My near and dear friend Andy turned a year older and we decided to celebrate the occasion we needed to brunch. He said he knew a German buffet on a lake. I knew I don’t like German brunch and I don’t like buffets. But I adore Andy and the birthday person gets to pick the brunch location. Andy brought his +1 and partner Ben and I asked my friend George to join us.
Let me start with this: for a buffet it was really good. But that means it’s still… a buffet. I would go again for special occasions, especially because the view couldn’t be beat and we went for a stroll along the lake afterwards.
Quality: 75 %
Overall quality- For a buffet the overall quality was surprisingly high (but remember, we’re grading on a pretty steep curve here). For a place called the fish hutt, the fish could have been more abundant. And better cooked.
Eggs- There weren’t many eggy options, which isn’t that shocking for a german brunch. And the ones that were out were, meh. But again and again, buffet.
Hollandaise sauce- None and this was both a surprise and disappointment. Usually, when there is no hollandaise I just take this off, but it was expected and noted.
Unlimited free hot drinks are included. One free glass of sekt (german prosecco which tastes… meh), but we all gave our glasses to Andy who was the only one drinking/the birthday boy.
The german tea was terrible, but this follows a long history of terrible german tea. At least they are consistent.
Presentation: 78.75 %
For a buffet things were well laid out. And the scenery helped.
And then some. There were plenty of warm options, cold options, desserts and breads. And a whole smoothie section.
Ambiance: 86.67 %
The table was wonderful, the lighting was mostly natural and even on a gloomy day was wonderful. The noise was low. Overall a delight.
People of my current job have united to enjoy brunch. I have even talked a few of them into the advantage of dining at 10am. And we had our eye on Mahlo Brunch Bar for a few weeks. So Sai, Josephine, Hazar and I ventured there on one gloomy Sunday morning to try out this new brunch establishment.
Quality: 72.83 %
Overall quality- Because we were dining with Sai, there are many thoughts to convey, broken down by dish. The wedges on the side of the breakfast sandwich were very disappointing. They were supposed to be hot and crispy but they were cold and mushy.
I both agree with Sai’s assessment, and thought each dish looked delicious. But the taste left me flat. Everything seemed to fundamentally lack flavor, which was disappointing after such gorgeous looking items came out.
The eggs were cooked perfectly, runny yolk and tender white. Hazar also noted that the tofu substitute is pretty good and as a vegan she loved that most dishes had tofu as an option.
Dessert- The pancakes looked too good coming out of the kitchen so we got them to share as a brunch dessert (it’s a thing, really). I enjoyed them, but Sai had much to say: fairly good. The texture is really interesting. The combination of toppings is not very well-balanced though. (She means literally. They were poorly balanced on top of the pancake making it difficult to get a good bite) But maybe we did not eat it in the right way. The key for a pancake topping of banana + berry is to balance the sour. From this perspective, they do have potential to make it better.
This was the area the Sai was happiest with: coffee. It received a “Well done!” comment. I’ve never seen Sai happy at a restaurant so this is huge. The juice was also pretty good, and there was a golden chai (with some sort of turmeric mix) that was a nice twist on the usual brunch menu. Apparently it’s a thing in Australia.
Everything that came out of the kitchen looked GORGEOUS. It was colorful and well plated. The photos look fantastic! If only the food was good.
Everything on the menu looked good and there were lots of vegan options. Before the food came we all commented that we would need to come back and try more things!
Ambiance: 79.05 %
Bright lighting, solid and big table. Not too much noise when we arrived at 19, but by 11 when there were tons of people it was too noisy. And the first order came quickly, but we had to remind them about the dessert pancakes more than once. Serious deductions abound.
Eric (who you’ll remember as the Swedish gentleman who moved to Berlin recently, and likes brunch) turned a significant age. And so for his birthday I offered to organize a brunch. A whopping 10 people from my current workplace were interested (to be clear, it was Eric and 9 ladies) and we all ventured out fairly early on a Sunday to make our brunch dream, a reality.
There are two new places I have my eye on, but we couldn’t get reservations at either (but stay tuned in the coming weeks). So instead we went to an old reliable place that I’ve never written a blog post about.
