This is dedicated to you – the true life and blood of Berlin Food Stories. The people that read my blog and follow me on social media and provide me with the vital assurance that my work matters. Today I’m reaching out with a call for support to guarantee the continued existence and development of the BFS project.
“Today I’m reaching out with a call for support to guarantee the continued existence and development of the BFS project.”
Berlin Food Stories started as a hobby in 2012 and became a full time experiment in 2016. The clear objective of the project has from day been to offer the very best, most knowledgeable and independent source on where to eat in Berlin. No politics, no compromises and no blogger bullshit. This has worked out fairly well, and despite the occasional, inevitable compromise and the fact that a lot of work remains, we together have positioned BFS as one of or even the best place to read about restaurants. Yes, together – me by writing and you by reading, spreading the word and feeding me with tips.
“No politics, no compromises and no blogger bullshit.”
However, like everything, BFS needs to grow up and this first and foremost applies to financial feasibility. The point of BFS was never to get rich, but the last year has shown that profitability is way too dependent on collaborations with brands that interfere with the main objective of the site. I was faced by the choice to either go full-on “Instagram Influencer” (whatever that means) or to figure out how I can can make this whole thing work by focusing on the essential: great f-n food (of course). I’ve come to the conclusion that the truth, as so often, lies somewhere in between. And that I could use your help.
There are a lot of misconceptions about Berlin Food Stories, both when it comes to who’s behind it or how the whole project functions. Allow me therefore to first clarify a few things.
BFS FACTS PACK:
I’m the only full-time person behind Berlin Food Stories. Besides me, there is the extraordinary Kate who takes some operational workload of my back and generally acts as my second brain. Sonni helps me with photo and video shoots as well as web photo post-production. And then there are a couple of great characters that run food tours in my name (like the amazing Liv).
All BFS content is produced by myself, be it photography, videography or written texts. The same applies to my Instagram.
The Berlin food recommendations on BFS are as independent as it gets. Restaurants can not influence their visibility on the site or the social media platforms, they can’t buy listings, ads, blog articles or Instagram posts.. I have a policy of not accepting invitations from restaurants that I haven’t visited before, of paying for my meals as well as visiting restaurants anonymously by booking in false names and I don’t go to opening parties or restaurant blogger events. Sometimes circumstances lead to exceptions to these policies, but they are rare and in those cases I try to be transparent about it. The only way restaurants can pay me is by buying ads for open job positions
The process behind picture and text content on Berlin Food Stories is as follows: First I hear or read about a restaurant. Then I put it on a list and a map. After that I will visit the restaurant when I get the chance. When I do visit and find the experience interesting, I’ll post something on Instagram. If it’s exceptionally interesting, I’ll return for a second meal. And if I then really love it, I’ll contact the restaurant for an interview and a photo shoot and then I’ll write an article on BerlinFoodStories.com.
Earlier this year I decided to pause the “Berlin Food Digest” newsletter, my monthly rundown of the food scene with all the relevant openings, closings and gossip, as well as the “Weekly Food Event Roundup”, where all the best food happenings of the week were summarized on Instagram. Despite the popularity of these formats, I had to pause them to free up resources for scaling the Food Tour and Recruiting side of the business. As I started focusing on those two businesses, I also started saying no to a lot of non-premium brand collaborations that interfered with the quality ambition of BFS (food, supermarkets etc.) and focused on building cooperations with a few selected, premium partners that I actually believe to be relevant for my audience.
When I paused the Digest, I received an outpour of love and support from readers that lead to me setting up this post and this campaign. I’ve listened to your feedback and am now officially offering the possibility to support my work: Via my Ko-Fi pageyou can now “buy me a pizza” (you know how much I love pizza) for 5€ and if enough are open to supporting me 5€ as a monthly payment, my commitment is to bring back the Berlin Food Digest and Weekly Event Roundup by employing someone to help me with it. And proceeds from Ko-Fi will go towards hiring more people.
The greatest, culinary unicorns of Berlin are classic, German restaurants that cook with high quality ingredients. One of them is the artisanal butcher shop Kumpel & Keule, a contemporary take on a German “Metzger” (butcher) that opened its doors in the famous Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg in 2016. Operated by a brigade of young and tattooed butchers, Kumpel & Keule has been a welcome addition to the German food offering of Berlin, quickly establishing a reputation of beautiful, handmade sausages, charcuterie and dry-aged steaks that’s echoed across city districts.
