67 : Creperie Breton – France (Brittany)

This was a rather late find about which I was delighted as it knocked Ireland off the list. With its own flag and a small seccessionist movement, Brittany can have its own cuisine as far as I am concerned, and that cuisine mainly consists of sweet and savory crepes and/or galettes. And cidre of course.

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On a Saturday evening at 6pm this place on Reichenburgstrasse in Kreuzberg was completely empty and so I was glad I hadn’t embarassed myself by calling ahead to reserve a table. We sat in the middle of a mostly wooden room with pictures of Brittany, flags of Brittany and even examples of the clothing of Brittany which you could buy for 25 euros. It wasn’t overdone though and seemed pleasant enough.

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The menu is fairly one dimensional and there are few decisions to be made, such crepe or galette? Sweet or savory? Meat or cheese? We chose a three cheese galette and a boudin noir (black pudding) and apple galette. Rich had a cup of cidre and I had a special Picon which is a Breton shandy. It was a bit weird being the only people in the restaurant but thankfully the waitress had enough Berlin Schnauz to not give a shit about us.

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The food was exactly as expected, no suprises. A well cooked galette with tasty cheese and a dressed salad and a tangy blood pudding version with the sweetness of apple cutting through. Rich enjoyed his cidre which I sniffed at but did not try (on account of being ‘allergic’ after having my stomach pumped after an evening on it aged 15.) And in case you are wondering a galette is a pancake made with buckwheat flour usually with a savoury filling (thank you wikipedia).

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We were not significantly inspired by our mains so as to choose dessert and therefore cannot comment on the crepes. This place is definitely one for the pancake fans I guess, but not a place I will remember for very long.

66 : De Molen : The Netherlands

That there was any distinct cuisine in the Netherlands suprised me, and when I asked a Dutch friend she told me in no uncertain terms to avoid it. I wasn’t looking forward to visiting De Molen at Ostkreuz and we decided to get it out of the way on a Saturday afternoon when we were in the area. First impressions were not so good either. We arrived at a large snack bar with a weird chip sculpture on the front and walked in to order from the entirely beige selection of food available to be warmed through in the deep fat fryer.

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From an unappetising line up we decided upon cheese kroketten, meat kroketten, a portion of fries with satay, a frikandel sausage, a kipkorn chicken sausage and kasesoufflesse (battered cheese sausage). We took a beer to share (German anarchist pilsner) and sat down at one of the twee tables in a room full of Dutch paraphanalia with windmills and tulips galore.

imageThe two plates of food arrived quickly and bless him; the tattooed-punk-server-guy had done a lovely job with the presentation of something that was so unpresentable. We tucked in and were pleasantly suprised by the lack of grease considering that everything had passed through the deep fat fryer. The flavours of everything were okay especially the cheese filled deep fried stuff and the fries were nice, crisp and chunky.

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We won’t be rushing back here. Ever. But, we were quite suprised at how deftly they managed to make this uninspiring beige meal and the owner obviously really cares about his or her snack bar. Maybe it all makes more sense if you are Dutch though…

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Date of visit : 12 March 2016

65 : Grünfisch – Sicily

When I discovered Grünfisch last year I was intrigued to find out what was different in Sicilian cuisine to mainstream Italian food. According to wikipedia there are many similarities although Sicilian food is also influenced by Greek, Spanish, French and Arabic influences. We had to wait a while to find out in person because the prices at Grünfisch, which is on Graefestrasse in Kreuzberg, are pretty high at between 15-25 for a main course. We finally found the money to visit on a weekday early in March ready to discover what Sicily had to offer.

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The restaurant decor was very classic with some upmarket touches alongside some of the traditional elements of an old fashioned trattatoria such as amphora and dangling vines. The menu was fairly small and appears to change regularly. You chose from a small selection of starters and mains, or one of three menus; one tailored to meat, one to fish and one vegetarian. We chose from the individual dishes and went for a beef carpaccio with tuna sauce, a swordfish carpaccio with fennel and orange for starters and for mains we chose the black ravioli with crab and langoustine and a pork loin with dumpling.

