine. It's almost like we had left the Berlin of today and were in Levi's own little time bubble, reminiscent with it's candle lit room, traditional and hearty fare and dark wooden kitchen of an Art Deco Berlin of the 1920's yet somehow not feeling outdated at all.

If you go to one place in Berlin make it G Wie Goulasch, this place deserves all the praise there is. Go, chat to Levi and feel privileged to be one of his guests for the evening.

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