“The good vibes and down-to-earth approach to quality meat culture translated directly into this small eatery”
Photo by Hendrik Haase
In 2018 this butcher crew opened a new outlet for their gastronomic ambitions (they have a grill at the shop and will, upon request, chuck anything from the display on it): The Kumpel & Keule Speisewirtschaft, a small restaurant located merely 500 meters down the street from the shop and the market hall. The good vibes and down-to-earth approach to quality meat culture, something customers had learned to love over at the shop, translated directly into this small eatery where communal tables with wooden benches, draped in fluffy sheep skins (of course sustainable) invite guests to hang out.
“…a dish that’s miles away from the deep fried abyss of a sausage that’s served to thousands of ignorant tourists around Berlin every day.”
The Speisewirtschaft is all about great German food and drinks, both for very classical and honest cooking as well as contemporary takes on German food. Lunch is always more casual than dinner, offering items like a Currywurst, the unfortunate, culinary landmark of Berlin, where a lamb or horse sausage is served alongside a fantastic apricot ketchup – a dish that’s miles away from the deep fried abyss of a sausage that’s served to thousands of ignorant tourists around Berlin every day. Now you know.
Great versions of touristy food seem to be a thing at the Speisewirtschaft: The same can be said about the Northern German classic “Grünkohl mit Pinkel” (braised kale with pork sausage). A seasonal dish, usually only available on German Christmas markets, where massive pots of overcooked kale are simmering for hours with cheap sausages, a vile and heartless concoction best avoided. Kumpel & Keule showed me how this dish should taste, divine lightly stewed kale with with a fresh grainy pork sausage and best consumed with an ice-cold glass of the custom brewed Kumpel&Keule Heidenpeter beer.
“The ending of the meal, a desert with rhubarb, woodruff and vanilla ie cream looks. like something from a Tim Raue menu”
If this sounds too classic for you, you can always resort to the (righteously) celebrated Kumpel & Keule burger on the menu, both in its original version as well as in funked up gourmet version with Wagyu beef from German grass-fed cows. Dinner is packed with higher ambitions as fine plates of veal sweetbreads and beef tartar are followed by dishes like the “Doppelte Sauerei”: Cheeks of Schwäbisch-Hällisches Landwein, braised root vegetables and lettuce hearts. The alternative: A massive grilled porter house steak with fries. The ending of the meal with rhubarb, woodruff and vanilla ie cream looks like something from a Tim Raue menu, elaborately plated with countless elements – a testament to the constantly growing ambition level at the Speisewirtschaft.
“Thus is a splendid example of the next generation German restaurant.”
It’s not easy to find German chefs in Berlin that cook classic German well, because where there is talent there is usually also an ambition for fine dining and elimination for anything German. Chefs are just not that proud of the food of their grandmothers. This is partially also true at the Kumpel & Keule Speisewirtschaft where fine dinging desserts are served with burgers and steaks; all foods that aren’t really available in your old school German cookbook. In the end, this does however show how the next German generation eats and what quintessentially IS German in the 20th century. Don’t worry: There is great food for any meat eater on this menu (vegetarians might wanna go somewhere else) and I highly recommend Kumpel & Keule Speisewirtschaft as a splendid example of the next generation German restaurant.
Behold a time of celebration! Clocks sprung forward, the sun finally scared away the rain and Berlin summer is around the corner. Last month the Berlin food scene was dazzled with a few new Michelin stars as well, among them BFS longtime favourites ernst, Kin Dee and CODA, who all received a shiny new star to slap on their doors. Check out the full list here and make sure to visit these restaurants.
In other news: This newsletter is taking an elongated summer break whilst I focus my energies on paid projects for a while. The BFS platform and side projects, like this Digest, are real labour of love but all those meals cost money – so I’ll be focusing on how to make that happen for a while.
Happy eating & catch you on Instagram.
Until we meat again.
Rocket & Basil
Berlin-based sisters, Sophie & Xenia von Oswald, are already well known thanks to many years of pop-ups and meals reflecting their German/Iranian heritage. And from now on their breakfasts, lunches and brunches have a permanent home at the duo’s new shop on Schöneberg’s Lützowstr.
Headed up by David Kikillus, an ex Michelin-starred chef from Dortmund, this new fine-dining restaurant opened its doors this week on Oranienburger Str. right at the entrance to Heckmann-Höfe.
An oyster bar in the heart of Mitte is the exact sort of opening Berlin needs right now. Alongside the marvellous molluscs you’ll also find classic French dishes on Brunnenstr.
Freshly baked sweet and savoury scones are served alongside homemade jams, curds and clotted cream (ask the Brits which order they should be layered in – it’s an art form!) at this new sweet spot on Schönhauser Allee.
This new, slick-looking opening is promising “a new sort of dining experience” for Wilmersdorf’s Pariser Str.
