Of the five countries of the British Isles, Berlin had one English restaurant (closed recently), one Scottish pub and several Irish pubs that also ‘do’ food. Das Gift in Neukolln, the Scottish pub is by far the most interesting of these as they seem to take their food more seriously and of course it is famously owned by Mogwai and Arab Strap member Barry Burns. The pub itself which sits of the corner of Donaustrasse and Weichselstrasse is a mix of British pub and German Eckkneipe, and luckily for us it is about a ten minute walk from home. The interior is cool but very welcoming and not quite as basic and cold as some of the other hipster bars in Neukolln which can sometimes seem uniformly unfriendly.
A promotion caught my eye as I entered the bar; Jack Hammer IPA from Brewdog for 3 euros a bottle. Das Gift stocks a lot of beers from the Scottish punk brewers for normally no less than 5 euros (cheaper beer is available) so this was an absolute bargain for what turned out to be a delicious, crisp, classic IPA. We asked about the offer and it turns out that the beer was a month or so out of date although you really couldn’t tell at all. Richard also tried one of their large selection of whisky with a smokey single malt which he really enjoyed.
Das Gift’s food menu is much smaller than its drink menu with a focus on decent Scottish ingredients. We chose to share the haggis with swede, potato and carrots, a smoked fish platter, and a small plate of black pudding. Never having tried haggis before we were excited and also a little concerned. When the food arrived our concerns disappeared, the haggis was really delicious, with peppery warmth and a nice texture which went well with the mashed swede, carrot and potato. The fish platter was also very good with quality fresh smoked fish served with edible petals, beetroot and horseradish accompanied by perfect soda bread. The black pudding was so good that even Richard ate it which is a rarity.
I really liked our visit to Das Gift as it manages to be effortlessly cool with a focus on quality produce and without an ounce of pretension. Next time Richard wants to try the bizarre sounding ‘haggis nachos’ and I will quite happily eat their haggis again, especially later in the year when warm, comfort food in a cosy pub is a must.