|Berlin's Cafe Anna Blume: a lovely spot to while away the morning|
I wasn't sure what to expect from eating in Berlin for two weeks while working at the Berlin Film Festival. While I heard that Berlin had excellent restaurants, I also remembered my last trip as an economizing backpacker when I nearly overdosed on a steady diet of wurst and doner kebab. It turns out that just like L.A., in Berlin it's easy to find mediocre food on every subway platform but it also doesn't take much effort to find really good food.
Plus, there's the effect of European bloodlines or ancient soil or whatever: the yogurt, quark, butter, meats, vegetables and bread often seem to have a deeper, earthier, more authentic flavor than what we're used to.
First, the bad news: Due to a combination of working too much and a sometimes-uncertain stomach, I never got to try Berlin's number one specialty, the currywurst. But the good news is that Berlin Currywurst fortuitously sprang up in Silver Lake while I was gone, conveniently located next to Pazzo Gelato, so I can try it if I ever recover from jet lag.
|simple, satisfying fried chicken at Henne|
|non-ironic antlers on Henne's venerable walls|
Gugelhof is a traditional Variety staff dinner spot in the charming hipster Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood. Like Henne, it's many decades old with walls with a homey patina of age, a relaxed feel and menu in English. While they specialize in Alsatian dishes like choucroute and tarte flambee, I had a huge salad with prunes and hearty slabs of cheese and trout that tasted much closer to freshly-caught than any available in L.A.
|Venison stew at Schneeweiss|
Cafe AnnaBlume is just down the street from Gugelhof in Prenzlauerberg, and was probably my favorite stop in Berlin. The art nouveau cafe is adjacent to a flower shop and specializes in the "breakfast etagere" -- a three-tiered tower of fruits, pastries, meats, smoked fish, cheese and eggs, and there's also crepes, cakes, pies, egg dishes and coffee drinks on the extensive menu.
My organic coffee came with buttery biscuits, my scrambled eggs with bits of ham and onion and a huge slab of butter for the delicious brown bread. With babies sleeping in their prams and a stylish local clientele, this is a wonderful place to pass a chilly morning.
|Currywurst of lobster|
|pike perch, bok choy|
Berlin is a wonderful place to eat, both high and low, old and new, but even more than the sophisticated restaurants, I was most impressed with the variety of small bars and cafes to suit every taste, whether a gothy place with pool tables and punk music, a tiny microbrewery more like a living room with beer drinkers all gathered for Wii bowling, or a tiny, dusty cafe looking more like an antique liquor store than a place for tea.
Going to Berlin? Here's a few places to research the food scene.
Good Food in Berlin is an English language blog with an active Facebook page.
Berlin on a Platter is a blog from the author of The Wednesday Chef with both restaurant and shopping advice.
Berlin Unlike is a city guide in English with an alternative slant.
NPR Berlin Blog often has useful food-related content like this guide to microbreweries in Berlin.