A new Neopolitan pizza joint on Bänschstr. in Friedrichshain operated by a former pizzaiolo from Standard Pizza.
A partnership between Cynthia Barcomi and infarm‘s Shani Leiderman brings this new vegetable-focused restaurant to the Martin Groupius Bau cafe, inspired by ancient Jewish cuisines from around the world. Check out the indoor vertical garden with leafy greens and herbs ready for a true garden-to-table experience.
Bringing empanadas and real mate tea made in the traditional way to Wilmersdorfer Str., this new Uruguayan joint adds a little Latin flair to the West.
Another Neopolitan pizza opening and I’m not complaining, not one bit. Bring it ON. You’ll find this new Parker Bowles project on Prinzenstr.
Korean fine(er) set menus and German wine pairings at this new bar/restaurant on Fehrbelliner Str.
Update! Almost as soon as we’d reported on Kanaan’s KaDeWe opening did we learn the area was already closed for refurbishment. Let’s hope it all gets off the ground again soon.
This Michelin-starred ‘locavore’ restaurant has relaunched with a new concept and a new head chef in the shape of Silvio Pfeufer. Sommelier/owner Ivo Ebert remains at the helm of the restaurant and is once more setting out to answer the question: “What is Berlin cuisine?” This time with a much more international focus and ingredients from all over the world.
“From plague to plate” is the promise of this innovative food start-up which seeks to address the infestation of American Marsh Crabs clogging up our city’s waterways by serving them up for dinner. Watch out for a May opening of ‘Berlin lobster’, sort of…
From the owners of TISK comes rumours of a new German gastropub opening somewhere in Kreuzberg this year. Think ‘Eck’-style setting with TISK-style dining. Stay tuned for more info.
MORE THAN JUST A BLOG
IS YOUR BRAND COMING TO BERLIN?
On top of eating my way through our fine city, I also help international brands and businesses get to know its food history and potential through trend scouting trips, real estate projects, TV and press fixing jobs and more. If you know of anyone who could be helped by the BFS Agency services get in touch: info(@)berlinfoodstories.com
The tragedy of the Syrian war, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Syrians in the wake of it, really only had one upside: The spread of Syrian food across the world. Like a culinary wildfire, the haled cooking traditions of this Middle Eastern food nation have spread across Europe especially. Berlin was particularly blessed, a city famous for its appetite for Middle Eastern and Levantine cuisine, but where Syrian food didn’t really play a role until the first wave of Syrian refugee-opened restaurants started appearing around 2015.
“Like a culinary wildfire, the celebrated cooking traditions of this Middle Eastern food nation have spread across Europe.”
My own first encounter with this cuisine came in the shape of a Syrian style shawarma, served by shops like Aldimashqi, Jamal el Shaam and Alfaisal in Neukölln. Shawarma wasn’t new to me, Lebanese migrants had been serving the dish for decades, but the Syrian version with its intricately spiced chicken, uncanny amount of garlic toum and attention to detail, really blew my mind. The same applied to Syrian style baklava at Konditorei Damaskus, where every piece of heavenly flaky cheese knafeh made my realise how I would never be able to eat mediocre baklava again. My proper graduation into Syrian cuisine, however, was when I first ate the food of Malakeh Jazmati, the greatest ambassador of Syrian food in Berlin.
“My proper graduation into Syrian cuisine, however, was when I first ate the food of Malakeh Jazmati, the greatest ambassador of Syrian food in Berlin.”
Malakeh Jazmati’s formal lack of any kind of culinary education never stopped her from cooking up a Syrian storm. She came to Berlin in 2015, but at that point she had already been living in Jordanian exile for a few years, making a name for herself with her own TV food show called Maliket al-Tabkh (“Queen of Cooking”) on Orient TV. After having relocated to Berlin, her and her husband Mohammed started a Syrian catering business, quickly becoming famous to the point where they got to serve German Chancellor Angela Merkel Fattet Makdous at a reception. And as they repeatedly were told to open a restaurant, they eventually did.
Step into Malakeh the restaurant and you will be greeted by the massive portraits of Syrian actors, activists and artists. They are Malakeh’s heroes and role models and symbols of a lost home for her and her husband. Just like the cosy back corner of the restaurant that Malakeh herself has decorated in the style of a Syrian living room, complete with a beautiful crochet wall ornament.
