Bar Gagarin

I have been crazy busy lately! Between travel and work and nonsense, I haven’t brunched in a minute. So it was lovely to have the whole crew back together again. I was joined by my two favorite couples: Fanni and Robin (the brunchfluencer is back!) and Leo and Francesca.

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Fanni and Robin! Robin and I were successful in our endeavor, but everyone else at the table made better life choices.

We originally had ruled this place out because you know about my stance on buffets (never a good idea, but at brunch it’s an abomination) and we thought it was a buffet. But instead it was a delightfully, german style, russian breakfast.

While Fanni very reasonably got her own plate, Robin and I and Leo and Francesca each split the breakfast plate for two. I may never eat again. It is the best bang for your buck that I’ve ever found in Berlin.

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Francesca claims that Italians are not passionate, and that she’s a very even keel person. She then went on to tell us about her temper. These two remain some of my favorite brunch partners.

I looked at the pile of food and was doubtful of our abilities to consume it all. But Robin never faltered in his belief in our ability. And in the end, we were triumphant. Leo and Francesca were less ambitious/made healthier life choices.

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Robin and I were VICTORIOUS!

Quality: 70.5 %

Overall quality-  While the food was plentiful, it wasn’t all exceptional. The salmon was good, and the flavors on the plate blended well. It was even nicely divided between savory and sweet. But it lacked an overall quality that we usually look for.

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The savory side of the plates.

Eggs- This was the low point for everyone except Fanni. Apparently her scrambled eggs were well cooked! But the hard boiled eggs were too hard boiled, and we all know how I feel about over cooked eggs.  

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Fanni’s more sensible meal.

Dessert- The best breakfast dessert we’ve had in Berlin (personal opinion, not backed up by the data). There was a custard almond thingy that we devoured. There was also some cottage cheese pancake thing, that Robin said his grandmother used to make for him when he was sick. Apparently they are delicious when hot and drowning in oil.

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The sweet side of our plates.

Beverages: 72 %

This is the best decaf coffee I’ve tried in Berlin. Hands down.

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Francesca loved the juice, and the rest of the group was appropriately satisfied with their beverage choices.

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Carrot, apple and some other stuff. Francesca’s delightful juice.

Presentation: 75 %

I feel like it would be difficult to display this quantity of food in anything but a lovely manner. It really looked like a very German breakfast plate, which isn’t my normal brunch go to. But it looked lovely.

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Well presented, massive proportions of breakfast foods. A very Russian brunch.

Diversity: 66 %

Although we all got the same thing, there were a fair number of options on the menu. Possibly too many.

Ambiance: 66.5 %

The table was great, the food took a little too long, and the lighting was natural and lovely. BUT the music was WAY too loud. We could barely hear each other. If Ben was there it simply would have been a disaster.

Overall Score: 70.19 %

Price: 13.00

 

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Cafe Mugrabi

Another week, another brunch. In all seriousness, I’m not sure I’m ever going to tire of this blog.

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Helena: first time Brunchenburger: long time bruncher

But my friend Helena and Swanko (preferred name for this post, his choice not mine) have never joined me for brunch, and so we met up at Helena’s choice location, Cafe Mugrabi in Kreuzberg. It has never been on my radar as places I wanted to try, but as it was Helena’s first time, she got to decide where we brunched. I was pleasantly surprised! And it ranked higher than I anticipated. Oh, the power of data.

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The one. The only. Swanko.

Also, Sid joined us because he’s become a proper brunch addict.

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Daydreamy Sid.

On to the review!

Quality: 83.33 %

Overall quality- The dishes were really well balanced. We all got something different and we were almost all satisfied. Swanko noted that the spice was not just “German-level” spicy. I am an unabashed spice wimp (I’m from New England, we consider salt spicy), and I can confirm. We ordered a tahini dip with bread for an appetizer (brunch appetizer! It’s my new thing!), and it had a delicious looking pesto green sauce in the middle. Do not be fooled. This is not pesto, and it burns with the intensity of the surface of the sun. And Swanko thought it was spicy too.

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That green stuff is NOT pesto. Approach with caution.

Eggs- BOY were these poorly cooked. And I mean REALLY poorly cooked. Mine were so overdone, it was an embarrassment to poached eggs the world over. If you are a fan of well cooked eggs (and we all know I am), then avoid these.

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Well balanced dish! Those eggs though… ugh!

