Lunching and Brunching in Berlin

 

Berlin has a wealth of wonderful brunch and lunch spots so my list is not exhaustive, but instead some of the places I (or my sources) visited and recommend. I travelled with my husband and two daughters (13 and 10) recently and we all enjoyed the offerings at each establishment. Have a read and if you visit any I would love to hear what you think or perhaps you have some that you would add to the list.

Cafe Krone: Oderberger Str 38

Mon-Fri: 9-4pm Sat-Sun: 9.30-6.30pm(Sun) and 7pm (Sat)

There is always a crowd waiting to eat at this buzzy hip eatery in Prenzlauer Berg, although the wait is never very long. It’s near to the Mauerpark flee market, as well as the smaller and more refined flee market, ‘Flohmarkt Arkonaplatz’, both of which operate on Sundays. Cafe Krone offers a range of delicious hot drinks and brunch options including: ‘shakshuka’, ‘eggs benedict’, ‘eggs cooked anyway’, ‘pancakes’, ‘croissants’ – basically something to appeal to every palate. A great place to relax and enjoy the Berlin buzz and plan your adventures for the day ahead.

Jabe  Alte Schönhauser Str. 7-8, Mitte

Mon-Fri: 11.30-4pm, Sat: 12-11.30pm, Sun: 1-9.30pm

If you fancy a Japanese fix then head to Jabe for some seriously tasty Japanese fare. There are a number of starters – or what they call ‘titbits’ to share, such as ‘tebasaki’, ‘grilled tako’, ‘tomorokoshi’, ‘and ‘gyoza’ and then mains including a wide range of ‘udon bowls’, for example: ‘teriyaki don bowl’, ‘salmon truffle bowl’ and ‘kitzune bowl’, as well as a four different types of ‘salmon sashimi’. The place has good zen – as you would expect from a Japanese eatery and is a good pitstop for lunch (or dinner).

 

Mischke Fleischerei Schönhauser Allee 144

Mon-Fri 8-6.30pm, closed wkends

This butchers shop is a great place to have lunch if you want something quick and typically German. There is a wide range  meats with sides and sauces at reasonable prices. You can order anything from soups to schnitzel, although we opted for the traditional German sausage, which they heat up for you. You can sit outside or perch at high stools at little tables. It’s authentic and tasty so definitely worth a look in when you are in Berlin.

photo credit @cecconisberlin

Cecconi  Torstrasse 1, 10119

Monday – Friday: 11.30am – midnight
Saturday: 11am – midnight
Sunday: 11am – 11pm

Nestled on the ground floor of private members club, Soho House Berlin, Cecconi’s offers the public weekend brunch options, as well as all week lunch and dinner. It’s focus is Italian food – with tasty homemade pasta and seafood dishes to tempt diners. It’s sophisticated cool vibes create the perfect setting to pass a couple of hours eating and drinking and generally just soaking up the Berlin atmosphere.

Monsieur Vuong Alte Schönhauser Str. 46

Mon-Thurs: 12am-11pm

Fri-Sun: 12am-12pm

Did you know that the Vietnamese community make up 1.16% of all Berliners? As such there are a host of delicious Vietnamese restaurants spread across the city, which is good news for Berliners and tourists alike. I adore Vietnamese food so it was only natural that I would find myself gravitating to this cuisine on more than one occasion on my recent visit to Berlin.

Monsieur Vuong lies in the heart of the Mitte district (not far from Jabe in fact). The restaurant stands out with its red and yellow awning and its red leather benches outside. Inside the walls are painted orange and pink and there is always a buzz that attracts a hip crowd. The menu is short – as all good menus should be – with changing specials every two days. The food was fresh, light and zingy with delicious cocktails on offer too.  Definitely worth a visit when you are in Berlin.

 

Photo credit @vaguesouvenir

Cafe Einstein Stammhaus  Kurfürstenstr. 58, 10785

Mon-Sun: 8am-midnight

If you are seeking old school Viennese glamour and charm, then make a bee line to Cafe Einstein Stammhaus in the Tiergarten neighbourhood – it’s the perfect place for bunch whilst reading a newspaper on wooden rolls. It is housed in an Italian neoclassical villa in one of Europe’s great old coffeehouses. It’s waiters are dressed in black and white suits, and marble-topped tables with leather banquettes make the Viennese-inspired cafe feel like a relic of pre-war Berlin. It’s great for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner and is the perfect place to get your apfel strudel fix.

Film aficionados will recognise the place as the tense cafe scene in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

 

W-Der Imbiss Kastanienallee 49, 10119

Sun – Thu: 12pm – 10pm
Fri – Sat: 12pm – 11pm

It was the amusing use of the logo (you’ll see what I mean when you look at the photo below) that initially caught our attention to this Vegetarian Indo-Mexi-Cali-Ital fusion restaurant. Quite a mix hey! We were drawn to the thali – which is the Indian version of Spanish tapas – lots of small dishes so you can try a wide range of things.  It was always busy when we passed by, so made a mental note to visit it before we left. It’s self service, albeit you give your order at the counter and in turn are given a number. When it’s called out they bring it to your table. It’s small and intimate inside with more tables outside for diners to spill out to. It’s fun, well priced and nice to have some Indian spice in another European city for a change.