Malakeh is from Damaskus herself and while a lot of the food at her restaurant is based on the cuisine of the Syrian capital, the full menu is really an homage to Syrian cuisine as a whole (especially Aleppo style) alongside Malakeh’s own creations. The foods and ingredients of her new home Berlin have inspired her to conceive dishes that draw inspiration from all kitchens she encountered here, like the Shish Belfakhar, an intricate mixture of grilled chicken with Aleppo peppers, spices and fries baked in a flatbread-covered tray. At the table, the dough cover is cut open and the subsequent release of steam form the chicken and the peppers will fill the room with delight. Other classical dishes include Jebet Altajer, the “Trader’s pockets”: Sensational deep fried pita bread filled with chickpeas, peppers, cheese, corn, mushrooms and sesame sauce.
“..the food at her restaurant is based on the cuisine of the Syrian capital…an homage to Syrian cuisine as a whole”
Do not make the mistake of leaving Malakeh’s without eating the Fattet Makdous, the sublime Damaskus dish which for Malakeh symbolises Syrian cuisine like few other things: Small eggplants, fried whole to soft and buttery perfection, served on a bed of gee-fried flat bread pieces, tomato sauce and yoghurt. A marvellous and rich dish that’s gets its kick from the unbelievable combination of ghee, tomato sauce, yoghurt and fried bread. Yoghurt also plays a pivotal role in her Kibbeh where the meat-filled bulgur quenelles sit in this fantastic, warm yoghurt sauce. But do make sure to always ask for the daily specials, these are usually the most interesting foods and they change on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. Also very worthwhile is the Syrian style brunch on Saturdays that features a whole different menu.
“A marvellous and rich dish that’s gets its kick from the unbelievable combination of ghee, tomato sauce, yoghurt and fried bread.”
The reason why Malakeh is a truly outstanding restaurant comes down to the simple facts that we here have an outstanding personality cooking proper (mostly) Syrian food with great ingredients. Malakeh sources all ingredients with meticulous care, often travelling to Istanbul for the things she can’t buy here, and by that offering a kind cooking that’s very rare to find in Berlin. The “Queen of Cooking” has found a home in Berlin and she is showcasing how real food from Syria can taste and why this great nation always has been celebrated by its neighbours for its culinary traditions. A gem of a restaurant, that’s what Malakeh is, and we’re lucky to have it.
The Guide Michelin 2019 for Germany was released on February 26th, 2019 in Berlin and, as usual, Berlin surprised the rest of the world with a few, very unexpected Michelin star winners.
“..it was already clear that the Berlin line-up of starred restaurants would loose one of it’s most famed members”
Before the 2019 German Michelin guide even was released, it was already clear that the Berlin line-up of starred restaurants would loose two of it’s most famed members: Reinstoff in Mitte closed its doors after ten years of service and thereby also resigning its 2 Michelin stars and the same applies to Christian Lohse and his restaurant Fischers Fritz at the Regent. Luckily, in Berlin the next culinary trailblazers are always just around the corner. As usual, there were a lot of speculations beforehand on who would get stars this year. The hottest contender for a new star was probably Ernst in Wedding, the famed 12-seater that moved from a private apartment setting to a proper restaurant in 2017 and who become famous way beyond the borders of Berlin and Germany. The question here was more wether Ernst would move in at one or maybe two stars directly. But there were also plenty of speculations if this would indeed be the year that Tim Raue would make the move from two the three stars.
“The outcome showed again how hard the Michelin Guide is to predict”
The outcome showed again how hard the Michelin Guide is to predict: In total, 37 new one-stars were awarded in Germany this year. In addition to that, 6 restaurants moved from one star to two stars (among those Sosein in Heroldsberg, one of my favourite restaurants in Germany outside of Berlin). And, to everybody’s surprise – no new three stars in Berlin and Germany, which means that Tim Raue is stuck with this two stars and that Berlin has to wait another year for its third star.
“But this wasn’t the big surprise of the night: The fourth star was!”
Of the 37 new stars, four were awarded to Berlin, and I can say that three of those came as a surprise to me. Ernst did, as expected, receive their first star and head chef Dylan Watson-Brawn commented “Thank you – we won’t change anything!” and jokingly adding “Expect maybe downsize to half the seats” when asked if he is thinking of increasing the size of the restaurant. The second new star in Berlin was awarded to Savu and Finnish Head Chef Sauli Kemppainen, a chef that’s cooked several Michelin stars before. The third star went to CODA, the extraordinary Dessert Dining restaurant in Neukölln, that’s been waiting for a star for three years. “We’re thrilled that our efforts have finally paid off, especially the adjustment of our concept from cocktails to dining.” a seemingly relieved Head Chef René Frank commented. But CODA wasn’t the big surprise of the night: The fourth star was. In the true spirit of widening horizons and acknowledging diversity, Thai restaurant Kin Dee in Schöneberg with Head Chef Dalad Kambhu received a Michelin star for her contemporary take on Thai food with local ingredients. “It’s incredible, we just came out of a complicated year and this was so unexpected. I’m just happy to be putting proper Thai food on the Berlin map.” a happy Kambhu commented. And so am I – a tremendous achievement by a young, non-German chef!
