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Good old Berlin!

Reader Brian Starbuck has just returned from his latest trip to Berlin. Every time he goes there he finds more reasons to like what he finds. This time it is the food.

What is it about the food In Germany? You don’t hear much about it but it’s absolutely brilliant. Here’s a strange experience.

Berlin has a reputation as being quite alternative and edgy but deep in the heart of the most conventional, if opulent, retail surrounding of KaDeWe, the Berlin equivalent of Harrods, lies a little secret that is pretty popular with the locals. On the 6th floor, when we visited surrounded by Christmas offerings, is the Potato Bar. It does exactly what it says – serves food that always has potatoes at the heart of the eating experience.

First find somewhere to sit if you can – a bar stool or hard wooden seat around the cooking arena. Peruse the menu whilst watching the chef prepare potatoes many ways. There are quite a few sophisticated combinations but basically this is food as fuel to keep the retail experience going. Bratkartoffeln – fried potatoes with ham – is a favourite and with a glass of beer is just lovely. Hearty winter food in a most unexpected place. (NB Germany also has a Potato Hotel – ed.)

And then there’s the ice cream. It doesn’t get much more hip than the area of Kreuzberg in Berlin (Neukölln perhaps?) but the coffee shop Fraulein Frost and its Guzimi ice cream (one of many flavours made by the Frost team) does it for me. The Guzimi is composed of cucumber, lemon and mint and it has become perhaps their signature flavour. Great café, great ice cream. Summer heaven.

Unfortunately not every visitor shows the right level of respect and appreciation. On my last visit I was pleased to witness the following exchange which illustrates just how confident Berlin’s restaurants are becoming in what they offer:
American customer (calling across several tables to a waitress): ‘Can I have some garlic bread with that?’
Waitress (calling back): ‘No, that’s Italian.’
Customer: ‘Well, some bread with herbs in then.’
Waitress: ‘No, this is a Prussian restaurant. I will bring you some bread but not with herbs in it. That’s Italian food.’

Berlin, I think I love you.

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