Berlin is huge. The largest city in Germany, the metropolis is home to about 3.7 million inhabitants who hail from around 190 different countries. As such, Berlin boasts a huge variety of restaurants, cafes, take-aways and drinking establishments: one can spend the evening with a few beers in an edgy bar in Kreuzberg, rubbing shoulders with punks and metal-heads, have dinner in a Michelin starred restaurant and end the evening drinking sweet tea and smoking a Hookah pipe watching the night fade away and dawn break.
The chances are that if you are on holiday in Berlin, you will want to try the regional specialities. Like elsewhere in Germany, the majority of menus are dominated by park in various guises. However, Berlin is quite progressive and so decent vegetarian dishes are far more prevalent than in say Bavaria. The following spots regularly feature on our visits to Big-B. The proof of the pudding is that the locals eat and drink here as well:
I found this place by accident a few years back: I was in the beautiful Nikolaiviertel – Berlin´s oldest quarter and the place I had planned on eating in was winding down for the night. I was really quite hungry and so I was intently scanning about for somewhere which was open later. When I saw this place, I did not fancy my chances as the tables and chairs outside were full, on what was a warm summer evening. I ventured inside on the chance there would be a spot for my missus and myself. No problem at all, lots of space.
The first thing that makes this spot a bit special is that they have a brewery on site. The beer is a tasty, easy drinking Helles. Unlike its Bavarian cousin, this Helles is cloudy. Don´t be put off – the pipes are clean, it is just brewed this way. In a city where Pils is the dominant style, it is quite nice to try something different. The second thing which makes this brewhouse a winner is their permanent special deal: A whole Eisbein (boiled pork knuckle) with pease pudding, sauerkraut and spuds. This is washed down with a small beer and a glass of Korn. Yours for €12.20 – a very good deal indeed.
The menu offers other porky goodness, as well as fish and vegetarian options.
The night I found Georgebraeu, I was actually hoping to eat in Zum Nußbaum. This lovely little pub has an interesting history: it was originally located nearby in the the old fishing port known as the Fischerinsel. The name refers to a nut tree which used to stand outside. There is some dispute over when it was founded – an inscription over the cellar could read 1505 or in 1705. The pub was destroyed in an during the Allied bomber offensive known as the Battle of Berlin in 1943, along with most of the surrounding area. In 1987 the DDR authorities decided to try and improve tourism and so recreated the pub in its current location, next to the medieval St Nicholas Church.
The menu has some really typical Berlin standards: as well as pork knuckles, expect to see liver, pickled herrings, boiled beef with horse radish, sausages and local meatballs: “Konigsberger Klopse” which come in a caper sauce. They also offer seasonal specialities – their asparagus, wild boar and venison dishes are worth a look: check out the “Sonderkarte”.
They have a decent beer selection – 18 – although a few of these are certainly not local: Guinness and Killkenny are however popular with a population whose typical beers are lighter, easy drinking lagers. There are two beers which I really recommend you try in this place: Köstritzer Schwarzbier (A dark lager, with plain chocolate notes) and Flensburger Pils (When I lived in Berlin I received a crate of this at 6.30 am on my birthday – and had to show my appreciation by drinking a bottle there and then. To this day, when in Berlin, my morning ritual will often involve a little bottle of the stuff. It is quite a bitter taste and the bitterness is as good as any cup of black coffee.)