This puts the total number of Michelin star restaurants in Berlin to 23 with an offering that’s more diverse and exciting than ever. These are the Berlin Michelin stars of 2019:
It’s been a fantastic start to the year with several, incredible restaurant discoveries and a food scene that’s pulsating with good energy! Check the BFS Gram regularly for details (and keep on pounding me with those comments please!) On a massive non-Berlin side note, now that Finest Food Stories is LIVE, don’t miss checking out its spectacular To-Eat Listswhich unite the infinite knowledge of my favourite friends-in-food from all over the world. You’ll find insider tips on the best places to eat in Hong Kong, Oslo, Lisbon and many more – everything you need to survive a food weekend or longer. Use them to escape the Berlin winter, tell your friends, and follow the Finest Gram for updates.
Thank you & Mahlzeit.
ps. This Digest hits newsletter subscriber’s inboxes first with added competitions and insider tips every month. Sign up to stay in the loop!
The multi-talented sculptor Kristiane Kegelmann has channelled her vast patisserie knowledge into a new line of futuristic chocolates with ingredients sourced from some of Brandenburg’s finest producers including Erdhof Seewalde and Grete Peschken. Choosing a Berlin food gift just got a whole lot easier.
Uniting an Australian concept with a huge variety of southern Asian flavours, you’ll find this cosy new cafe on Flughafenstr.
After many years doing the rounds at Bite Club and Street Food Thursday, this modern Thai restaurant now has its own fixed location on Gryphiusstr.
Otto X Mrs Robinson’s
The Mrs Robinson’s crew are going on a one month sabbatical and taking over the space is Otto – a brand new restaurant concept brought to you by chef, Vadim Otto Ursus, and Wagner‘s Jan Otto Hugel. It all kicks off on Feb 14th. Berlin’s hottest pop-up? I say JA.
A new Japanese izakaya that comes to Berlin by way of Riga, Latvia is set to open somewhere around town in March. Stay tuned on where and when.
Thai BBQ champion, Khwan, is behind this new restaurant serving “southern and central Thai cuisine”. Location TBC but keep an eye out for pop-ups. Also: check out their related boat-noodle concept called Boat 36.
Kreuzberg’s Turkish grill heroes are headed for pastures new with rumours of a soon-to-open restaurant on Kurfürstendamm. Lucky West Berliners…
And speaking of luck, I’m damn happy that Friedrichshain’s Hako Ramen is opening a second shop on Prenzlauer Berg’s Kastanienallee!
These Markthalle Neun stalwarts will be opening an all-new bakery with an inbuilt PIZZERIA over in Schöneberg during the coming months, spreading some of Berlin’s most loved bakes a little further afield.
Ever wished for a thinner take on the pizza crust offerings around Berlin? Mercato promises “thin crust, flame-cooked” pizzas from its new location on Danziger Str, opening this month.
Planning a trip and need to know what’s happening on the local food scene? Finest Food Stories unites experts in Warsaw, Lisbon, Hong Kong, Oslo, Stockholm and more, to bring you the must-visit, must-eat locations and dishes in each city. You’ll find 15 places spread across 10 categories including wine bars, bakeries and breakfast. Want chicken piri-piri in Lisbon, Warsaw‘s best pierogi, or intel on Hong Kong‘s dim sum? It’s all there for you.
Hallmann & Klee is located in Rixdorf, an remote corner of Neukölln with the pleasant vibe of a small, German village. The location and its initial incarnation as a breakfast and lunch joint in 2016 with seemingly low ambitions made me stay away until 2018. When I finally did visit (for dinner), it didn’t take long for me to understand that I had been missing out. This wasn’t just the hip breakfast place I had envisioned. No, Hallmann & Klee is a remarkable neighbour restaurant with good vibes lurking around every corner.
“Hallmann & Klee is a remarkable neighbour restaurant with good vibes lurking around every corner.”
You could go as far as calling Hallmann & Klee the ultimate neighbourhood restaurant. You can have breakfast, lunch, coffee and dinner in all its variations. Come for a breakfast bit, stay for a light lunch and stick around for coffee just before you order a proper three-course dinner with a splendid glass of wine. Hallmann & Klee is all of that. Five days a week, this restaurant functions as social and gastronomic focal point of the area around Böhmischer Platz.
“You can have breakfast, lunch, coffee and dinner in all its variations.”