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The beef and tuna combination is one that I have tried before in a restaurant in Thessaloniki and it does work well with the salty tuna acting as seasoning to the soft beef. Richard really enjoyed his light and fresh tasting swordfish starter. The portions were generous and the presentation was considered and attractive. The free bread was also very good and was served with a delicious truffle butter.

IMG_2665The main courses were less impressive than the starters. My crab ravioli and langoustine dish was a bit mixed. The crab filling was a bit too acidic and the wild garlic sauce a bit cloying, but the langoustines were prefectly cooked if a little difficult to eat as they were served in their shells. Richard found his pork dish to be very tasty but as this was one of the most expensive items on the menu he found it a bit disappointing. The pork was billed as being a special type of pork but there was no discernable difference and the portion was less generous than expected.

IMG_2667The wines we chose to accompany the foods were very good. We had a half litre of a white Grillo de Rapitala and a half litre of Nero D’Avola at an average of 15 euros. Without dessert the overall bill came to 100 euros with a tip which is one of the highest prices we have paid for a blog meal so far. For this kind of money we maybe expected more wows and we will not be revisiting this place as we have the incredible French Le Saint Amour nearby for a more high end food treat. As for how Sicilian food differs, we can say perhaps that this place was more French in style than classic Italian with some mediterranean influence such as the citrus dressing for the swordfish,  but the pork dish left us confused as this felt more German than anything else so we are perhaps still a bit puzzled as to the authenticity of the food on offer at Grünfisch.

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64: Zum Bohemische Garten (Czech)

We went on holiday to the Czech Republic last year and the food was not very impressive. We were therefore not really looking forward to visiting this cuisine and put it off until a cold Saturday evening after an afternoon of walking around freezing Friedrichshain so this kind of hearty fare was more welcome. To visit this restaurant we had to get the S3 train out from Ostkreuz to Karlshorst which is near the river Spree just beyong Rummelsburg. Zum Böhmische Garten is located out of the way, in a quiet residential area and we were suprised how busy it was. We were given one of the last tables in the traditionally decorated room by a very old-fashioned, middle-aged, sweet natured, man with a big, bristley moustache who seemed rather bemused to have a young-ish British couple visiting his small locals’ restaurant which is out of the ex-pat’s gaze.

Robber's Pork

Robber’s Pork

We chose some delicious beer to start; a pilsner and a dunkel, and we shared what was described as a ‘typical Czech dish’ of minced meat on garlic bread as a starter. For the main course Richard went for the ‘robbers’ pork stew, and I had roast pork with bread dumplings. When the food came we felt very uncomfortable taking photos as it was a very quiet and intimate restaurant, and we were under our moustachioed friend’s constant gaze. Also it seemed like a weird thing for us to be doing especially as the food was nothing special to look at. We waited for his back to be turned and then quickly snapped away, hence the lack of quality photos.

Roast Pork

Roast Pork

The starter was not my favourite dish as it resembled chilli con carne on toast. It tasted okay but just seemed a bit odd as a concept. The main courses were much better. My soft roast pork came with delicious and comforting bread dumplings, tangy cabbage, and little bits of crackling on top. Richard’s pork dish, tomatoey and rich, was served underneath a giant potato pancake and so was very hearty. He really enjoyed it although it was not quite to my taste. The other dishes that came out for other diners looked really good especially the giant schnitzels. We decided that given the location on the way to Muggelsee that we would revisit in the summer with huge appetites gained from an evening swim, and that we would try some of the other dishes because everything looked good and were reasonably priced at an average of 12 euros for a large, filling, main course.

bread dumplings

bread dumplings

This blog has brought me to some different places that I would never otherwise have considered and Zum Bohemischen Garten is indeed a good find that left us full and satisfied as we stood on the S-Bahn platform waiting for the S3 to take us back to civilisation.