In December in Berlin, you certainly crave a bit of Caribbean sunshine in your life. This week’s visit to Madinina in Friedrichshain was therefore a welcome visit on a cold and grey evening. Warschauer strasse is not somewhere you would usually expect to find a Caribbean restaurant, being as it is; a fairly non-descript, ugly, thoroughfare to Berlin’s main nightlife district and I was surprised when I first noticed this place from the M10 tram on my journey back from Prenzlauerberg one night. At five thirty on a Saturday evening, it seemed that very few other people knew it was there either as it was almost empty apart from one other couple. The interior was warm and welcoming though with a wooden shack style bar and a huge, attractive mural of fishermen on the beach on one wall.
We sat by the window (and the radiator) and waited for some service from the ghostly quiet bar and kitchen. Eventually we were greeted by a solo waiter with a small handwritten menu and a laminated drinks card which mainly involved variations on rum. We chose a ti-punch rum with sugar and lime, and a ginger punch. We were expecting long drinks as implied by the word ‘punch’ from our understanding. Instead we were given a shot of rum with sugar and lime and a shot of rum with ginger liqueur. The confusion continued into the starters as we swiftly received the meat pastries we had ordered but they came plain without any sauce or salsa. I asked if we could have something and was told ‘no, this is the authentic way to eat them.’ If they had been moist, unctuous and yummy pies then this would not be a problem, but they were dry and flavourless and to make things worse he disappeared into the kitchen before we could order beers to quench our thirst and all we had for lubrication were the rum shots!
Next came crayfish beignets (Accras mit Flusskrebs) which were better and tastier but still would have benefited from a spicy salsa. I knew better than to bother asking this time but just managed to order the beers before he disappeared again. Richard seemed to be enjoying everything more than me which could have been because I found myself in a lack-of-sleep induced bad mood which was perhaps clouding my judgement. The accras were fairly light and tasted nice and they came with an okay side salad. Richard pointed out that as this place is creole and from a French influenced cuisine this might explain the lack of a hot sauce to pep things up. This explanation went out of the window when the main courses were served (whole grilled sea bass and a curried beef dish) and we were all of a sudden offered some sauces! A hot pepper sauce and a lighter coconut one. They would have been awesome with the starters but seemed strange to be offered hot sauce with a wet curry? This mystery was in-turn revealed on tasting the curry which was extremely bland and needed all the hot sauce you could add. The sea bass was pretty decent though, a good sized fish, moist and well grilled and served with a tasty tomato salsa and rice.
Sleepiness took over as soon as the food was finished and we quickly asked for the bill so we could get home. At 55 euros this is one of the more expensive meals we have had for the blog and I felt pretty disappointed overall with what we had eaten. Maybe I ordered the wrong things? Maybe I was too tired to be objective? But whatever the reason we will not be returning and if we need a bit of Caribbean sunshine in our lives we will be straight over to Trinidadian Merle’s Rum & Roti in Kreuzberg instead for some delicious salsa and in my opinion much better food.