Owner, Sara Hallmann, grew up in Southern Germany working on her uncle’s farm and this shows in every pore of Hallman & Klee. Whereas breakfast and lunch constitute simple and lovely versions of modern, German food (bread/spreads/eggs for breakfast and salad/soup for lunch), it’s really in the evening, when dinner is served, where the gastronomic ambitions of Hallmann & Klee become tangible. A three-course menu is offered as a part of a small but very fine à la carte menu that mixes seasonal fare with bistro classics. Seasonal dishes tend to be more refined, like a plate of spinach with Périgord truffles (also poached egg, butter, whey…sensational!) or seared chicken breast with artichoke cream I had in the winter. Other items, like the steak tartar and french-style steamed mussels, are never taken off the menu and act as a comforting refuge for simple urges that don’t extend towards three courses. Be advised though, pastry chef Rike is a prodigy, responsible not only for a spectacular offering of freshly baked bread and baked goods throughout the day, but really also for spectacular dessert creations on the dinner menu. Thick cream with blackcurrant sorbet, dulce and liquorice-dusted popcorn? A dessert good enough to make it onto the menus of many Michelin-starred restaurants in Germany.
“A dessert good enough to make it onto the menus of many Michelin-starred restaurants in Germany.”
A meal at Hallmann & Klee is a thoroughly enjoyable affair with refined, yet heartwarmingly comforting food. Just really solid and honest cooking. It’s however the staff’s sincere sense of hospitality that push this place from “great” to “exceptional”. Sarah, a trained chef who used to enjoy hiding from guests in the kitchen, has in her roll as restaurant owner of Hallmman & Klee grown into an exceptional restaurant manager. Her utterly disarming and friendly demeanour, along with her very likeable mix of natural and classical wines, can light up the darkest winter night. Hallmann & Klee is a restaurant full of positive, female energy with a very conscious sourcing policy on ingredients. Good food drink served by nice people. And I wish I was living next to it.
My most exciting restaurant discovery of 2018? If I had to pick one, it has to be the Turkish grill Örnek in Wedding. But let’s rewind and take that story from the beginning.
A decade of culinary exploration in Berlin have left few stones unturned for me and the unearthing of a true hidden restaurant gem (per definition a top-of-its-category eatery that’s been operating under the radar for a significant amount of time) is rare. This, of course, doesn’t mean you stop looking.
“My most exciting restaurant discovery of 2018? If I had to pick one, it has to be the Turkish grill Örnek in Wedding”
In early September 2018 I followed up upon the rumor of an unusually good Turkish hole-in-the-wall in Wedding near Gesundbrunnen. With me I had the crew from Ernst, for whom the outlook of a new staff meal joint close to their restaurant encouraged them to join this explorative mission. All it took for us that day at Örnek (also known as Örnek Lahmacun EVI) were a few bites of our Adana Dürum kebaps and lahmacuns to stare at each other in silent agreement: This stuff was next level.
“The moment you squeeze your way into Örnek and stand in front of the counter, you’ll notice: this place is different.”
Berlin has one of the best Turkish food scenes in the world outside of Turkey. Still, the average quality of the Turkish food here is mostly a pale comparison to the vibrant and eclectic offering you’ll find back in Turkey. The moment you squeeze your way into “Örnek” and stand in front of the counter, you’ll notice: this place is different. The counter itself is not full of the usual, sad vegetable offering you see in kebab shops. Instead a brimming full display of vibrantly fresh looking tomatoes, sauces, salads and meats ready to go on the grill. Four guys in tiny kitchen working eclectically, making sure the food keeps on coming in frantic volumes seven days a week, all while meat skewers sizzle on the smoking grill, dough is being tossed and stretched into round shapes and steaming breads keep on flying out of the oven. Örnek is always busy, it’s merely a question of how busy.
“All it took for us that day were a few bites of our Adana Dürum kebaps and lahmacuns to stare at each other in silent agreement: This stuff was next level.”
The people behind Örnek are from Şanlıurfa (or Urfa), a gastronomical focal point in South Eastern Turkey famous for its cuisine, and they decided to not take any shortcuts when to comes to their food offering. Örnek specialises in grilled kebap skewers and lahamacun and as everything you order is cooked fresh a-la-minute for you, an average order will take 15 minutes to complete. But the wait will be well worth it, because regardless of what you order from the menu, it’s all been made by hand and it’s all bloody exceptional.
“…they decided to not take any shortcuts when to comes to their cooking.”
