While traditional German food is hearty and delicious, the country’s dining experience has not always been recognised for its originality or finesse. This is now changing, particularly in Berlin, where the city’s restaurant scene rivals that of Europe’s more established gastronomic capitals. The German capital’s food is rapidly becoming as original and groundbreaking as the art and fashion for which it is already famous.
Thanks to Berlin’s cultural diversity, it offers a wide range of international restaurants that will impress even the most adventurous eaters, served in an impressively wide variety of venues, from high-end Michelin-starred establishments to quirky, colourful street-food cafés. New openings are frequent, and chefs from around the world have found a warm welcome for distinctive styles that range from classic French, Italian and Swiss to Asian, Japanese and Nordic. Whatever you prefer, you’re sure to find it in Berlin – and this might also be the trip when you discover some entirely new favourites.
This bright, colourful Mitte hotspot is the place to go for ‘modern traditional Indian food’. The house speciality is the dosa, a South Indian style pancake served with a variety of fillings, side dishes and, of course, chutney. The chefs draw on local and organic produce wherever possible, and recognise the importance of great quality ingredients, which is why they use, for example, free-range chicken and organic eggs. Vegetarians are in for a treat in the form of the Mean Green Paneer Dosa, which is packed with pepper, onions and paneer (Indian cheese) marinated in green chutney and then pan-seared. Meatier offerings include the Keema Mattar Dosa, a spicy combination of minced lamb, green peas and fresh mint. There’s also a selection of rice bowls, made fresh to order, and even a Nutella and banana dosa for dessert.
Chutnify, Sredzkistrasse 43, 10435 Berlin, +49 (0)30 4401 0795
Already a success in Brooklyn, New York, Zenkichi has opened its second branch in Berlin. Decorated with dark wood, bamboo, granite and black pebbles, this intimate Japanese brasserie offers cosy booths for group dining. A variety of salads and tempura vegetables makes Zenkichi a good option for vegetarians. That said, the standout from the menu has to be the sashimi selection, particularly the wonderfully fresh oysters and the black cod, which is faultlessly cooked and flavourful. Expect something a little different from the dessert menu, including black sesame ice cream. The restaurant claims the widest selection of premium sake in Berlin.
Zenkichi, Johannisstrasse 20, 10117 Berlin, +49 (0)30 2463 0810
Crackers, the sister venue of famous Berlin bar and restaurant Cookies and Cream, adopts a similar concept, and offers live music nights and a fantastic cocktail menu. The atmosphere is buzzing every night of the week and the menu is a mix of classics such as beef entrecôte with pepper jus and pickled vegetables, and imaginative fish dishes that might include monkfish fillet with root vegetables, aniseed and citrus stock. Dishes such as Portobello mushroom tempura with mashed sweet potato, tandoori and wild herbs make great vegetarian options. After 8pm, Crackers becomes more lively, so visitors who want to concentrate on the food might consider dining early. Desserts are a must, with the berry cheesecake particularly recommended.
Crackers, Friedrichstrasse 158, 10117 Berlin, +49 (0)30 6807 30488
Pauly Saal, a classic fixture on Berlin’s dining scene, is well known for its gourmet menu of beautifully presented dishes with an original, modern German touch. Dishes might include interesting flavour combinations such as kale served with mustard, pumpkin, spelt and langoustine, or veal with Jerusalem artichoke, chervil and lavender. The immaculately elegant interior décor is reminiscent of the 1960s and includes an eye-catching sculpture of a rocket and a retro wooden bar. The outdoor terrace is perfect for summer days – and evenings too. The restaurant’s owners have opened a second venue, the Nordic-inspired Dóttir on Mittelstrasse, which is a charming venue for lunch.
Pauly Saal, Auguststrasse 11-13, 10117 Berlin, +49 (0)30 3300 6070