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Apr 9, 2009 03:59 PM

I could use a really good meal in Berlin

Kind, fellow foodies out there - it's my version of spring break (not in college, but hell, why not?) and so I took a quick trip to Prague and Berlin. Prague is a wonderful city and I could really spend more time there - but if I did, I think I would cook a lot. The eating in Prague was...disappointing. I tried, and hard. I ended up kinda giving up on the restaurants and just doing a tour of the various cafes because the eating was so not good but the cafes are so beautiful at least I would have that. Ate at Chez Marcel - friendly people, but lousy food and dessert. Had a terrible lamb dish at Cafe Louvre which I basically ordered because white asparagus was served with it -- unfortunately, they grilled them to mush. Had a really awful chicken salad and salty soup at Mlejnice. The one place I didn't get to that looked yummy was La Degustation, which I wish I had realized was just down the street, but I ran out of time. Maybe Czech food isn't my thing. Anyway, on to the present.

Am staying in Mitte (I know, I know, but it was convenient), near the Gendarmenmarkt and Checkpoint Charlie. Haven't been in Berlin for about 7 years, so I can't remember any good places. Am dining alone - but in SF, I do that all the time, having a great meal at the bar (like @ Bar Tartine, Pizzeria Delfina, etc) or or doing the bistro thing and it's never weird. Arrived tonight starving, went to an Italian place down the street called Malatesta. Ate alone and it was weird. They didn't seem to serve at their bar. The food was really average and the service was indifferent. Started with an appetizer of white asparagus. It came baked with some type of cheese (it would have been a much better dish simply grilled for a few minutes with olive oil, salt, pepper but it was ok) and this bizzare pile of prosciutto on the side. They tasted weird together and weird separately. Pasta dish was 2 types of mushroom - noodles (and I say noodles because they were literally German egg noodles that would go in stroganoff) were odd tasting and textured, and the whole dish just didn't work for me, and I adore mushrooms. Overall, another very dissatisfying meal. I'm feeling very good-food deprived, which for foodie-me, basically turns what could be a great vacation into a sucky vacation.

So, please, some suggestions - they don't have to be fancy. Single diner friendly, casual or mid-range, even low budget - just good. I'm wiling to travel around. I will go to KaDeWe's food hall for a lunch but I'd like 2 good, even terrific dinners. Any and all suggestions would be welcome. I searched the postings and most were pretty old...

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  1. As of Oct. 2008:
    Ma - excellent with respect to everything - (*, 2009 guide
    )Fischers Fritz - Berlin´s only 2 star (2008 and 2009 guide) -
    Hugos on top of Interconti (*) - disappointing (in relation to MA and FF
    )Avoid Borchard: popular scene (politicians and other irrelevant personalities, absolutely arrogant service, 75% eat Wienerschnitzel, good but you risk to smell fatty)
    Fancy areas with myriads of restaurants you just should walk and space yourself: Kollwitzplatz, Oranienburgberstraße, Savignyplatz.

    1. If you are wiling to travel, head to Renger-Patzsch in Schöneberg. Absolutely outstanding modern German fare at very decent prices (apps under 10, mains under 20 euro). Every time I've eaten there I had a fantastic meal. It might be a bit of a pain to get to, but it's SO worth it.

      For a very Berliner experience, head to Kreuzberg's best fried chicken place "Zur Henne".

      A good Italian place in Mitte is Cantamaggio, or Trattoria Paparazzi in Prenzlauer Berg.

      Personally, I'd avoid Oranienburgerstr. and Kollwitzplatz like the plague -- those are the main tourist strips, and the food is mediocre at best.

      Guten Appetit!

      7 Replies
      1. re: linguafood

        Have to mention, we had a really disappointing meal at Renger-Patzsch last night....was there with a friend, started with the summer salad and tarte flambee with leeks, walnuts, and blue cheese. really great, difficult to stop eating, i'd order it again in a second. The entrees, however, were either slightly disappointing or bad.