Skewers can be ordered rolled in a lavas flatbread or as a “porsion” plate. A favourite is the magnificent “Adana Porsion”, a pair of chargrilled and juicy Adana minced lamb kebaps, served on a hot lavas flatbread with a side of grilled tomatoes and peppers and a dollop of homemade acılı ezme, the magnificent Turkish chili pepper mixture. Also on the plate: Fiery spicy green chilis, a usual condiment in Urfa, but highly unusual in Turkish Berlin. The juiciness and intensity of the Adana kebap in combination with the fresh condiments and spicy chilis sauce is mindbogglingly good and the meat quality is only matched by Adana Grillhaus and Doyum in Berlin. But at Örnek, the quality of the bread and the vibrant condiments take this dish to the next level. The “Tavuk Sis” or “Kuzu Sis” (Chicken and Lamb Sis kebap) are equally great and the brilliant “Ciger” (minced liver) and “Külbasti” (Chickpea) testament to the fact that everything on this menu is exceptional.
But the true highlight of Örnek, and the one reason the whole Arabic community lines up at this shop, are the glorious lahmacun. Also known as kıymalı in Urfa or “Turkish pizza” in Berlin, these thin flatbreads are readily available in the city, but nobody does them like Örnek. Fresh out of the oven, covered in a generous layer of the minced lamb/peppers/spice mix, Örnek’s lahmacun pack an explosive flavour punch and put a fulminant end to discussion on where the get the best lahmacun in Berlin: It’s here.
“The juiciness and intensity of the Adana in combination with the fresh condiments and spicy chilis sauce is mindbogglingly good”
My visits at Örnek have been a true revelation and an affirmation that my gloomy view on the quality level of much of the Turkish food in Berlin is justified. Especially Döner kebap sellers, with their heart-wrenchingly sad meat skewers, tasteless vegetables and magnificently shit sauces that come in a can. You can eat at a hundred Döner joints in Berlin and none of them will even come close to Örnek. Are you visiting Berlin and looking for the best Döner kebap? How about skipping that Döner and instead having a spectacular Adana or Sis with a side of lahmacun at Örnek. It will cost you the same and I promise that you won’t regret it. It might in fact change your whole perception on how Turkish food should taste, just like it did for me.
The “Adana Porsion” as a plate
The minced liver
Lahmacuns on the hot plate above the oven
2018 was a brilliant year. It was the year that our experimental dinner series NEU Dinners came to life; Berlin’s Scandinavian food drought came to an end with the opening of Palsta (and brief glimpses of brilliance at Sæson and Rødder); we were gifted our own version of London’s St. JOHN (hello St. Bart); Goldies fries reached next level amazing; ice creams got a lot sweeter thanks to Duo; Russians made their (lovely) mark on Italian food at MINE; an undiscovered Syrian Shawarma culture came to light at Aldimashqi; we were blessed with a score of great new ramen places; baking got taken to the next level by Albatross; and drinking to whole new (giddy) heights at Mr. Susan. I could go on…but you get the point, it was a tremendous year in food. Thank you for being part of last year’s food journey and here’s to a big, fat, brilliant and tasty 2019!
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This bold new Schillerkiez neighbourhood restaurant is packed with interesting flavours, low intervention wines, and some beautifully smooth interiors.
The refurbishment of KaDaWe’s sixth floor food court continues with the opening of this wooden-clad health emporium. Stock up on cold-pressed juices and ALL the super foods before getting your Gucci on…
Influenced by Japanese and Lebanese cuisine, three friends have decided to start a vegetarian kitchen mixing Japanese and middle-eastern references with some Lebanese Arak…
As impossible to eat as it is delicious, this deep fried calzone pizza is served from a window on Kottbusser Damm and brought to you by the pizza wizards at Malafemmena.
Berlin’s first gluten-free sourdough bakery (which BFS’s resident glutard, Kate, is exceptionally excited about) has officially opened on Charlottenburg’s Fasanenstr. bringing sourdoughs, pizzas, pastries, cookies and more to Berlin’s gluten-free starved masses.
With handmade noodles, broths broiled for up to 12 hours and some pretty promising pork chasu, this new ramen joint is exactly what Oranienstr. needs.
The Bauhaus is brought to life at this new Charlottenburg restaurant thanks to brutal aesthetics and geometric ironwork surrounding each table.
This new additional to Skalitzer Str. promises “serious drinks, serious food and serious music” from its basement location.
Ngo Kim Pak
Duc Ngo is back with what he does best: fusion Asian. Expect bokki and ramyun mixed ramens, Korean-inspired sushi and German-influenced kimchi. If anyone call pull it off, Duc can.
Rene Beck Hansen left big shoes to fill as head chef at this glorious Nordic safespace but his replacement, Maja Sommer Samuelsen, who comes from the Danish island of Funen has taken over the task with a new menu, same philosophy.
