Category Archives: Berlin

Berlin, Germany: Burgermeister, Kreuzberg

I value time alot more when we travel. While there are times I don’t mind going out of the way for food, most times, I make it a point to seek out good spots just around the areas where I would be visiting and work those into the itinerary. To me, it beats spending time on commuting to and fro locations and allows me more time to enjoy the city better.

Burgermeister was one of those places I knew I could work into the itinerary easily. It is close by to the East Side Gallery which is the longest part of the Berlin Wall left). A late morning in Berlin could start off with a jaunt down the Gallery (start off at the Ostbahnhof S-Bahn, walk towards the river for about 8-10 minutes till you hit the wall; you won’t miss it), stroll along the walls filled with art till you hit the Oberbaumbrucke bridge on your right. Cross the bridge, and while doing so, look out for the Molecule Men on the river. Once you get past the bridge, look up ahead towards the right for the U-bahn tracks. Follow them for about 5 minutes till you see Burgermeister, which is literally just below the tracks.

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Cute trabi spotted just in front of Burgermeister

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The counter to place your order

Burgermeister has a super casual and fuss-free vibe. You either stand around to eat, perch yourself on a high bar, or sit on their very cool crate-chairs.

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Meet Burgermeister’s Chilli Cheeseburger (3.80 euros)! Thick juicy beef patty, with cheese, tomato, lettuce and jalapenos.

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Pardon the bite marks, but I’m sure you wanted to see the cross-section. Oh, not pictured, but there are bottles of tabasco for use on the table if you needed that extra kick.

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We also ordered a plate of cheese fries (1.90 euros) and an icy cold fritz-limo cola to wash it all down. If you’re wondering why this is all we had, it’s because we had a pretty filling breakfast at Oliv Cafe.

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Fritz-limo, a brand under Hamburg’s Fritz-kola, comes in many flavours. This particular flavour we had was cloudy sparkling apple, which is carbonated water mixed with apple juice. It’s also called Apfelschorle or AppelSaftSchorle in German, and turns out is a super popular beverage in the country.

Apparently Fritz-limo uses only real juice and none of the chemical crap. Both A and I loved it! In fact, we were trying to hunt it down in supermarkets thereafter and just couldn’t find this particular brand.  So if you like it, try a couple more flavours that are available at Burgermeister.

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Burgermeister’s concise menu features a handful of burgers including the good old hamburger and a BBQ burger. My bets are any of those would be just as good as the cheeseburger we had.

Burgermeister,
Oberbaumstraße 8, 10997 Berlin
U1 Schlesisches Tor
Mon to Thur 11am-2am
Fri and Sat 11am-4am
Sun 3pm-2am

– S

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Berlin, Germany: Monsieur Vuong, Mitte

I recall us being really tired from an entire day of walking and my lousy pair of walking shoes didn’t help (lesson learnt!). Given Monsieur Vuong was highlighted as a recommended restaurant on our trusty Sandeman’s map, we decided to give it a go. Plus, I vaguely remember having come across the Vietnamese restaurant’s name  a number of times during my pre-trip research but at that point didn’t give too much thought to it since I thought we would be more inclined to hunt down German pork knuckles and sausages.

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Monsieur Vuong was packed both indoors and outdoors by the time we got there. There was even a short line which was surprising for us especially since we hardly saw a queue anywhere in Berlin save for tourist sites. We were pretty lucky as we were ushered indoors immediately when they learnt there were only just the two of us. It was a bit of a squeeze, to be honest, and everyone was seated shoulder to shoulder but clearly no one was too bothered.
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Deep red, pink and orange walls coupled with warm lighting made the Vietnamese restaurant feel much more upscale than your usual pho joint. We decided to go straight for the mains after flipping through the simple menu, ordering the Pho Hanoi (large size at 7.90 euros) and Glass Noodle Chicken Salad (large size at 7.20 euros).
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Pho Hanoi

Have I mentioned soup is one major thing I crave for whenever I’m on holiday? The Pho Hanoi was exactly what I was craving. I really appreciated how the soup was light (not oily) yet flavourful. The mixture of spring onions, mint leaves, ginger, beansprouts and fried shallots was extremely refreshing. If I had to nitpick, the chicken breast slices were slightly tough and I wish they were marinated better. The soup, though, more than made up for it.