Spreegold is unabashedly a chain. They came into my orbit, because they tend to open earlier than other places in Berlin (730am!) so friends who also morning people and I often meet here before work to catch up and chat. But I’ve never been on the weekend because other places are available.
Additionally, I’ve most often been to the Spreegold on Rosa-Luxemburg Strasse near Alexanderplatz. I can attest that the one in Starsgarder Str. is much cozier. It was the perfect place for a group of our size to brunch and relax and celebrate Eric’s monumental birthday. Welcome to the best decade Eric (so far…)!
Overall quality- The group was savage about the overall quality. It REALLY pulled the score down, and I’m not sure it’s entirely warranted. But I go where the data tells me, and here, overall, people weren’t thrilled. We got a variety of things, but the general consensus was that the eggs were poorly cooked. Sadly.
Eggs- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you are a brunch place and you cannot properly cook eggs you need to reexamine your life choices. I had two eggs on my salmon benedict (called runny poached eggs royal, emphasis on “runny”) was hard poached. The scrambled eggs were a little overdone, but not the end of the world overdone. Alicia liked hers quite a bit. However, the overcooked problem was true for most of the table and it was the most noted comment. Except Sai, who’s were undercooked and made her whole plate kind of a disaster.
Hollandaise sauce- I loved the hollandaise sauce, and it smothered my toast with just the right amount of yum. However, Sai, who spent many years living in Paris thought there was too much and her eggs were undercooked, resulting in a soupy egg hollandaise concoction that she didn’t like. I have more than once speculated if my standards of volume of hollandaise are too American (more is better), and Sai pretty much confirmed it.
No breakfast cocktails (to Joan’s disappointment), but the coffee was pretty good all around. Josephine had a delightful green juice thingy that I could fall in love with. But their chai was too watery, and I honestly couldn’t finish it. Enough variation here that you can get what you desire, whatever that may be. Sai thought her cappuccino had too much milk and should have been smaller. She has standards, and I love it.
The plates looked good, but it’s clearly not a place that focuses only on appearance. Either that our table wasn’t interested in looks (photos of me are notably absent because I looked abysmal).
The menu is immense I got there 30 minutes late and everyone was just figuring out what to order. And all the comments were “this menu is flipping huge”. Possibly too huge (Alicia noted this). But that’s what comes of a chain restaurant. Hazar is vegan and noted that the only vegan options are oatmeal, which is pretty bad. She ended up having this ridiculous salad instead. Additionally, it had paper between the salad and the baking sheet (who needs a baking sheet full of salad? I mean really).
It’s self service and the food came out pretty quickly. The table was delightful, and the seats around it were wonderful couches. They weren’t so low as to make it difficult to eat, but were optimal for lounging post overeating. The lighting was pretty low but was supplemented by ample natural light. I assume in the summer it would be much brighter. The acoustics were terrible, so as the place started to fill up, we found we needed to speak louder and louder to talk to each other.
But we were all able to curl up and enjoy each others company and that was really delightful. And what we were looking for in a birthday brunch.
Overall Score: 68.18
Final verdict: great for a big group, or last minute plans. The food isn’t sensational but solid. And my colleagues have a very discerning palate.
I feel I have become stagnant, and I fear nothing in life more than stagnation. I have become lazy with my brunching, tending towards places near me (Mitte) or near friends (Prenzlauer Berg). But this isn’t a Mitte brunch blog, it’s a BERLIN brunch blog. So I’ve decided that for the next few blog posts I’m determined to go outside of my comfort zone.
Starting with Kreuzberg. Apparently, while not the nicest part of Berlin, the street adjacent to Gorlitzer Park is a hotspot for brunch locations. Remember Cafe Mugrabi? Well there are two good looking brunch places nearby. We went to one, Nest, which had a great looking brunch menu as well as a Sunday buffet. Who is we? My new colleague Josephine joined me for a delightfully fall brunch (a crisp note of cooler weather to come was in the air and we sat outside soaking up the last rays of summer).
Now. I don’t like a breakfast buffet so this place naturally scored pretty low. But I’m willing to come back and try the breakfast menu. It’s because they have eggs benedict and I’m a sucker for Hollandaise. I will fully own this.
Now, on to the review!
