Week 8 : Pierogarnia (Poland)

As soon as I saw this place I knew I wanted to go as I love pierogi and what better than a restaurant entirely devoted to this yummy Polish filled dumpling. Pierogarnia is tucked away in Wedding, a few minutes walk from Seestrasse U Bahn, again handily close to Vagabund brew pub. Inside is really homely and cute (think Polish grandmother’s house), the menu is simple and cheap and they seemed popular early on a cold Friday evening.

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We were three people this week as my friend Tanager joined us which meant that we could try more things. We ordered four lots of pierogi (meat, pumpkin & wild mushroom with sauer kraut) bigos soup and sausage to be washed down with polish beer.

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Everything was delicious and soon devoured. The meat pierogis were the best as they were really earthy and well seasoned, the sausage was particularly impressive and the bigos (a cabbage and meat stew) was hearty and good. We were all full as we left and very pleased with the super cheap prices (38 euros for enough food to fill us up plus four beers). We will be back.

Week 7 : AmmAmma (Tamil South India)

Winter has truly arrived in Berlin and kindly brought me a sinus infection which meant we were a little late with week seven. Also this means that we are feeling less inclined to trek across the city on the whim of a random number between one and fifty-two, so locality has started to become more of a decision factor. With this in mind we found a well reviewed South Indian restaurant just round the corner from us called AmAmma. We had a small debate over whether this  restaurant would count for the whole country of India but decided that the Tamil South Indian region was distinct enough to warrant its own week and we will save North/Central India for another visit. If anyone thinks this is cheating we can leave the rest of India from the challenge?

I have read and observed that Indian cuisine in Berlin seems to suffer from similar problems of ubiquity vs authenticity as Chinese food. This blog sums it up rather scathingly well and might be useful when we decide to go for North Indian food. AmAmma seemed like a good choice because it didn’t double up as a tacky cocktail restaurant-cum-bling Buddhist shrine. The interior was simple and warm with only one Buddha discreetly watching over us and no umbrellas, tacky exotica or animal skins (Berliners know where I’m talking about).

Richard’s eternal Berlin quest now seems to be finding food that is actually scharf (spicy, hot) to a non-German palette. Only one dish (Chennai) described itself as such so he chose the duck version and when asked if he wanted it truly spicy he insisted on having ‘the version you would do back in India’. I went for the lamb jajfna which contained okra (my favourite) and was described as ‘mittel-scharf’ . We also ordered some puffy bhatura bread and starters of lentil balls and mutton croquettes.

The menu also had a good selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes but as always we chose the meat option like the dreadful carnivores we are! The service was friendly if at times patchy and we were impressed with the low prices which included the drinks at 2.50 for a large Weiss beer.
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The starters arrived suspiciously quickly and tasted as though they had been hanging around all weekend and had been microwave reheated. Both dishes were bland and heavy and rather unappealing. Thankfully the main courses made up for the disappointment with huge portions of meat in delicious, fragrant coconut thickened gravy served with rice and salad. The spicing just about delivered although if they were served in the UK (or South India I suspect) they would be much more zingy and pack more of a punch. The bread was really yummy and we could have devoured a lot more if we weren’t so full. If we return we will skip the starters and enjoy a cheap, filling and tasty meal. We were so impressed that we even pointed out that we had been undercharged and left a decent tip.
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Week 6 : Merle’s Rum und Roti (Trinidad)

This week in Berlin the weather has taken a turn for the Arctic so for a change we ditched the random element of restaurant selection as we fancied a bit of sunshine and spice. We found a Trinidadian restaurant in Mehringdamm called Merle’s Rum & Roti which fitted the bill with good reviews and cheap prices.

The restaurant was brightly painted, simple and welcoming and we were greeted by the lovely proprietress Merle wearing her signature hibuscus flower in her hair and a smile warm enough to counter the subzero temperatures outside. On the tables were place mats explained some of the history of Trinidad and how this has influenced the cuisine which is a mixture of Caribbean, South American, Creole and Indian.

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The menu is very simple, four starters and a small selection of meat, vegetable and fruit stews and curries served with either a dhalpourie (split pea roti) or a paratha (layered plain roti). We ordered starters of fish cakes and potato somosas followed by beef stew and chicken curry.

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Everything we ate was really fresh and tasty with interesting and aromatic spicing. The starters came with homemade chilli and mango dips. We asked for extra sauces with the mains and got a super hot habanero dip and another sticky brown sauce that tasted sweet and woody and unlike anything I’ve ever tried before. The chicken curry was good but the beef was the star as it was rich and melt in the mouth. The spicing level was medium but intricate and the addition of the hot sauce allowed you to pimp your spice. Also worth mentioning is the delicious homemade refreshing ginger beer which you can have with or without rum. The service was friendly and considerate and we were happy with the sub 40 euro bill. Another successful discovery.

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