80 : Germany – Part One – Brandenburg – Gustav & Gold

Apologies that these are embarassingly late. I have no excuses…

As part of the final Germanastravaganza I wanted to find restaurants in Berlin that represented the many regional faces of German cuisine. More than most other cultures, Germany suffers from a culinary misnomer of blandness and uniformity and I wanted to show that this was not fully the case.

My first opportunity to try some more modern and fresh German food was courtesy of Travelzoo who offered an excellent value dining voucher for a Berlin restaurant which took local, regional food from Brandenburg and gave it high end presentation. Gustav & Gold is a fairly new restaurant situated between Mitte and Kreuzberg which offers a small menu of delicious local food, cooked well and beautifully presented, which should be pleasing to vegetarians and meat eaters. The decor was quite classy but didn’t seem very modern or ‘Berlin’ and had a bit of a 90s elegance feel which I believe was unintended and would perhaps appeal more to their other customers who all seemed to be middle aged, middle class suburban Berliners on a rare special night out.

Our offer meant that we got to try a starter, main and dessert each for an incredible price of 55 euros including wine, a welcome cocktail and a soup. For starters Richard chose the young Mecklenburg bull tatare and I had the fried duck liver both were very delicious. This was followed by a tasty beetroot soup which was very rich, especially as I ate two portions because Richard was not a fan.

Afterwards we chose lamb rack with swede and herb crust and the whole sea bass. The lamb was pink and well cooked however the pepper in the swede was a bit dominating. Richard’s bass was really well cooked and tasty, but having a whole fish served up seemed a bit out of place with the more precise and elegant plating of the other dishes.

For dessert Richard chose the chocolate dirt cake and I had the lime mousse. They were good but not memorable as I cannot remember much about either, writing this three months later! The same goes for the wines which were okay but could have been more interesting.

I would recommend seeking out a voucher for Gustav and Gold as they seem to feature regularly on travelzoo and Groupon. The food was very tasty and for what we paid it was awesome. If I were paying full price I think I could find better places to spend my money. The concept of local Brandenburg food in Berlin is good however I think that perhaps we are not the demographic they are aiming to attract and it would be a great night out for someone whose food tastes were developed 20 years ago when a decent rack of lamb and a seabass would impress.

Price for two course meal with drinks for two persons: 70-100 euros

Rating: 7/10

Address: Stresemannstraße 48-52, 10963 Berlin

Website: https://www.gustavundgold.de/

80 – Germany – Part 3 – Black Forest – Schwarzwaldstuben

Schwartzwaldstuben is an authentic restaurant representing the Black Forest region of Germany with its Schwabische-Badischer cuisine. The restaurant is situated near Rosenthaler Platz in Mitte and is extremely popular and busy as it offers slow food in a homely and cosy environment.

The beer on tap is the extremely tasty Rothaus Tannenzäpfle Pilsner from the Schwarzwald which is famous for its happy, smiling lady on the logo. They also offer a great selection of wines by the glass as this area borders on the Rheinland which is famous for its white wines.

For food we chose to share the regional platter which featured Black Forest ham, Tête-de-Moine caramelized goat’s cheese, chutney, herb butter, lentil salad with suckling pig and smoked trout.  For a main Richard ordered “Badisches Schäufele mit Sauerkraut und Bratkartoffeln” which was a huge-old, smoked pig knuckle with roast potatoes and I had the venison maultaschen (filled dumplings) from the specials board with salad. We washed everything down with several Rothaus vom Fass.

The food was fresh and tasty and we enjoyed it, however it was pretty standard German fare and offered no suprises. I was jealous of Richard’s food as my maultaschen were quite small and not very filling. Other people were eating Flammkuchen which looked good and maybe we would try these if we went back again. I would recommend this to people as a good standard of German regional food with nice surroundings however we won’t be making a special detour to return.