Overall quality- Everything looked good, but everything was a bit disappointing. Things that we thought should be hot were not, and there wasn’t anything on our very convoluted plates (I hate buffets) stood out as good. We were also both a bit miffed by the lack of labels on the plates. Is this thing I’m getting meat? Is it veg? Tell me more. Actually just tell me anything…
The dessert had promise, as the dessert table looked amazing, but also was a bit disappointing. Jo loves cheesecake so we both grabbed some. It wasn’t cheesecake, it lacked… cheesiness. It did have a nice lemon tang to it, but even then… no.
Eggs- The scrambled eggs were good, Jo likes her a little more cooked than I like mine but we were both satisfied. However, the hardboiled eggs were over cooked, leading to that grey layer around the yolk. Gross.
They had decaf coffee! And it was really REALLY bad. I’m becoming pickier about my lattes. The cocktail also left a lot to be desired.
The tables were very noticeably set up to be instrgrammable, especially the dessert table.
I spotted this plate from across the room and knew it was meant to be photographed closely.
A fair buffet, but not as much variety as some (Jo) have come to expect from a buffet. Like everything at Nest it could be better. Except the company. The company was top. Notch.
A sunny day, a nice table, easy conversation, good enough service. It was the only reason I was willing to return and try the non-buffeted breakfast.
I always thought this was a hotel cafe. Not even a hotel, a hostel. A relatively cheap one at that.
But they are on my block, close by and I started noticing the crowds piling in on Sundays. And the sign that said “Brunch, Brunch, Brunch”. I have a finely tuned sense for new brunch locations so it surprised me that it took me so long to notice something so close and well… so obvious.
But I hauled myself down the block to give it a try.
Quality: 96.67 %
Overall quality- Solid food. Solid meal, solid amount, good flavors, good mix of textures. All and all really solid. It wasn’t fancy (the bathroom is on the 1st floor, it’s just a room that isn’t rented where you can go use the loo), and they are clearly still figuring out the whole “restaurant” part of their venture. But it’s a solid start.
Eggs- A little undercooked for me but undercooked is better than over cooked (when we’re talking about a little. A lot under cooked is just as bad as a lot overcooked).
Hollandaise sauce- I would have eaten this hollandaise with a spoon. And they serve it in such large quantities that at one point I actually had to eat it with a spoon. Which was kind of awesome.
Good chai, good hot chocolate, nice tap water. Nothing to complain about (no breakfast cocktails).
Presentation: 55 %
This is one of the things they still need to figure out. They are clearly going for quantity and flavor over presentation and it shows.
Fair amount of selection, but not too much.
Ambiance: 85 %
You feel like you’re having breakfast in a low end hostel in the middle of the city. Kind of young, frantic and only half put together. But, you get what you pay for and it’s pretty cheap.
I had actually been here for coffee with an acquaintance, but didn’t realize it was a brunch hot spot. Then it showed up on my radar (maybe someone recommended it to me?) and I decided I should go with some friends.
Sunday morning and off we went!
Quality: 85 %
Overall quality- The whole meal was good, but nothing to write home about. I often judge brunch places with the metric “would I come back here again” and the answer to this one was “probably not”. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t anything spectacular
Eggs- Well cooked, and overall not bad. Not great, either, but that’s sort of going to be the theme here.
Here’s where the really shined. The hot chocolate was made with real chocolate (the just hand you the chocolate so you can add as much or as little as you’d like) which sounds kichy but was actually really interesting. As someone who likes sweet but not too sweet it was the perfect blend.
Presentation: 65 %
Clearly not a focus for them, but again, I’m not sure they are trying to make it on the map as a brunch place.
Tons of choices, all of which looked good.
Ambiance: 85 %
Really nice and laid back. Not too long of a wait, not too loud, lots of natural light.
I have probably attempted to go to this place 3 times before Jessica and I finally made it. It had become my white whale. There was always a line out the door, and our timing was never right. They don’t have a big online presence, so it was unclear why it was so popular, or how one even made an appointment.
So one relatively chilly morning Jessica (another morning person) and I wandered in. There were only two seat left, in the balcony overlooking the restaurant, so we snagged them.
By the time we left, there was a line out the door. Don’t believe the hype (my general motto) but trust that this place was worth the wait.
