The Better Half and I decided to book a weekend trip to Berlin and while he researched all the cool things we had to see and do on our trip, I looked for all the interesting places to eat (of course!). There are dishes synonymous with Germany that I wanted to try like currywurst and schnitzel, but we also wanted to splash out a little on a good meal. Our weekends away often mean we grab things on the go so that we have plenty of time for sightseeing, but as we had a Segway tour booked that would include all the major sights, we had time to indulge ourselves.
After some research I chose to book Hugos at the Inter-Continental Hotel. It’s a one Michelin starred restaurant located on the 14th floor of the hotel, with sweeping views across Berlin. I’m a sucker for a good view! I asked about the name and was told that many years ago the restaurant was located on the ground floor of the hotel and was very rustic. It was named Huguenots after the French Huguenots who occupied the area a few hundred years ago, but when the restaurant was moved to the 14th floor and given an updated look, they shortened the name to fit in with this new style. Incidentally, the restaurant is getting another makeover soon (I had commented to TBH before that it all looked a bit 90’s!).
The restaurant only offers two tasting menus and we chose to go for the 6 courses at €130 per person. When looking at the menu though, each dish had a separate price next to it and what we later realised is that you could order dishes from the tasting menu as an a la carte instead of having the full menu. With all the extra courses it turned out to be a lot of food! Some of the courses were really good – in particular we both loved the vegetarian dish. We found this amusing as we’re both South African and both have massive carnivorous leanings! Some dishes weren’t quite as enjoyable though and all in all, I found the experience just ‘nice’.
While doing my research, time and time again the reviews said how expensive Hugos is. I didn’t take a lot of notice as the currency is different and I wasn’t really comparing apples to apples. But when my bank statement arrived, it came to £270 which included (not that many) drinks and service. Ouch! Thinking back on some meals I have had at Michelin starred restaurants in London, I have had a lot better for a lot less money! Oh well, you live and learn!
Continuing on our culinary tour of Berlin, we both wanted to try currywurst. Not knowing very much about it, we expected it to be a sausage smothered in the same kind of curry sauce you’d get in any chip shop in the UK. Currywurst is found on almost every street corner (in Berlin at least), so we decided to try some from different vendors to see how they varied. Our first one from Currywurst Express was massively disappointing. Basically just a sausage smothered in Heinz tomato ketchup and a sprinkling of curry powder over the top and some very average chips. So far, so meh! If this was what all the fuss was about, then the Germans can keep their currywurst! Our second taste of it came from Hofbräu München Berlin. This is a chain of beer houses that replicate the traditional beer halls of Munich and are absolutely enormous in size – I didn’t hold out much hope for decent food because in my experience, themed bars never place much importance on the food, but how wrong I was! The sauce in this case was a proper curry sauce, with nice thick cut chips. I only wish I wasn’t sharing the portion with The Better Half.
My mom makes an awesome schnitzel and it’s a dish that both TBH and I love. Nostalgia at its best for us. Even though not strictly a German dish, it featured on a lot of restaurant menus I saw. Traipsing around Berlin, a little lost and very hungry, we happened upon a traditional German restaurant called Schildkröte (or Turtle in English – no idea what the connection is as I didn’t see any turtles anywhere!) and as soon as we spotted schnitzel on the menu we quickly went inside. It’s a cute little restaurant that looked really authentic and when our ginormous schnitzels arrived, I knew that we had made a good choice. I ordered the Wiener schnitzel with chips and TBH had the Wiener schnitzel with creamy mushrooms and parsley potatoes. Expertly cooked and reasonably priced, we had a really enjoyable meal and if you’re shopping on the nearby Kurfürstendamm then I highly recommend it.
On our last night we went to Kreuzberg to do a bit of bar-hopping, an area quite similar to Shoreditch in London. Edgy and slightly bohemian, it’s a very cool place to hang out. I asked around on Twitter for any recommendations and one that came up more than once was Burgermeister. Located in a disused toilet under the U-bahn tracks, it’s the last place you would expect to find decent food. But judging by the throngs of people queuing up, I had high hopes and they weren’t misguided. There is a succinct menu and I chose the cheeseburger while TBH went for the chilli cheese burger and we shared a portion of chips with chilli con carne and cheese. The picture does not do it justice. A huge, cheesy, meaty bun of deliciousness. And those chips. OMG! The chilli was rich and the cheese was a sauce instead of just a pile of cheese thrown over the top. I am a chip conniseur and I declare those the tastiest chips I’ve ever had! (This may have been influenced by my alcohol intake at this point!). I just loved the whole experience and I’m told that it’s just as busy at 3am when all the surrounding clubs close. An absolute must for anyone visiting Berlin!
All in all we had a fabulous weekend away. The food not always an absolute hit, but generally pretty enjoyable. It’s a great city and it’s only two hours away. We can’t wait to go back!
Until we eat again!