With so many great restaurants in Montreal opening up every ten seconds, it easy to forget the little gems that consistently serve up great meals. One of those such places is the Berlin on Fairmount, corner St-Urbain. If you are looking for authentic german style food, this is the place to go.
Sarah Musgrave rated this place recently, and IMO, as with many of her reviews, she did not take into consideration the format of the meal while ordering. This is a German restaurant, expect the portions to be enormous, so please don't order an appetizer and then act surprised at how full you are...
My most recent meal there consisted of a perfect mixed green salad (the dressing is ridiculously good), followed by an apple schnapps. Both of these were included in the price of my main plate which was a schnitzel covered with a brown mushroom sauce, served with braised red cabbage and spatzle (german dumplings). It is essential to note that substituting spatzle for the usual potatoes is a must, especially since there is no better vehicle for sopping up the tasty sauce. The schnitzel is light and deeply brown thus crispy on the outside, but the meat remains tender on the inside. With this meal, I enjoyed a lovely bottle of Pinot Blanc.
My meal was $21 and the wine $35. I dare you to find a better deal in town... Reservations, as you can imagine, are essential and expect to feel like you entered a time zone. Nothing says authentic more than being in a restaurant where you feel like a minority when you order in English!
I really enjoyed eating at Berlin - I went earlier this year for a friend's birthday party. The highlight of the evening was the enormous glass boot filled with beer, which was passed around the table for each person to try to down as much as they could. The last person to drink is declared the winner.
Our experience was further enhanced by the presence, at the next table, of 4 elderly German men who frequently and loudly clinked their steins together and enthusiastically sang rather patriotic-sounding songs in German.
If Berlin does spargel, it's probably going to be imported from Europe or South America, i.e. more about looks than flavour. Even the pricey, just-off-the-plane spargel sold at Boucherie Atlantique is a shadow of the stuff that makes Germans into stalkers in the spring. More than most vegetables, asparagus should be local (talking flavour here and setting aside the issue of food miles). In a few weeks, a small crop of Quebec-grown white asparagus will go on sale at Chez Louis; it's excellent but way expensive.
If you just get starters, you won't really get the full experience of the german cuisine. If anything, I would suggest getting just a plate (which comes with a salad and an apple schnapps) and take the rest home - makes excellent morning after a big night food... And for the prices, even if you don't finish your plate, you won't mind.
I visited Berlin restaurant a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it. I was really looking forward to going back again on a recent trip to Montreal; however when my boyfriend and I arrived there we found that a new bar/lounge had just opened in its place. We ended up dining at Le Petit Munich, which was pretty good, but not as good as Berlin. I just wanted to let everyone know that Berlin is no longer there so that hopefully they wont show up and be disappointed!