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Berlin: my home away from home, away from home

I am constantly trying to find a home away from home, away from home. I’m constantly trying to run away to somewhere comfy, like Goldilocks trying to work out which is the comfiest bed to sleep in. Berlin has become that place. 

I have been coming to Berlin since 2008; it is my almost twice-yearly pattern. I came here for three months and wrote the first (terrible!) draft of my PhD thesis here, and over the years I have built up a small but wondrous group of friends.

I grew up in Malaysia, New Zealand, and now London is my home and soon to be the place I have lived the longest. At my heart, I am a homebody, a homebody with itchy feet and a need for adventure. And so I calm both urges by visiting Berlin. Berlin is familiar, and yet changes, develops and grows, but hasn’t lost its soul. And so, this is a round up of what my most recent trip looked like, in food and drink, I have a few my favourites, which are asterisked. I stayed most of the time at my friend Sarah’s in Neukolln, which I admit is my favourite neighbourhood.

A night Michelberger Hotel on Warschauer Straße. A beautiful, well designed place. I was late with a deadline so sat in the café, with great coffee and a glass of wine and finished it off. Dinner at their restaurant was delicious, and I ate a lot - €56, including a few glasses of wine. Loved it, all of it!

Monkey bar, a top the 25hour hotel. Go at sunset, see the view, this Berlin glamour (but because it’s Berlin it’s still relaxed). Avoid the weekends. I went with the cool kids Sarah and Rachel – these Berlin ladies are amazing and along with Natalie, are why I keep coming back.

Neni is the restaurant half of the floor. I hated the design of the menu, I couldn’t work out how to order from it. Luckily, my patient friend Adrian understood - it’s basically family style eating. It’s the sort of place were the service was on point, food is delicious and the wine list is small and good, that you just relax – e.g. no food photos taken, too busy having a great time! The pricing was also pretty good for the quality and amount - €88 for two, including a bottle of Mosel Riesling.  

Early morning stroll for a great cortador at Espera on Sonnenalle, with a thick slice of banana bread that had mighty chunks of chocolate.

Quick coffee at Bully’s on Weserstrabe. I wrote so much of that first draft of my PhD here, it’s an obligatory stop by. It seems they’ve stopped making their flamkuchen, sadly, but their cakes are great.

Café 2 by 2 – a French café with Japanese twist. Lovely coffee, great little pastries. I had the most gorgeous melt-in-your-mouth pastry on a mini quiche.

Berlin has such a great attitude for pushing at boundaries and has a such a great creative, and youthful crowd that I felt like it would be really fun to try a new Berlin one star. Richard was classic cooking, mainly faultless, completely unmemorable. It was white table clothes and sweet service. I was so disappointed. It didn’t respond to it’s environment. It could have been anywhere in the world – and yet, it was in East Berlin, on the Spree where there are big night clubs and parties on the ‘beach’ in summer. It lacked all that vivaciousness that Berlin can offer.

Quick breakfast on the go of Espero coffee and Croissant from Crossitele on Pannierstraße, they have every croissant that you could dream up. I had two, buttery goodness.

Friday night
Best night out in ages. The Weserstrasse bar wander.
Firstly, start at Vin Aqua Vin. It’s as grown up as you can be in Neukolln, the selection is fantastic. The two others beside are also super cute.
Then dinner at Beuster. Aim for about 8.30pm (you can also book if you’re organised) We sat at the bar, the bartender was brilliant – super smiley, really fun. The menu is simple, but good, gastro pub vibe, with classic Berlin bar feel. You could stay there all night…
Next, walk out left along Weserstrasse, to is a little steamed up window, with a door. It has no name, but it does have a mural of the Battersea powerstation on the wall. Go in!
Then TheLonious – a cocktail bar. This is new, it’s Neukolln being fancy, and it’s nice. As the night is nearing a close, a quick nightcap at Kuschlowski. It’s like someone’s front living room with a feeling anything can happen – this is what I think of, when I think of Berlin.

*Lokal, in Mitte, if I had a restaurant this would be it. The design is beautiful, simple and warm. The service is charming and oh, so knowledgeable. The food is hearty, but clever. And, all the wines by the glass. I love wine, and trying as much as possible of ones I don’t know. This is particularly important with German wine, as the labels don’t give much away to the non-German speaker– so this wine list structure was my heaven.
A neighbourhood restaurant that you would travel the city for; or in my case, travel the continent for. I have found my home away from home. I could wax lyrical – but just go and see for yourself. Do book. €112 for two.

*Romers for breakfast. Get there at opening (10am), people line up. This places is so cute, and the food is fantastic, with the likes of great bread, homemade hummus, wonderful salmon; beautiful produce cooked and seasoned perfectly. I had major food envy over French toast I saw another table order - so that will have to be next time.
The staff are super, they are working non-stop from open to close and yet, every time I popped in there, for my lunch, passing coffees, to this Sunday morning breakfast – smiles and cheerfulness!

Wish I had made, but ran out of time, or didn’t book in time!
Soupe Poplulair – he has other, michlein star places, I would like to have tried is other restaurants too.
Pauly Saal - for lunch, in the courtyard! 
And the little cafe in the same building beside Pauly Saal 
Industry Standard
Codobar – Wine bar in Mitte
Eins 44

Various photos from the week and my spots. 

My map of Friday night ;)


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