Beverages: 85 %

The coffee and lattes were worth raving about. Sid got a turkish coffee that he proclaimed was at least twice as good as the food (“and the food was fucking excellent”). No decaf (le sigh), but strong fans from the caffeine drinking crowd.

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Sid and Helena RAVED about the coffee.

The mimosa however was sub par. The prosecco to orange juice ratio was WAY off. Truth be told, I’m not sure there was any prosecco at all in my mimosa. Which makes it just an overpriced orange juice (unacceptable).

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Honestly, I’m not sure there is any prosecco in there at all.

Presentation: 96.66 %

The dishes looked lovely, both the food and the beverages. It spoke of the balancedness of the meal, and the outdoor seating/natural lighting really helped.

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Not the best presentation, but still a lovely dish.

Diversity: 91.66 %
BOY what a menu. We each got something different and didn’t even break the surface. I am curious to try a few more things, and as a result will likely be back here again.

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We all got something different and barely scratched the surface of the possible options.

Ambiance: 73.33 %

Nice quiet street, right across from a park, lovely outdoor seating. The table was a disaster, too low, wobbly and generally unacceptable. And the service was bad (Das ist Berlin), but generally it was a pleasant way to pass a Sunday morning. I wished we all had more time to linger (and that’s after we lingered there for 2 hours).

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Not the best looking plate, but not the worst food.

Would happily return!

Overall Score: 85 %

Price: 14

 

Neumond

I lost a bet. I told Malte (who you’ll remember from the first time I went to Le Bon), that football was coming home. In general i like to remain impartial during the World Cup (like any good fan of the officials should), but I got swept up in the fervor and bet a brunch that England would win the World Cup. But it turns out my belief in Harry Kane was misplaced.

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The winner of this bet, waiting for me

Because it was winner’s choice, Malte picked Neumond, in Mitte. I like to joke around about how I tend to prefer brunch locations near my apartment, for good “roll out of bed-ability”. But I think that might ACTUALLY be why Malte choose this place.

However, it managed to score really high on all the areas that I don’t care about (diversity, ambiance, presentation) but low in the area I really do look for in a good brunch place (quality, hollandaise and beverages).

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Malte, dressed for the weekend

The company wasn’t the worst, but the food left a lot to be desired. Now, on to the reviews:

 

Quality: 36.67 %

Overall quality- We had two courses, breakfast tapas (surprisingly delightful! We should have gotten more of these), and main courses. Please know the two course structure of the meal was discussed when we made the bet, Malte was not taking advantage of my love of appetizers. The main dishes (omlet for Malte, eggs benedict for me) completely lacked flavor. Worse than Father Carpenter’s. It was astounding how bad it was.

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By far the best part of the meal, the breakfast tapas.

But again, for emphasis, the breakfast tapas were really good. I wouldn’t mind going back and trying more of those.

Eggs- The eggs were quite possibly the worst I’ve had in Berlin. The scrambled eggs were over cooked, the poached eggs were so undercooked, I’m not sure they even saw boiling water. The egg white was entirely uncooked. Entirely. I like runny eggs, I had to stop eating at some point because my eggs were running off my plate.

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Malte’s omelet

Hollandaise sauce- Talk about no flavor! I was a few bites into the meal before I realized that the hollandaise lacked anything. No interesting substance, it didn’t contribute to the meal at all. I wasn’t even sure it was there, but I double checked and indeed it was. Just lacked… anything really.

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You can actually see the under poached egg trying to flee from the plate.

 

Beverages: 50 %

Decaf coffee! But bad decaf coffee. I feel like I’m reaching for the stars here. I just want a good decaf latte Berlin. Just one.

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Sub par decaf coffee!

Malte wasn’t particularly impressed with his mediocre fully caffeinated latte, rounding out our distaste of the whole beverage experience.

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Sub-par fully caffinated coffee

 

Presentation: 100%

The food looked great! When I went to take a picture, the passing owner mentioned that we should post it and tag them on instagram. I could see why! But it didn’t taste as good as it looked.

 

Diversity: 100%

So many options (not as many as Benedict), and I regret not trying more of the breakfast tapas. Maybe worth another trip. Avoid the mains though.

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Ambiance: 80%

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The interior is adorable, the lighting is soft and perfect. The location means that there’s very little noise from the street and makes for excellent conversation. The table was too small, and embraced style over function (no!), but other than that, it was an overall pleasant brunch.