        Could be that it's a meat restaurant. I had a "crisp-fried pike perch filet with cabbage and a caraway jus" that was meh, ok. Fish was cooked perfectly, seasoning was fine, but caraway was undetectable and the overall impression was...."pleasant", or maybe "fine". My vegetarian friend ordered "chanterelles with cheese dumplings", and had this been some kind of blindfold test i would never have believed it came from the same restaurant. it was like a generic health food veggie burger had been pureed and re-pattified, then cooked until every trace of moisture was gone and only salt and thyme remained. And the chanterelles seriously didn't taste like anything, except maybe more thyme and a hint of butter. very strange.

        nice place, good atmosphere, and as a meat eater, i'd probably go back and give it another shot, but really, my friend's entree was one of the more disappointing things i've been served in a restaurant lately, yes, certainly because of all the good things i'd read about the place, but still. not good.

        1. re: markemorse

          Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. Vegetarian dishes are likely not the chef's passion, given his penchant for speck & heartier stuff in general.

          I've never had a bad or even underwhelming meal there myself, but 'exciting' food it is definitely not. Just good regional cooking for decent prices.

          Give MItterhofer or Jolesch a shot some time. They're Austrian, really... but close 'nuff, and delightful.

          Or Neubau on Bergmannstr.

          Juten Hunger :-D

          1. re: linguafood

            thanks linguafood, i've been reading your reviews here pretty religiously and this was the first rec that hasn't been great (not yr fault, tons of other people have rec'd too)....i'm sure you're right about the chef's passion, but yes, it didn't read like a "vegetarian" dish, it read like a feature for chanterelles with some nice supporting dumplings. it was just somewhere between fair-minus and poor.

            so far yam yam has been the best meal we've had, i think the vegetarian is going to little otik tonight while i either do shwarma or currywurst. other targets include si an (unless there's a better vietnamese in the mitte/pberg area), rutz (where i've already enjoyed a few great meals), and tian fu.

            1. re: markemorse

              you might like toca rouge and/or dudu berlin, or yum cha heroes, too.

              i'd recommend wok show as well, but it's really better for larger groups so one can OD on their dumplings.

              a GREAT syrian place is on torstr. called yarok. they have platters for two, veg and non-veg, and their hot sauce is to die for.

              1. re: linguafood

                thanks, those are all already in my sights except for the syrian place...i might do that tonight. thanks for all the time and info....

                1. re: markemorse

                  yarok was really good, i had the daily special, kind of like an okra and beef stew, served with rice and salad. interesting flavors, careful presentation, in fact you can really tell they care, period. i didn't eat most of my rice, just cause, well, i don't like to eat a lot of rice, and when i went to pay, the gentleman behind the counter said, "you don't like rice? (he'd cleared my plate) it's also possible to have this with potatoes or other vegetables"...i told him everything was great, nothing to worry about, i think he eventually believed me. would like to go back to see how much care they put into a falafel (;->).....

                  1. re: markemorse

                    glad you enjoyed it. i am still hoping to reproduce that fantastic hot sauce these days...

      2. Thanks Marc and linguafood for the suggestions! I particularly appreciate the Renger-Patzsch suggestion - had a very good meal there this evening. Cheers!

        1 Reply
        1. re: sumi

          That's great to hear! I'm happy you liked it. I can't wait to get back ---

        2. I just had a lovely set meal at SCHLESISCH BLAU in Kreuzberg, just out the Ubahn stop at Schleisches (...) Tor. Very lovely self-serve off the wood stove white spargel soup, huge heap of greens, then a very tasty herby vegeteble "lasagna" that was a shredded mass of veggies in a burrito-like form of philo dough, and we also had a nice pork chop in a brown sauce which came with what I can't describe better than and herbed french toast. Dark brown sauce & okra. Very good! Dessert was a plum tart. The menu changes daily and it just a warm and dear place, I think. DOes anyone else know about it?

          1 Reply
          1. re: waterbuffalo

            I just heard about it recently at a party. Sounds like a place worth checking out!

          2. Go o Michael Hoffmann at Margaux - it's terrfific. Amazing and unique herbal and vegetable creations, unique in its own way... See my blog High-End Food for a latest reference...

            Avoid MA - it was very dissapointing there...

            1 Reply
            1. re: IFS2008

              I've been to both Margaux and Mâ & have to agree... if I am going to blow that much money, I'd choose Margaux over Mâ any time. Personally, I think Tim Raue is massively over-hyped.