68 : Ta Panta Ri – (South) Cyprus

I was pretty sure that South Cypriot food would be similar to Greek food but as Cyprus has it’s own flag, it’s own culture, and is usually an entrant in the Eurovision Song Contest then it counts for me as a new country and cuisine. We cycled over to Ta Panta Ri on a Saturday in April via Tempelhofer Feld and Golgatha biergarten. After a good 45 minutes cycling with intermittent drinking we were quite hungry and perhaps this was why we overordered.

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We chose the Cyprus plate to share to start which included lots of litttle things, mainly in a paste or deep-fried. For main courses Richard went for Exochiko which is lamb slow cooked with mushroom and feta, and I took the Gyros Kleftiko on account of being constantly denied this when we were in Greece. We also tried some of the well priced Cypriot red wine although I was disappointed not to find Keo the national beer on the menu. Like most Greek wine I have tried, it was either too sweet or too tart with no middle ground.

When the starter plate arrived we realised why the waitress had raised her eyebrow when we ordered as it seemed large enough for four people to share. There was grilled hallumi, roasted vegetables, keftedes (meat balls), taramasalata, tsatsiki and cheese pastry parcels. Most things were in batter which made it all a bit too rich to finish and as Richard doesn’t like roasted vegetables I ended up eating the majority of the plate which filled me up too much to enjoy my main.

I was disappointed when the kleftiko arrived as I had forgotten that gyros is pork meat rather than lamb, it was okay but a bit too salty with the seasoned pork meat and sheep’s cheese combined. Richard’s dish was a bit better with pieces of slow cooked lamb that melted in your mouth but again I found the cheese detracted from the dish rather than augmenting it. As I had eaten most of the starter plate I could not eat much and Richard gladly finished mine off as well as his. We both left the restaurant well fed although Rich was happier about it than I was. Not sure I would come back again as it is so far out of the way and there was nothing outstanding about Ta Panta Ri which offers just decent, simple and comforting cooking.

There are no photos of my own for this as my memory card decided to wipe itself.

60 : Dwin (Armenia) – update now closed

Having checked the menu of Dwin online many times and feeling rather uninspired by it, we finally decided to visit Dwin as we were running out of other options and fancied something simple. The only Armenian place in Berlin, it is over in Charlottenburg/Wilmersdorf in an area we generally avoid and the menu seemed pretty boring so we had delayed visiting here.
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On a Monday evening half the tables were reserved and a few were occupied which gave us reason to be hopeful. We were greeted very well by a proud proprietor who insisted when we tried to order our starters that we must try the aubergine dip because “you will love it”. Not wanting to offend we went for this, and some tzaziki and a pinto bean dish as well as grilled lamb and chicken from the extremely one dimensional main course selection.

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We swiftly discovered that whilst the menu is simple, it is executed extremely well. The starters, especially the smokey aubergine, were all delicious and came served with these amazing small scone like things. The main courses were grilled to absolute perfection like the best BBQ you’ve ever been to. They were served with the distinctly un-armenian but super tasty dauphinoise potatoes and that’s it. No unnecessary garnish just simple perfection.

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My only gripe was that there were no Armenian wines or beer to try so we went with Rothaus. It wasn’t cheap at 15 Euros a main for not massive portions but I’m still salivating at how good that meat was grilled so maybe we will return.  I’m not sure how much of a taste of Armenian food we got but we certainly loved what we had.

Price for two course meal with drinks for two persons: 60-80 euros

Rating: 8/10

Address: Uhlandstraße 157, 10719 Berlin

Website: http://dwin.de/

Week 47 : La Tia Rica (Chile)

We visited this Chilean restaurant on the day of German unity and were lucky to get the last table reservation as it was packed. The location is in a swanky part of Charlottenburg near Ernst Reuterplatz. On the way we walked past some upmarket looking restaurants and a posh burger place with the most ridiculous name I have seen so far; ‘Who’s That Burger’. Thankfully, La Tia Rica is much more down to earth and we liked the feel of the place as soon as we walked in. We were seated in the corner and immediately noticed some familiar lit up papier mache head decorations on the wall. In a strange coincidence these are made by the same Arts Centre that we ended up at after our visit to the Filipino restaurant back in March.

pisco sour

pisco sour

light up heads

light up heads

We started our meal with a Pisco Sour as this is a traditional aperitif in Chile. It was delicious enough to make me look up how much it cost to buy Pisco online when  I got home (20 euros). Being a Chilean restaurant they had a great wine list which was reasonably priced. We took a bottle of the Carménère Reserva which was really delicious, full-bodied and a steal at 19 euros a bottle. The menu was small which gave me hope that it would be good as I never trust big menus. They also had a list of specials which included my favourite meat; rabbit, but sadly it was sold out.  We chose to share a ceviche and empanadas to start and then for main course Richard had lava stone grilled lamb chops and I had the lamb shank with pumpkin which the menu assured me was very traditional. I am not usually one to care about service as I will tolerate a lot in search of good food, but I must note how good it was here, being very personal and warm which is rare for Berlin.

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The food was really delicious. The empanadas were super tasty and came with a delicious spicy salsa that we asked for more of and the white fish ceviche was classically tasty with a lime tang and fresh crisp salad (although I did eat a better one at Sauvage in Neukolln recently). The main courses were extremely filling, the lamb chop were grilled to perfection and the shank was comfort food at its finest.