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Glass Noodle Chicken Salad

Well let’s just say the Glass Noodle Chicken Salad wasn’t exactly the most photogenic of dishes. But what did mama say? Don’t judge a book by its cover. Turned out I absolutely adored the Glass Noodle Chicken Salad! Julienned carrots, purple cabbage, beansprouts, chicken breast meat, fried shallots and glass noodles in a concoction of fish sauce, tamarind, lime and sugar. Tangy, savoury all at the same time. I told the Hubbs, “we need to recreate this at home please!”.

Still peckish and rather delighted at how the dishes were turning out, we decided to order another main. Very greedy, I know. This time we asked if the waitress had any recommendations. She said there were some specials that weren’t on the menu and starting rattling off some of them. We settled for the Caramelised Pork with Rice Noodles (8.40 euros).

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Caramelised Pork with Rice Noodles

So glad we were greedy as this was the clear winner! Rice noodles, black sesame seeds, beansprouts, spring onions and sesame oil topped with thin slices of caramelised pork with its juices.

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Service was extremely brisk but not brusque. Monsieur Vuong is definitely not a place to chill/linger; diners were there to have a great meal and adjourn elsewhere for drinks. By the time we left, there was a long line outside which really says something given we hadn’t seen any food place this packed in Berlin.

I didn’t realise how much I enjoyed Vietnamese food till I met Monsieur Vuong.

Monsieur Vuong
Alte Schönhauser Straße 46
10119 Berlin
030 9929-6924
Nearest train stations: Rosa-Luxemburg Platz

– S

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Berlin, Germany: Santa Maria, Kreuzberg

We have Sam to thank for recommending this amazing Mexican diner with us. Sam was our tour guide for both the Sandeman’s tours we took in Berlin – one for the free city tour and the other for the Potsdam tour.  Sam is intelligent, friendly and funny and should you go on one of Sandeman’s very popular tours, I hope you have him as a tour guide. The Hubbs was initially hoping we would get the cute Aussie girl but I’m pretty sure he didn’t regret having Sam afterall too.

But I digress.

Back to The Amazing Mexican Diner. On the way back from Potsdam, Sam asked if we had needed any recommendations for dinner and we said yes. Next thing we knew, we had circled Santa Maria on the Sandeman’s map and made plans to have dinner there after a visit to the DDR museum.

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Santa Maria is located in Kreuzberg, an area filled with restaurants, cafes and watering holes. The restaurant  is approximately a ten-minute walk from the Moritzplatz station. We arrived at about 7.30pm and the restaurant was about half-filled.

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The cooking station is right next to the entrance. Simple wooden tables and chairs surround the bar – the focal point of the cozy casual diner. Just above the bar, bulbs with vegetable box graters for lampshades drop from the ceiling. Behind, blackboards hang against the wall announcing the mainstays of Santa Maria’s menu. If you need WIFI access, the password is in plain view on the board at the counter.

Our food took a long time to be served, which wasn’t surprising given there were only two wait staff and one chef manning the entire diner (as lean as Oliv Cafe’s team). Nevertheless, service was earnest and attentive.

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Margaritas were 4 euros each as it was Happy Hour. The Hubbs had a Hibiscus Mint Magarita made with lemon and lime juice, hibiscus, triple sec and tequila, served in a sugar-rimmed glass, to start the meal. I didn’t particularly enjoy it and neither did the Hubbs but we’re not big on alkie to begin with.

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We jumped right into mains. I had a quesadilla stuffed with chicken (7 euros) and a side of guacamole (2 euros). The quesadilla made from homemade flour tortilla was grilled to a crisp on the outside and stuffed with braised tender juicy chicken breast. I could taste the tomatoes, chillies, garlic and red onion that the meat was probably stewed in. I also really loved the side of creamy yet refreshingly tangy guacamole.