Price for two course meal with drinks for two persons: 50-70 euros

Rating: 7/10

Address: Tucholskystraße 48, 10117 Berlin

Website: www.schwarzwaldstuben-berlin.com/

80 : Germany – Part Two – Bayern – Gasthaus Valentin

(Again ridiculously late – we visited here in the snow, it is now nearly the end of July)

Gasthaus Valentin which is a Bayerisch (Bavarian) restaurant on Hasenheide in Kreuzberg has a special place in our hearts as it was our neighbour when we first moved to Berlin and sublet a great place at 90 Hasenheide. Valentin offers a small, changing selection of dishes from the Bayern (Bavarian) region in a small intimate candelit setting with fresh Ausgustiner Helles and a few guest beers on tap. It is a restaurant for all seaons; in winter it is warm and cosy and in summer it offers an attractive beer garden and refreshing Bavarian beers.

On a super cold and snowy February evening we headed over to Valentin for some warming food to represent Bavaria in the blog. As it was a Sunday the menu was a bit limited but we chose some Nuremberger Würste (sausages from Nuremberg) with potato salad, then roast pork and venison stew which were served with with both potato and bread knödel (dumplings). As usual the food here was hearty, tasty and filling like all good Bavarian food should be.

Berlin has lots of great options for Bavarian food from large beer halls to small neighbourhood Gasthäuser to chose from and Valentin may not be the very best of these, but it is a great option for the North Kreuzberg area and one of our favourites.

79 : Oma Marnie’s Pies (New Zealand)

For some unknown reason the closer I get to achieving my goal of 80 cuisines, the slower I have become at visiting places and writing them up. My visit to Oma Marnie’s New Zealand pie stall was way back in November and therefore some details are a bit sketchy but the memories are warm.

 

Oma Marnie’s authentic New Zealand pie stall is based in Kreuzberg’s foodie heaven Markthalle Neun. This is a huge food hall which has permanent stalls that you can visit daily as well as a weekly streetfood market on Thursday evenings, as well as other food events such as cheese tastings and a monthly Sunday breakfast market. Oma Marnie is a permanent stall that you can visit most days and offers a delicious range of New Zealand pies. According to their facebook there is also a shop in Prenzlauerberg which is good news for North Berliners.

As a Brit the concept of a New Zealand or Aussie pie was foreign to me before moving to Berlin however I soon discovered that our Antiopedean cousins are as much fans of the filled savory pie as the British as all the pie shops in Berlin are Aussie or New Zealand owned such as Oma Marnie and Hello Good Pie. Thankfully they’ve not gone crazy with the format and have kept the essentials of a good British pie and the offerings I have seen are familiar and as yummy and comforting as a good pie should be.

This was the first visit for the blog in which I have got takeaway as it was a lunchtime and Richard was working at home so I bought the pies after German class and swiftly cycled home with them in my rucksack to keep them warm. I chose one each of salmon, braised beef, and egg & bacon for us to share, plus a New Zealand beer and a sausage roll to eat on the train for our journey to Prague the next morning. Each pie was delicious, with good pastry and generous well seasoned fillings. Three between two was more than enough and at 4 euros per pie (compared to my usual 3 euro falafel lunches), we won’t be making this a usual weekday lunch option instead visiting as a treat.

Writing this deep in the middle of winter is making me drool at the concept of returning for a lovely, warm, savoury pie but unfortunately I would have to leave the house in orderr to get them… hmmmn…

 

75 : Kirsons (Latvia) 

A friend told me that her work colleague had recently told her about a Latvian restaurant called Kirsons opening in Berlin and they recommended it as somewhere authentic. We visited on a week night at 7pm, cycling over to the other side of Kreuzberg near Mitte where all the office buildings are located. We arrived at a strange canteen style place with a large seating area with twee, country-style furniture and a hot food area where you took a tray and selected from salads, hot meals, and desserts. Everything was overseen by friendly, middle-aged, women wearing what I imagine is traditional latvian dress – so far, so weird.