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The one thing that wouldn’t have us racing back is the prices, at an average of 16 euros for a main course it is quite expensive for Berlin but with such a warm atmosphere and such reasonably priced wine it was a really enjoyable visit especially as a treat.

Date of visit October 3rd 2015

Week 29 : Lon Men’s Noodle House (Taiwan)

We have moved house recently so unfortunately the writing of this blog has got a bit behind. This means that the details of the meals between mid May and now have become a bit sketchy. I will however do my best to fill in the gaps and use the photos I took as a reminder.

So… way back on May 16th we went to watch Hertha BSC play Frankfurt in the Olympic Stadium. The match itself was very boring but thankfully the meal that followed was much more interesting and enjoyable. As we were over that way we decided to eat at Lon Men’s in Charlottenburg, a Taiwanese restaurant with a very good reputation.

After standing in the drizzle drinking beer all afternoon we had quite a hunger on so ordered a large range of dishes from the extensive menu. Sadly, the steamed buns with duck were off the menu that day which was very disappointing as they are supposedly one of the highlights and Taiwanese steamed buns are one of our favourite things to eat.

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Instead we ordered lots of different wontons, noodle and rice dishes to share. The highlights were the chilli wontons and the spicy meat noodles which we will definitely order again when we return for the steamed buns. Everything was really good though except the seaweed which I expected to be crispy but came in floppy ribbons. We all got very full very cheaply with some very delicious food.

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Week 26 : Thai Park (Thailand)

Ok, so this is not technically a restaurant but if you want the most authentic thai food in Berlin then you cannot find anywhere better. I have been in love with the idea of Thai Park since I first heard of it; it is a park in Charlottenburg where Thai families come out into the park in Spring and Summer to share, cook and sell Thai food – how perfect for celebrating reaching the half year mark of my blog. I visited with Maija on a Saturday afternoon back in April as soon as it had restarted for the season.
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Preussenpark in Wilmersdorf/Charlottenburg is the location of this unique culinary delight. The park itself is quite attractive with lots of big horse chestnut trees but the Thai stalls make it even prettier as they are decorated with colourful umbrellas. When you first arrive it can be quite overwhelming, there is so much choice and no signs to help you chose. You need to follow your eyes and your nose and see what takes your fancy. There are woks everywhere deep frying chicken wings, pork belly, banana in batter and even whole fish. There are fresh papaya salads being prepared to varying degrees of spiciness. You can chose between spring rolls, satay sticks, steamed buns curries, sticky deserts, pad thai noodles and hosts of other things that you have no idea what they may be until you ask. The whole experience is intense and exciting.
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We were joined by a Thai friend Nawapat (Mynt for short) who was also visiting the park for the first time and acted as a guide for us. She helped Maija chose a papaya salad and a whole fried fish which looked like dorade perhaps. I chose some crispy pork belly, a papaya and pork salad and a steamed bun with…yet more pork! For herself Mynt chose what she called a stinky fish salad which was very true to its name and unforgivingly hot – she was delighted with it. Our other friend Don chose some pad thai and spring rolls. This feast was complimented by Brazilian cocktails made by a lovely bronze skinned middle aged Brazilian lady who freepoured us some strong caipirinhas. Everything was really good, especially my salad which hit all the taste sensations you expect from Thai food. The fish was also delicious, very fresh and a bargain at 8 euros. We all finished very happy and full and vowed to return week after week after week until we have tried it all!

Date of visit: April 25th.

Week 21 : Pinoy (Philippines)

This week we had a visitor staying and so I asked him where he would like to go? He answered Filipino or Cypriot. I had precisely zero knowledge about Filipino cuisine so I was excited to try it out and decided on this. I checked out the options and there seemed to be two choices; one in nearby Prenzlauerberg and the other 45 minutes away in Charlottenburg. According to a blog by Filipino diplomat’s wife the latter is the more authentic, so off on the long s-bahn journey to Pinoy we went.

Interior

Interior

We were joined by a fourth guest Maija on the s-bahn and arrived to a packed restaurant in a Charlottenburg suburb. The decor was really nice, a very modern style with lots of orchids and huge prints of paddy fields. We decided to share some dishes to try lots of things. Unfortunately Maija was poorly served by the vegetarian choices but we were overwhelmed by meat and fish options. We chose some crispy pork, some spicy pork (chosen by Rich as it’s title included the words baby and bang), some kind of beef dish and what was described by the waitress as a ‘mummy butter fish’ which came out whole and deep fried so you could eat the crunchy bones which was something new for me. Maija ordered a tofu soup and a papaya salad.

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The food was pretty good, nothing amazing but everything was solidly tasty. It wasn’t as fresh or spicy as good Indonesian or Thai food can be. The service was awful because the poor waitress was alone, so we waited a long time to get any rice to go with our food and it was impossible to get her attention. In all, it was a nice experience but we wont be making the long journey to Charlottenburg to go there again. Although we might be seeking out the bizarre arts centre along the road which had an audience of humanities teachers all dancing and singing (surprisingly well) to a musician from Burkina Faso. We were lured in by the giant luminous head outside.

worshiping the giant head

worshiping the giant head

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(date of visit 14 March)