Just needed better food.

Overall Score: 59.58 %

Price: 19.50

 

Benedict

It was Natasha’s birthday! Ish. It was Natasha’s ish birthday. So we went to brunch!

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By that I mean two things: 1) Natasha’s birthday was a week later but she was planning on being out of town so we celebrated before and 2) we are always looking for an excuse to brunch. Always.

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Moreover, Natasha has been dying to go to Benedicts for some time now. And since it was her birthday, Leo, Francesca, Sid and Natasha’s friend joined us. Finally, because this is pretty busy place normally we went to brunch at an abnormal time. Benedicts is open 24 hours a day (new favorite 24 hour place, honestly better than any club could possibly be), so we went for a 17:00 brunch.

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And it was surprisingly delightful.

Quality: 83.33%

Overall quality- We all got different varieties of eggs benedict (with one exception), and given that the restaurant is named “Benedict”, we had high expectations. They were not met. The overall plate was not well balanced, with the ratio of bread (too dry), hollandaise and eggs etc. very off. However, the taste overall was good.

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And more importantly (and why the score is so high) was the dessert. And by dessert, I mean we ordered pancakes after we were done with our eggs benedict. Moreover, we mentioned it was Natasha’s birthday, so they put candles on our pancakes. Francesca, Natasha and I split the banana pancakes, which had coconut flakes and condensed milk on them (delish) and Leo and Sid split the chocolate pancakes. We were all enthusiastically pleased. It almost made up for the dodginess of the eggs benedict.

But the place is named Benedict, so we expected more from the eggs benedict.

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Eggs- Perfectly cooked, both the scrambled eggs on the avocado bagel (as we know from Shakespeare and Sons, bagels are always better than toast, and so by extension, avocado bagels are always better than avocado toast), and the poached eggs in the benedict were perfectly cooked.

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Hollandaise sauce- A little thicker than I would normally like. The flavor was good, but the texture was off. However, the biggest problem was the quantity. There was barely enough to cover the eggs, let alone the VERY dry bread. In general, I object to eggs benedict that are made on toast, but this was especially dry and a bit too much. If you go, plan on getting extra hollandaise on the side.

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Beverages: 76.25 %

All the meals come with a free mimosa, which comes in a variety of flavors (lychee, orange, pineapple, peach and something with kir royale). They look lovely! However, a few small things: 1) they used sparkling riesling instead of champagne (lame) 2) the orange juice wasn’t orange juice, it was orange flavored water. Like koolaid, or tang.

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However, they brought a free round because it was Natasha’s Birthday-ish. Not just a free drink for her, but for the whole table. Which was awesome, and made us like the mimosas more (it could be because the more you drink the less judgy you are about what you’re drinking. This is just a fact).

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The latte was delicious, one of the best in town. And it looked delightful.

Presentation: 88.33 %

Ok, the meals all looked really cool. Great for instagramming, which could be why it has such a strong following.

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Diversity: 95 %

Benedicts along with Rose Garden bring up the question of “how much choice is too much choice?” However, unlike the Rose Garden, all the options look really good. Although we were all drawn to the eggs benedict, after the pancake dessert, I want to come back and try the rest of the menu.

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Ambiance: 80.83 %

The music was a bit loud and way weird. I was able to hear everyone, but if Ben would have been there, we wouldn’t have been able to have anything remotely resembling a conversation. The table was lovely and the lighting was sufficient. I am curious how this place is at 3am, and I hope to at some point find out.

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Point of this story is that it was not the best, but arguably not the worst. And importantly, worth a second visit.

Overall Score: 84.22 %

Price: 16.83

 

 

Anna’s Place

You may have noticed by now that my co-workers have gotten into the brunch game. And as I was mentioning this very blog during a ladies night dinner and my co-worker Anna mentioned that she makes a mean brunch. And she wanted to see how she ranks compared to the rest of Berlin. And then she invited me to brunch (this is really the only requirement in my life to get me to brunch… just an invitation), along with the other ladies from work.

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The excellent chef herself. Apparently she also does amazing cakes.

So, Taryn, Veronica, Kertu, Vanaja and Kelley (who is joining Robin as a serious brunchfluencer). Also, Anna’s husband was subtly sitting at the end of the table “working” (playing video games) and slowly consuming all the food that wasn’t eaten by the ladies at the table. Given how good Anna’s food was I’m not surprised at all.