 

Do you have any favourite brunch or lunch spots that you gravitate to when you are in Berlin? I would love to know so do share in the comments section below.

 

 

 


Homemade Naan Bread, The Black Forest and The Knights Templar

img_4575-2

Soft pillowy naan bread dunked into a bowl of dal has got to be THE ultimate comfort food. As those who have been reading my blog for sometime will know, whenever I return from holiday the first thing I cook is some dal. It’s quick, easy and you can determine the amount of fresh chilli that you put in it. There are so many dals you can make, but I often opt for  – red split lentil dal. You can add whatever vegetable you have to hand – tomatoes, peas, carrots – but I would advise not adding more than 2 max.img_4536-3

I had spent a week in the glorious Black Forest in the south west corner of Germany. Wifi is hit and miss – hence the lack of a blog post last week, apologies – so it allows you to unwind properly and relax in this beautiful part of the country. img_4524-3

 

The top of the hills were covered in snow, but down in the valleys the pastures were green, which gave us the option of walks in the meadows and through the forests or skiing at higher altitudes.

img_4525-3

We were blessed with clear blue skies and warming winter sun. A stunning combination.

img_4541-3

Whilst our days were spent out and about in the fresh air, our evenings were spent sitting by the roaring fires eating the local produce of venison, wild boar, cheese, breads, wine, an interesting salad leaf that can only be found in the Black Forest around February (name escapes me, but it was a cross between rocket and watercress) and Black Forest gateaux – naturally.

img_4540-3

 

We drove from London, staying over for a couple of nights in Strasbourg on the way, admiring it’s impressive cathedral and quaint streets. In many ways in reminded me of Bruges or nearby Colmar – definitely worth a detour if you haven’t been.

img_4367-3

 

Strasbourg is easy to explore on foot and has a number of museums and art galleries in close proximity. A boat trip on the waterways is also a must and helps you get your bearings.

img_4362-3

 

 

To break up our homeward journey we stayed in Laon, in the region of Picardy. If medieval history is of interest to you then this place is an absolute must. We stayed in one of the old canon’s houses (there were  84 canons at one time living in Laon – it was the largest chapter in France in the 12th and 13th centuries) up in the attic with a view of the cathedral. Our airbnb host was a charming and well travelled French man who was keen to show us his eleventh century frescos and ruins in his cellar. The cellar stretched under the whole of his house and when we had seen what we thought was the extent of it, he revealed another doorway with steps leading further down to another level. We proceeded to explore this level and then found further steps leading to another level. It was a cavern within a cavern within a cavern.  It was without doubt the most incredibly historical cellar we have ever been in and an archaeologist/historians dream. Over the ages new floors were simply added – we could make out the old stables on one level. Apparently there are many passageways linking up the canon’s houses surrounding the cathedral. I imagine many of them are filled in or perhaps not yet discovered by their occupants living many metres above.

img_4542-3

The Knights Templar spent much time both in Laon and the surrounding area. They built this magnificent church (above) modelled on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem in 1140. Unfortunately we only managed to spend a few minutes here before we were ushered out as it was closing time, so the museum that stands beside it will have to wait for a future visit.

img_4546-3

The Cathedral itself is worth a visit and in fact it was what initially drew us to this hill top city a couple of years ago, as we could see it’s towers from miles away. Laon is only 80 miles north east of Paris and only a couple of hours from Calais so  it’s a good place to stopover before catching the Euro tunnel home.

img_4564

Anyway enough of my travels and back to the matter at hand….naan bread. Believe it or not they are really easy to cook yourself. Making the dough is pretty straight forward and then you need to let it rest, in a warm part of your house, for 1-2 hours to let it increase in size.

img_4568-2

Then it is simply a case of rolling out the naan into small, thin, oval shapes. You can add nigella (black onion seeds) or sesame seeds on the top or keep them plain. Sometimes I like to add a couple of teaspoons of garlic paste to make garlic naan. You can be as inventive as you like in all honesty.

img_4569-2

I tend to cook mine in a frying pan – do not add any oil – but you can also cook them under the grill if you prefer, but be watchful as they bronze quickly.

img_4570-2

It takes no more than a minute or so to cook them and then I add some melted butter on top. Equally if you prefer you can add some melted ghee or even milk.

img_4573-2

My girls (and husband) love them both with a meal or an after school snack. Serve them warm and eat straight away. A wonderful treat and perfect for chilly February weather.

 

Homemade Naan Bread

makes around 9-10 naan bread

400g plain flour

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

5g dried yeast

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 egg beaten

100g full fat plain yoghurt

100ml warm full fat milk

1 tbsp butter, melted

 optional: nigella/sesame seeds/fresh coriander as a topping

If you want to make garlic naan add a couple of tsp of garlic paste at the beginning and mix into the dough.