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The Hubbs had the chilaquiles (6 euros) made of homemade corn tortilla chips cooked in spicy red salsa. This came with a dollop of cold creme fraiche, sheep’s cheese, onion and a sunny-side up. This was again very delicious and satisfying. Some bits were still crunchy, but most of it was soaked in the flavours of the sauce, cheese and also eventually the runny yolk.

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As you can see below, we were very happy campers who licked our plates clean.

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Each table had two little jars of red and green salsas as condiments

I was so very pleased with the quality of the dishes that despite being pretty stuffed, convinced my tummy and the Hubbs to share a dessert. There were only two options on the menu and the quesadilla with banana and nutella filling (5.50 euros) spoke to me. This came with a Kahlua reduction, a topping of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of nuts. The flavours melded happily together and I was extremely glad we made space in our tummies for it.

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We left Santa Maria fulfilled and very satiated. With such hearty good food and uber reasonable prices to boot, I can see us being regulars at Santa Maria… if only we lived in Berlin.

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Santa Maria
Oranienstrasse 170
Berlin
Mon-Sun: 12pm to 2am
+49 30/92210027
U bhf Kottbusser Tor (U8 and U1)

– S

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Berlin, Germany: Oliv Cafe, Mitte

Truth be told, I wasn’t very psyched about the food scene in Germany. In preparation for my trip to Berlin and Munich, I did a lot of googling to suss out if there were any recommendations or reviews. Of course, there were the usual ones on currywurst featuring the usual suspects like Curry 36, Konnopke’s Imbiss and Witty’s at Ka De We’s. I did go to Witty’s but… it’s a hotdog with curry powder on it, so unless I have some time to burn, you won’t be reading about it here. Here’s my little contribution of a review on Oliv Cafe in Berlin to the WWW which I hope will prove useful should you ever decide to visit the uber chill and artsy city.

Oliv Cafe is located in the Mitte district filled with trendy boutiques. It came up in the googling and having realised our hotel was pretty close by, we decided to head for breakfast there one morning. We were also very lucky to chance upon the main Freitag store (address right below) on our leisurely stroll towards the cafe. We arrived at Oliv Cafe at about 9.15am to be greeted with a ‘No Guts No Glory’ sign in chalk on a tiny blackboard and upon entering the spacious cafe, found the same words, this time outlined by fluorescent tubes on the main wall.

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Oliv Cafe exudes a warm, relaxed and chic vibe. Its interior features clean lines and successfully matches a black and concrete colour swatch with a long wooden dining table. One could also opt to sit outdoors, against their tall glass windows to watch the fashionable Mitte crowd go by.
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There were only three staff manning the cafe, but service was seamless, smooth and their chemistry was great to watch. One took orders, made coffee, dished out the pastries and collected payment, the other was rolling out dough to make more pastries and mixing salads. The last and the only lady ran around getting people seated, taking orders and serving people their food. We took a corner spot right next to the window and ordered the quark cheesecake and the quiche lorraine which came with a tiny serving of salad. The creamy quiche studded with bacon bits certainly didn’t disappoint. We also satisfied our craving for a full bodied, robust latte macchiato.

The quark cheesecake was quite unlike the usual cheesecakes I am used to. Its texture was crumbly instead of creamy, and taste-wise, it was not too sweet and had a base that was made of crushed muesli instead of the usual crushed biscuits.

I highly recommend Oliv Cafe if you’re looking for a place to rest your feet after a little credit card exercise in the boutiques in the Mitte district. Oliv Cafe also stocks Kusmi Tea which is apparently all the rage in Paris.

Oliv Cafe
Münzstrasse 8, Mitte, Berlin, Germany
+49 30 8920 6540, oliv-cafe.de.
Mon-Fri 8.30am-7pm, Sat 9.30am-7pm, Sun 10am-6pm
Cash only

Freitag
Max-Beer-Strasse 3  10119 Berlin, Germany

– S


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