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Veronica and Vanaja enjoying the rosé prosecco.

Although it’s not available to the general public, here’s Anna’s brunch!

Quality: 85 %

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The french toast.

Overall quality- Delicious. Really really delicious. The main was two-fold, first french toast (lovely) and second chorizo eggs. The french toast was well textured and had really good overall flavor. But what really stole the show were the salads. Watermelon, mint and goat cheese was particularly special, but the caprese was also quite nice.

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Watermelon, mint and goat cheese, my favorite salad of the summer so far.

Eggs- Solidly done, but could have been fluffier. The chorizo and peppers were a lovely touch.

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The eggs, baked with chorizo and peppers.

Dessert- Anna understands that breakfast dessert should be a thing and she nailed it. Fruit with yogurt and banana bread with maple syrup (that would rival Le Bon, my current favorite breakfast dessert).

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I didn’t get a photo of the banana bread, but these were delicious (Anna even made one lactose free for Kelley, it’s that attention to detail).

Beverages: 68.33 %

Here’s where she was hit the hardest. The coffee left most people disappointed.

However, the low scores from the coffee were partially balanced out by the really high quality rosé prosecco, and the lovely mimosas. There was 

Presentation: 85 %

Anna Killed it. The presentation was better than Mana and Weisse Villa combined. Seriously professional looking. 

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A lovely spread, the bread was homemade as well.

Diversity: 83.33 %

An amazing spread, especially for an at home brunch. It was almost to the level of a full on buffet, but didn’t have so many options that I felt too full. It was just right.

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The caprese salad, one of the many items that migrated to Adam’s end of the table to never return.

Ambiance: 81.92 %

The company was excellent, the table was massive and well laid, the lighting was natural and delightful. And the cook was amazing, as well as the company.

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Overall if you get this invite I highly recommend going.

Overall Score: 82.32 %

Price: FREE! Well, free for the guests.

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Wolfie was on loan for the weekend, and so he joined us. This “puppy” is actually a 13 year old pupper.

No Fire No Glory

Robin and I met up for brunch with no plans (this is abnormal for me). We attempted to go to a place that has rave reviews and has been on my radar for awhile. But like most places with rave reviews, it was busy. We arrived and were told that we wouldn’t even be seated for an hour. That was simply unacceptable, so we went across the street to No Fire No Glory, where we were seated right away (the place with the rave reviews we’ll go to sometime soon, so until then it shall remain nameless).

We were both in the mood for a relaxing and easy brunch and relaxing was what we got. However, we might have been served faster if we had just waited at the first place. In fact, the staff at No Fire No Glory might have actually been rushing the food in from somewhere else. It took over an hour after ordering for us to get food… which is a bit long, don’t you think?

However, the food is really quite tasty if you are willing to wait. On to the review!

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Our second choice for the morning: No Fire No Glory

Quality: 80 %

Overall quality- I really enjoyed my meal, salmon benedict, thoroughly. Robin liked his pancakes, but they suffered from 1) being too thin (4 pancakes for the thickness of 1) and 2) drowning in syrup. Seriously, it was approximately a 4 to 1 syrup to pancake ratio. Actually, now that you mention it, maybe they had enough syrup for normal sized pancakes, and then just made thin pancakes. At any rate, the ratio was way off.

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Syrup with pancakes! The ratio is noticeably off.

Eggs- Well cooked, perfectly poached. This is the 3rd set of perfectly poached eggs I found in Berlin (along with Common Grounds and Le Bon). Definitely a highlight.

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My dish was lovely! Surprisingly enough hollandaise.

Hollandaise sauce- One of these are true: the amount of hollandaise sauce was perfect of I’m beginning to get used to the amount that is doled out in Europe. Either way, this was delicious and well portioned.

Beverages: 92.5 %

There was no decaf coffee (BOOOO) and although chai tea was on the menu it turns out they didn’t make it in summer (BOOOOOOOOO). So we both got juices. They were delicious. A mango lassi type drink that wasn’t too thick and very flavorful, and a apple, carrot, ginger blend that reminded me of my favorite juice in my favorite cafe in Halle.

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Juice and “smoothie” that was very juice like. Both were delicious.

Presentation: 65 %

See about about the syrup tsunami that Robin faced. It’s hard to find things that are good looking when all you see is sticky syrup.

