The beauty of living where we do, is that there are so many new cities and places to explore within easy traveling distance. So with a wedding in Hamburg coming up we took the opportunity to also fit in a few days in Berlin.
Berlin is a city that I feel you can visit again and again and always discover something new. It is a vibrant, diverse and edgy city that does not hide away from its history. I loved pounding the pavements and exploring the various neighbourhoods, from the cool street art cladded walls in Kreuzberg, to the quiet residential streets in Mitte. What really set the mood for the trip was when we arrived at out hotel. We were staying at Hotel Berlin, located near the Tiergarten. A huge hotel but with many rooms sporting different individual graffiti style artwork on the wall and best of all, in each room your very own Nespresso machine. I was in heaven, no instant coffee for us :). Although I needn’t have worried as Berlin has the brunch and coffee scene sorted. In fact their entire eating and drinking culture is well established, with a whole variety of cuisines to choose from and here are just a few of my recommendations.
This cafe transported me back to Australia as soon as we stepped in the door. Poached eggs and avocado on toast just like I remember in Sydney, with some seriously good coffee to boot. In fact I was in avocado on toast heaven with three different options. Other menu favourites included oven-baked pancakes, homemade granola and banana bread, or specials like fennel & date sausages.
I loved the exposed brick and timber interior and the bike hanging on the wall is a nice touch. This is extremely English friendly, with only an English menu available, and even the staff speaking English to each other. So whether you’re looking for breakfast or just a damn good coffee and somewhere to relax or get some work done, this place has you covered.
In a quieter part of Mitte, on a beautiful residential street you will find this hidden gem of a cafe. We arrived two minutes past opening time on a Sunday and it was already filling up with locals (always a good sign). Luckily we managed to grab ourselves a place outside on the street in the sun (although there is plenty of space inside).
I continued my love affair with avocado on toast and ordered their avocado & beets on toast, with citrus whipped feta and a poached egg on the side just for good measure. My toast was pilled high with fresh avocado and beetroot which set me up well for a day of sightseeing. Roger also carried on tradition ordering their pancakes, which were a huge stack of melt in your mouth buttermilk pancakes with banana, maple berry preserve and citrus butter. One word…Yum. The couple next to us also ordered the Acai Super Food Bowl with chia seeds, cocoa nibs, goji, granola and coconut, which she seemed very happy with.
The coffee here was incredible and would rival the coffee scene in Melbourne any day. It was incredibly smooth and a beautiful flavour. It was so good that I couldn’t stop at just one cup. Just beware that double shot coffees are standard here in Berlin, and so if you’re not an accustomed coffee drinker, proceed with caution.
Hidden in a courtyard not far from Alexanderplatz is this gorgeous cafe. On our last morning we soaked up the sun on their beautiful terrace and what a way to finish our time in Berlin. They have a separate cafe and “to go” shop´, optimising their service and once again their coffee was sensational. Berlin you have outdone yourself.. well done.
Their breakfast menu staple is a range of delicious brioche burgers filled with either roasted vegetables, smoked salmon, ham or poached eggs. You also cannot go wrong with their range of poached eggs on toast options, from eggs benedict, eggs florentine or good old build your own. Guess what I built mine with :). Again I was not disappointed and it looked that good that the guy on the table next to me simply ordered “what she’s having“.
Roger broke tradition and ordered anchovies and tomatoes on toast (at least one of us can live on the edge a bit) which is not something I would normally go for, but was really tasty. Topped off by a really friendly waiter meant we left Berlin with a great lasting impression and a three out of three hit rate for coffee and breakfast.
On our first evening after driving for the best part of the day we just wanted something nice and easy for dinner and so we sought out Shiso Burger. This cool little burger joint is a fusion with asian cuisine, resulting in deliciously fresh burgers, packed full of flavour that don’t leave you feeling like you’ve stuffed yourself silly at a fast food joint.
Menu highlights include their signature Shiso burger of marinated tuna steak, shiso leaves, coriander and chilli mayo, a chilli lime burger with angus beef, cheese, lettuce, pickles, lime mayonnaise and chilli sauce and their black tiger prawn burger with a honey and ginger mustard. Vegetarians are well catered for here with a portobello mushroom or tofu and grilled eggplant burger. All burgers are served in homemade buns and you can watch the chefs at work with their open kitchen.
Try their sweet potato fries and edamame on the side, and wash it down with a refreshing lychee lemonade or beer.
After having tried Neni’s breakfast in Vienna I was keen to head here for dinner and with a spectacular location on the top floor of the 25 hour Hotel I couldn’t wait for our reservation. The entire restaurant (and the adjoining bar..the Monkey Bar) is surrounded by glass allowing for uninterrupted views of the city and in particular the Tiergarten. Their toilets also have floor to ceiling windows, providing a fantastic view into the monkey enclosure, especially (ladies) if you get the end cubicle.
Their menu is a combination of Persian, Moroccan, Spanish and Israeli influences and all dishes are designed to be shared and next time I will definitely take more people as I wanted to order their entire menu.
By a mile my favourite dish was the caramelised eggplants with ginger and chilli, served with rice. We had this with a portion of chicken, but would be perfect without as well. It was rich, full of flavour, and I was gutted when I was too full to finish it all. We also sampled their homemade beef-lamb dumplings with coriander, tahina & grilled vegetables and the slow cooked maple syrup pulled beef with homemade BBQ-sauce, and pickled chilli peppers, served with sweet potato fries.
We jumped off the underground in Neukölln and the unmistakable smell of kebab hung in the air. However nestled among the row upon row of takeaway shops is this great restaurant and bar which is anything but “industry standard”.
Their motto is they will feed you, and that they will. With high quality produce and nothing off limits, they showcase every last bit of the “beast”. Here small share plates rule the French and Mediterranean inspired menu, allowing you to sample a lot even with a small number of people.
Their menu changes regularly and we were delighted with dishes such as ricotta and spinach gnocchi, lamb with beans and a homemade “gentlemens” relish, and blood cake with radicchio and sweetcorn. Accompanied with biodynamic wines and house-made bitters and finished off with chocolate mousse and sour cream ice cream, our taste buds were taken on an exciting and enjoyable roller coaster ride.
The team are fantastic and made the whole experience from booking to dining easy, relaxed and enjoyable, and you can’t mistake their passion about what they do, and how notably knowledgeable and proud they are about their dishes and the produce they use.
We made a pit spot here to refuel in between sightseeing, and if you’re looking for a fresh and healthy lunch, you cannot go wrong. They have a great selection of sandwiches, salads, quiches, and seasonal specials. Highlights include a summer vegetable salad with cous cous, chickpea salad with olives or quinoa with green vegetables and lemon dressing. If you want something a little more indulgent, follow Rogers lead and try their warm baguette with baked cheese and side salad.
You can also balance out all of this healthiness with one of their homemade cakes (I dare you not to after seeing these in their display cabinet). Their carrot cake was amazing, but oh boy was it big and completely covered in amazing cream cheese icing. It didn’t stop me finishing it though. It was a good job we have walked miles already that morning, with a lot more ground to cover. I also have it on good authority that they can make a mean cup of coffee.
These are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of restaurants and cafes at your disposal in this incredible city, and I cannot wait to visit again to uncover more.
After Berlin we continued our German road trip and headed to our final destination… Hamburg. Full blog coming soon.