BLN! Toasties & Prosecco
Coming to Wedding in 2019, a new toasties and prosecco space. That’s all the info I have for now… is Wedding really ready for this?
My difficult second album, Finest Food Stories, is finally LIVE! A collection of the world’s most exceptional culinary experiences, as told by the finest minds in food. It’s THE sanctuary for serious eaters and anyone who plans their travels around places to eat instead of sights to see. Check out To-Eat Lists in Hong Kong, Oslo & Warsaw with lots more cities coming soon!
Oderstraße should righteously be renamed the riviera of Neukölln. The street constitutes the western border of Tempelhofer Feld and beyond it you have nothing but the vast emptiness of the decommissioned airport-turned-park. At night, this void space creates the illusion of an ocean (hence the Oderstraße riviera), and while the sound of waves breaking on the beach may forever be absent, with the opening of the Nordic wine bistro “Palsta”, the street can now at least boast of having one of Berlin’s best seafood restaurants.
“..while the sound of waves breaking on the beach may forever be absent, with the opening of the Nordic wine bistro “Palsta”, the street can now at least boast of having one of Berlin’s best seafood restaurants.”
Since it’s opening in August 2018, “Palsta” quickly made a strong claim to fame to be in named in the league of Berlin’s finest casual dining bistros (hello St. Bart, Michelberger,JaJa, Wagner & co). Not because of serious investments in PR or because the restaurant belongs to a big group – word just quickly spread that couple of Scandinavians were serious about opening a good restaurant. The team behind the scenes was promising: Filip Sondergaard, the Danish ex-Sous Chef of the legendary (and now closed) restaurant Dóttir and Viivi Haussila-Seppo, owner and seasoned people-charmer from Finland.
“word just quickly spread that couple of Scandinavians were serious about opening a good restaurant”
Together they assembled an international team that oozes irresistible charm. “Palsta” is Finnish for garden plot and heartfelt ambitions to not wow the guest with fanciness. Guests that pass the wooden doors of “Palsta” are greated by a shelf of wine (“Palsta” also sells bottles to take home), grey stone walls, light wooden floors and small oak tables set across two rooms that stretch into the open kitchen in the back where you’ll find Filip Sondergaard. The fact that Haussila-Seppo found a chef for her project that actually lives in a garden lot in Wedding (“Schrebergarten”) was a pure coincidence that says everything about the good karma of this project. Fittingly, the crops of Sondergaard’s garden (mostly tomatoes in year one) regularly end up on the menu at “Palsta”
“Together they assembled an international team that oozes irresistible charm”
Chef Sondergaard knows his Nordic flavours; his initial signature creation of Atlantic shrimp tartare on toasted rye bread with black pepper mayo was a dish that quickly spread around Berlin’s Instagram feeds. It showed the vision for this kitchen: A menu primarily based on Atlantic cold water seafood with inspiration drawn from the whole Scandinavian continent. The starters are his strongest game, like the before mentioned shrimp tartar or his unbelievably good grilled scallops on baby kale, trout roe, fried buckwheat and boiled egg mayo. Same goes for the smoked salmon with cucumber, mustard seed and sour cream or his pumpkin croquettes with a pumpkin seed oil aioli – Sondergaard loves to combine seafood with fat and acidity and then supercharge it with light emulsions. Main courses usually include a piece of pristine cod with pan fried vegetables and browned butter and there will of course be some pork on the menu along with side dishes of potatoes with dill or lovage and bowls of vegetable pickles – all in the line of Nordic eating traditions. This onslaught of Scandinavian beauty from the kitchen is handled excellently by Haussila-Seppo and her team and the wine selection fits the requirements of the low-intervention nerd: Cloudy, funky and unfiltered gems from all across Europe.
“This onslaught of Scandinavian beauty from the kitchen is handled excellently by Haussila-Seppo and her team and the wine selection fits the requirements of the low-intervention natural wine nerd”
As a Scandinavian, moving to Berlin always meant forsaking any ambitions of direct access to your culinary traditions. Regardless if you were Swedish, Norwegian, Danish or even Finnish, from the moment you entered city limits you better made your piece with the total lack of seafood in the quality you’re used to as well as Nordic ingredients and food. All attempts to fill this market gap in the last 20 years have proven to be futile (“Alter Schwede” in Charlottenburg, “Munch’s Hus” in Schöneberg etc.). It will however only take minutes for any Scandinavian to feel right at home at “Palsta”. This restaurant fills a gap in the food offering of Berlin that was way overdue, but it’s a revelation to see how charming and heartwarmingly delicious this long-awaited arrival of the North is. And thus, it is with my greatest pleasure, that I hereby officially proclaim the Scandinavian food drought of Berlin to be over. Long live the North.