Please note: the syrup permeated everything including: reviews, table, napkins, and likely, my clothes for the next few washes.

Diversity: 57.5 %

Only three options, and we got the two good looking ones. It’s unlikely I’ll come back here anytime soon.

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This was the most comfortable chair I have sat in in a long LONG time. So much so I felt inspired to photograph it. It made the waiting 1 hour for our food more enjoyable.

Ambiance: 52.5 %

We sat outside, which was nice. The table was tiny and only 3 legged (for reduced stability), and the noise was low. But the real problem with this category is that the food took so long to get to us. Almost made brunch not worth it.

Overall Score: 73.44 %

Price: 16.00

 

Weisse Villa

I have a coworker (let’s call him: ze German) who Robin and I ran into on our way back from Roamers. He was surprised we brunch so often. We were surprised that he was also returning from brunch.

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Weisse Villa on a decidedly not sunny day.
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Mugglesee, my first Berlin lake experience! I’ll be back, hopefully in sunnier climates.

So he offered to have his down to where he lives for brunch. I assumed it was Schoenberg, or something similarly far away (I’m looking at you Mana). But no. It was much further. Apparently there are lakes around Berlin, and I say “apparently” because I haven’t been yet. Until now. Ze German lives near Mügglesee and so we went down and brunched at an old mansion type home right on the lake.

Kelley joined me, as well as my other coworker Sylvia and her SO Peter. Ze German brought his lovely lady friend and their beyond adorable pup Rudi.

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Sylvia inspecting the breakfast choices of her companion Peter.

Quality: 51.25 %

Overall quality- This is the most German brunch I have ever seen. It is a proper buffet, with deep fried things, lots of unidentifiable cheeses and meats and a plenty of bread. Lots and lots of bread. Again, similar to Mana, I am not in general a fan of buffets. Just because it’s all you can eat, doesn’t’ mean it’s all you should eat.

But if you’re into a hearty German breakfast, than this place is heaven. And judging by the many MANY people who were enjoying their Sunday brunch as well, it is heaven to many. Just not our crowd (expats, I tell you!)

Eggs- The mustard eggs were odd (I can’t really explain what happened there… ) but the scrambled eggs were surprisingly good! I haven’t had scrambled eggs at a buffet that were quite that good ever. Impressive!

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A very German brunch. The eggs are surprisingly good.

Dessert- This was unquestionably the best part of the meal. Really nice trifle, some decent rice milk (a surprising but delicious staple in Germany) and all sorts of other goodies I didn’t try. But it was a healthy spread and high quality.

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Not the most picturesque dessert, but it was definitely a delicious dessert.

Beverages: 54.17 %

The low score is largely driven by the coffee which took a quantity over quality approach. Sady, we are quality people so were less impressed with the large jug of terrible tasting coffee. But the sekt wasn’t terrible (also German, in case you haven’t caught on to the theme here…).

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German Sekt. It’s like prosseco, only very VERY German
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Expensive water and low quality/high quantity coffee.

Presentation: 66.25 %

Buffet. I’m going to start removing this category for buffets. The layout downstairs was really nice and fairly awe inspiring.

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Wiesse Villa from across the lake. The brewery next door is for sale for an absurdly low price, but you have to pay to fix it up… no thank you.

Diversity: 66.67 %

GOOD LORD WAS THERE A LOT OF DIFFERENT FOOD! But I think this actually falls into the category of too much food. This is a first for us.

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A very German brunch buffet. Possibly too many choices.

Ambiance: 80.87 %

By far the best part of this whole experience. The building was really nice, and had such a lovely sense of history. The table was large and excellent.

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Lovely ambiance, a lovely view, lovely companions. Almost makes up for the terrible food!

The view was of the water. Again, this was my first trip to a Berlin lake and it was simply wonderful.

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What a cool building. Whenever I’m in these kinds of places I can’t help but think what it would be like to live here.

But really the best was the company. Rudi was the perfect pupper, and the conversation and companions were excellent.

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The best dining companion, Rudi. He’s only 3, but was born an old man.

Even though it wasn’t really my cup of tea, I’d come back here for brunch. Not because the food was amazing, but the view and the company would bring me back. If ze German ever invites me again that is (hint, hint).

Overall Score: 62.49 %

Price: 18.5

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After brunch, Rudi took his people out for a walk. Good for digestion.
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He remained just ahead of us the whole time, but kept looking back to make sure we were keeping up.