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I chose the salmon with dill sauce and potatoes and Richard had pork ribs, we also shared a cucumber dill salad and a pastry parcel with cheese and ham. The food was better than expected considering that it looked like it had sat there for quite a while but you would hardly rave about it. We were suprised when paying the bill as everything was half price so we ended up paying 13 euros for all the food plus two beers, a water and we were also given a free dessert. It turns out that we had arrived during the last hour before closing which is happy hour.

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Despite the cheapness we won’t be revisiting this place as I don’t see the point in mediocre reheated food no matter how cheap. I felt as though we didn’t get much of a real picture of Latvian food from Kirsons despite the recommendation from a real Latvian. A strange one indeed…

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74 : Dottir (Iceland)

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We planned this visit to coincide with our 4th wedding anniversary on 3rd June as the Icelandic restaurant Dottir is a one of a kind, expensive dining experience.

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On this balmy early summer evening we arrived at 9pm to a fully booked out restaurant over in Mitte near the Brandenburg gate. As we waited at the bar for our table we sipped yummy, well crafted cocktails; Richard had something with champagne and I had a gin and cucumber concoction. Both were delicious. The decor of the restaurant was very cool with simple design, stripped bare plaster walls, large pieces of feature lighting and huge, interesting artworks.

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The restaurant serves a single set menu mixing Icelandic and Scandinavian ingredients and flavours at a set price with no deviation other than to accomodate allergies. This week’s menu was exactly to our taste with a starter of scallops, then roe deer fillet,  monkfish, and white chocolate and berries for dessert. We chose a good value Riesling to go with our food from the cheaper end of the menu which rose to the kind amount that we would spend on a new fridge freezer or a week’s holiday.

IMG_2999 The food was very much worth the high price because every mouthful was intricate and delicious and the ingredients worked really well together and the presentation was beautiful. The roe deer and the monkfish dishes were our particular highlights. The wine we chose was also very good and went well with everything. By the end of the meal we were quite satisfied and a bit drunk (hence the wonky shots and general lack of photos). I would certainly recommend Dottir as a great choice for a special occassion or if you have the money to spare but you might want to check the menu before you reserve in case it is not to your taste.

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71 : Bantou Village (Cameroon)

Firstly apologies for the delay in posting the updates. I have been busy lately with German classes and haven’t been able to dedicate as much time to the blog as before. This visit took place on a hot weekend back in May.

Another Saturday, another trip to an African restaurant in Wedding. It seems as though there are quite a few African restaurants here due to the concentration of streets in the Afrikanische Viertel (African quarter) and this time we were on Kamerounerstrasse visiting Bantou Village for some Cameroonian cuisine. After an afternoon cycle across town to Plotzensee where we discovered a beautiful boat bar playing house and techno, we cycled across to Wedding for dinner and to discover some of its hidden places.

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Bantou Village was the busiest African restaurant we have visited in Berlin and was packed out with many West Africans, Germans and other international diners. We took the last table on the street and hungrily ordered from what is a now familiar West African food selection including grilled fish, rice dishes, peanut stews, plantains and skewered meat.

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We chose a dish of slow baked lamb with spicy sauce, beef in peanut sauce, fried plantains, and like every other West African restaurant we have visited; the stick meat. Another staple was the African Guiness which we prefer to its Irish counterpart.

The service was super friendly and the place had a good general atmosphere. When the food came we were very impressed. Everything was well cooked and delicious especially the lamb which melted in the mouth. The stick meat was good but not as good as the Ghanaian version. The plantains on the side were sweet and sticky and salty and worked well with the main dishes.

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Afterwards we checked out a couple of bars including the craft beer staple Vagabund and Panke which is a bar cum club with a great garden next to the river of the same name. The quality of the restaurant and good bars make the 40 minute cycle across town to wedding much more appealing. Although we do love our neukölln bubble a bit too much!