Wieder was Neues im alten Westen!
Die Vesper Bar eröffnet heute Abend
am Kurfürstendamm 160. Nur
geladene Gäste sind heute willkommen,
ab morgen kann jeder in die Bar im Bond-Stil.
13. April 2012
It’s lunchtime on a normal weekday. A valiant little band of three is trying to battle the tristesse of a giant, spiffed up dining hall on Karl-Liebknecht-Straße with Bavarian folklore. There are 1200 seats in Berlin’s version of the Bayrische Hofbräuhaus Brewery, enough to fit numerous full loads of tour buses, but only a small fraction of them are actually occupied. There’s little to do for the Dirndl and leather pant-clad waiters here on a lazy afternoon. But on peak hours on Thursday through Saturday nights, crowds people have been known to dance on beer benches here.
There’s little to complain about when it comes to the décor. The Munich original took most of the interior design into its hands, from the original beer coasters to the „Engel Aloisius“ emblem. The kitchen serves authentic Bavarian „Haxerln“ and „Brezerln“ (hocks and pretzels) so that guests can rest assured that inside this barren cube near Alexanderplatz there is true Bavarian Hofbräu spirit to be found.
Just a barley grain’s throw away, on Friedrichstraße, lies grand gastronomer Roland Mary’s former “San Nicci”, now “Fritz 101” Bavarian eatery. Berlin-Mitte has always held a special tie with Bavarian culinary culture, it reaches back to the South German farmers that came to the capital in the 19th century to pour out their pale beers on the banks of the Spree river. Today, venues like the Augustiner at Gendarmenmarkt are reviving Southern tradition here.
Upon enterint the Fritz 101, I begin to wonder who might have payed the franchise fees for this Bavarian chain restaurant. I seat myself and, after a brief observation of my surroundings, start to feel like I’m sitting in a Bavarian train station restaurant. The Menu is designed as if the Brewery sales manager threw it into the franchise package for a lump sum. It lists all the typical “Schmankerls” like Leberkäse, crispy pork roast, Currywurst and Wiener Schnitzel.
But not all of them are always available to order. Half of the meals on the menu brought to the table by a posh waitress in a plaid shirt have been crossed out with a ball point pen (!) “Those are the more elaborate dishes, we only serve them for dinner” explains the friendly waitress. These “elaborate” dishes include appetizers like Obazda, sautéed Swabian dumplings and a Vesper platter from the grill, as well as three of the four Vegetarian dishes and the Havel pike perch. I order the Leberkäse, one of the remaining daytime dishes. It comes with a lukewarm potato salead on a pretty, lengthy porcelain plate. It’s supposed to be housemade and I marvel at the skillfulness with which it is able to hide its alleged authenticity, since it tastes more like convenience food than anything else. And while I down a liter of well-drawn Allgäuer Büble, I notice another fully inappropriate detail: The speakers are blasting “Vor der Kaserne” by Marlene Dietrich. What could be less Bavarian than this emblematic Berlin blues icon?
I head to Meisterstück at Hausvogteiplatz, where the music is discreet and the food innovative. Meisterstück is both a restaurant and a delicatessen store and its name (masterpiece) refers less to Bavarian culture than to its selection of products: premium quality, from small production sites, organic, some of it certified slowfood. The Bavarian flavor makes itself noticeable in the dishes (they can be ordered to go), and the ambience: Meisterstück looks like a stylish noble barnhouse with a high wellness factor – and the 34 cuckoo clocks by Rombach & Haas might not be Bavarian but they certainly are culty.
Dinner guests must try the self-baked dark bread with different spreads like apricot-rosemary or honey mustard with young leeks. Primarily though, Meisterstück is an ambitious Wurst and beer house: You can order salmon sausages, duck sausages with chili mustard, regensburger sausages and Nürnberger bratwurst by Meister Behringer and Currywurst by master butcher Friedrich. Sausages are roasted or grilled and contain a lot of fat, which might be a challenge for many urban stomachs. It might be best to down a handmade Craft beer by Braufactum to help your digestion along – international craft beers are good but pricey: A Brooklyn Lager by Garrett Oliver from New York (0,35 l/ 6,80 €) is recommendable with the Irschenberger gekräuterte Wurst, and the classic Currywurst goes very well with a fruity, spicey or tangy sauce and a glass of Progusta, a bitter beer by Dr. Marc Rauschmann. Although patriotic Berliners will probably prefer a freshly drawn Schultheiß from the brightly polished tap.
Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt Charlottenstraße 55, corner of Jägerstraße, Mitte, open daily from 10am, tel. 20 45 40 20, www.augustiner-braeu-berlin.de
Fritz 101 Friedrichstraße 101, Mitte, open daily from 10am, Tel. 306 45 49 80, www.fritz101.de
Hofbräu Berlin Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 30, Mitte, Sun-thu 10am-1am, Fri+Sat 10am-2am, Tel. 23 45 98 20, www.berlin-hofbraeu.de
Das Meisterstück, Hausvogteiplatz 3-4, Mitte, Mon to Sun 10am- 1am, Tel. 55 87 25 62, www.dasmeisterstück.de