  1. In a large mixing bowl add the flour and then make a hole in the centre and pour in the oil, dried yeast, salt, sugar, baking powder and beaten egg.
  2. Mix gently using your hands and once it has become quite crumbly add the yoghurt and then continue to mix together.
  3. Now gradually add in the warm milk until all the mixture comes together.
  4. Remove from the bowl and place a little plain flour on a cold surface.
  5. Kneed the dough for 5 minutes until it become soft and pliable.
  6. Return to the bowl and cover with cling film and leave in a warm room for over an hour so that it can increase in size.
  7. When it is ready, split the dough into even balls and begin to roll them out thinly in oval shapes.  You may need a sprinkling of extra flour at this stage to prevent it from sticking to the surface. Pierce gently with a fork. If adding nigella/sesame seeds lay a few on the top and gently roll them into the top of the naan.
  8. Heat a non-stick frying pan. When it is properly hot add a naan bread and leave for around 20 seconds before turning over and leaving for a further 20 seconds. Turn once more for a few more seconds – or longer if it is not bronzing sufficiently.
  9. Remove from the pan and add a little melted butter to the top. Keep under a warm tea towel whilst you work on the remaining naan. As the naan’s I make are quite small I can often manage two in a pan at a time.

img_4572-2

 


Mountain Air and Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs

Mr B and I have just returned from one of those magical long weekends when you literally have to pinch yourself that what you are experiencing and seeing is actually real. We were attending a friend’s wedding in South Tyrol in Northern Italy, but due to logistics we decided to fly into Munich, a city we hold dear and one that we visited last December. Driving through Germany, Austria and into northern Italy may sound like a bit of an epic journey but the truth of the matter is that it only takes 3.5 hours and we thought a scenic drive through the  Brenner pass would be rather pleasant.

Our destination was the stunning eco spa hotel, Vigilius mountain resort, which was lovingly designed by architect Matteo Thun. The hotel blends into the natural environment seemlessly due to the use of materials from renewable resources. All the water used in hotel – from the pool, shower, baths and drinking comes from the Vigiljoch spring water.  To reach the hotel you need to take a cable car for about 15 minutes and upon arrival you really do feel a world away from the stresses and interruptions of day to day living. There is no Wifi or TV in the hotel, which allows you to really switch off and enjoy the natural environment that you find yourself in.

The wedding itself allowed us to explore the mountain side, not least because we had to take a single chairlift a further 15 minutes higher up the mountain and then a 15 minute walk to the church. It was one of those experiences that we will remember and cherish forever, not least because of the surreal nature of taking a chairlift dressed in wedding attire.

The smell of the pine forests and the wood burning in the chimneys conjured up happy memories of times in the mountains when the snow was thick and heavy. It was refreshing though seeing the mountains covered with grass and wild flowers and the cows with bells around their necks.

During the church service itself, the cow bells could be heard just outside the church entrance, to the extent we would not have been surprised had they ambled in to take a look at what was going on.

On Sunday, after all the wedding festivities were drawing to a close, Mr B and I returned to the top of the mountain and had a good amble around the wooded paths that are carved into the mountain. We came across characterful chocolate box houses similar to the ones that we all draw as children. I loved the green shutters and the window boxes filled with bright red flowers matching perfectly with the red gingham curtains.

We returned, one last time, to the church where we had spent some precious moments the previous day.

It was hard to drag ourselves away from such a picturesque spot, with beautiful blue skies and wonderful green mountains.

Returning to London I was convinced that the good weather must surely have arrived to our shores – I was clearly delusional after all that mountain sun and fresh air – as the rain persists and people’s moods continue to fray.

As activities with Big A and Little Z are housebound with the continuous downfall, we decided to make some Chinese marbled tea eggs. In China, the eggs are a common snack that are adored by school children and adults alike. The marbled effect, that is created through gently cracking of the hard boiled eggs, is attractive and unique, in that no two eggs will look the same. The girls love to see the different effects that are created each time we finally break open the shells.

I have loved hard boiled eggs for as long as I can remember, to the extent that no picnic is complete without them. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, Chinese marbled tea eggs also taste really delicious with the subtle flavours of tea, soy and aniseed gently resonating from the egg. So why not try making these next time you plan on having a picnic when the sun shines or, for that matter, when it rains and you decide to have it inside instead.

Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs

Sourced from Balance and Harmony Asian Food by Neil Perry – p193

6 free range or organic eggs

3 tbs Jasmine tea leaves (or black tea leaves)

2 cinnamon bark sticks

3 star anise

half tsp sea salt

100 ml dark soy sauce

1. Place the eggs in a pan of cold water so that they are completely covered and gently bring the water to the boil. Simmer gently for 6 minutes.

2. Gently transfer the eggs to a bowl full of ice and then cover with cold water. Place the pan of boiled water to one side as you will use this later.

3. Once they are cooled tap the eggs gently so that the shell cracks but does not break off. You want to have the effect of lots of small cracks.

4. Place the eggs in the pan of boiled water and add the tea, cinnamon bark, star anise, salt and soy sauce.

5. Simmer for a further hour and then remove from the heat and leave to cool completely. The longer you leave them the more flavour is drawn into the eggs and the more marbled the eggs become. Those above were left in the fridge overnight.

6. To serve remove the eggs from the stock and carefully remove the shell to reveal the unique marbled effect.