Quality: 90 %
Overall quality- The food was delectable. Each bite was well composed with simple buy high quality ingredients.
Eggs- Well cooked, good texture. High quality ingredients given the chance to shine. It’s all a girl is looking for first thing in the morning.
Hollandaise sauce- Nice little hint of lemon, with a good texture. I really am becoming pickier about hollandaise and this was exactly what I was looking for.
Both Jessica and I were satisfied with our beverage choices. But more than that, I loved the cups! Good handle to volume ratio, which makes for a cup of coffee, or decaf latte that you can curl your body around against the cold.
The plates were adorable. It seemed to go with the whole theme of the restaurant, which is to say it was like being in a really fancy version of your own living room. Well designed and homey all at the same time.
It was noted that the plates are pretty sparse. Which is fine, but for the price you’re not getting a lot of food. That’s why it lost so many points in this area. Not much bang for the buck.
Tons of interesting things. We got dessert (which was delicious) because we felt we needed something more, but we considered getting a second main to satiate that problem. Lots of good options.
Just lovely. The only reason it lost points is because it can get quite noisy, which, given it’s filled all the time can be problematic.
If you have been to Berlin (and you’re reading this blog, so I assume, Mom, that you have), then you should have heard about or gone to MarktHalle Neun. If not, please cancel whatever plans you had for dinner (Netflix will still be there tomorrow) and go to MarktHalle.
Housed in an old… market hall? Seriously, it reopened in 2011, 120 years after it’s first opening. The space has survived WW2 annihilation, unlike it’s compatriots (it is one of 14 original market halls). But more than that, it’s diverse set of food options, a delicious adventure and a delightful place to go with friends.
And every once in awhile to go solo. Approximately once a month, MarktHalle opens for brunch, and having enjoyed the fare during the evening, I assumed I would enjoy the food. But sadly, no one was available to join me. So I ventured forth, for blogging, for food, and to find the best place to brunch in Berlin.
NOTE: I got there early. It opened at 10, and I think I crossed the threshold at 10:05. It was relatively empty when I arrived, but by the time I had my food, it was packed.
Everything I tried was delicious. But this is not particularly abnormal for the Markt Halle. I liked the brunch spin on things (I’m looking at you French toast bar), but overall: high points for quality.
There was a line out the door for the turkish coffee stand. To be fair it was close to the door but… still it seemed popular.
I’m keen to come back and do some New Zealand wine tasting (some of my favorite wine on the planet. Anywhere. Fact). But for brunch solo, I wasn’t feeling it.
The stand are all trying to lure you over to their stand rather than let you make the mistake of going to other stands. Which means the instagraming game here is TOP. NOTCH. All the food looks good, and luckily, most of it is really good.
It’s almost absurd to have this category for the Markthalle. It’s just not fair. You’ll explode from eating to much before you try all the things you want to eat here. Even if you only have a bite of each. There’s so much glorious diversity and it’s all… well… good.
It’s a bit crowded and a bit noisy. Plenty of tables, if you get there early, and they are long sturdy picnic benches. The food comes fast and furious, but you have to collect it yourself. It’s what you would expect from a Market Halle, I don’t know what else to say about it.
Remember my friend Fidel? Of the Soho house brunch and rooftop lounging? Well he has been raving about this new brunch at The Reed. And it was his birthday, so brunch choice is all him.
PLUS Penny was in town! To celebrate the presence of one of my favorite human beings on the planet, and the birthday of another of my favorites, off to the Reed we went.
Now, it has been noted more than once that I don’t like a brunch buffet. I want someone constructing my plate for me, so I don’t have to think or put in any effort into cooking/plating on a Sunday morning. Moreover, buffets are almost never a good idea. Almost. Never.
The Reed is the rare exception to my protests. The vibe was awesome (there was a DJ, for brunch), the food was good, the company, as always, was exceptional. And despite the fairly posh atmosphere, the price was not as bad as I expected it to be.
Now, on to the reviews!
Quality: 82.5 %
Overall quality- I mean, this food is good. Really good. The quality was super high, from the steak that Penny had to the marinated tuna chunks I ate way too much of. The bread was good, the fruit was good, the gnocchi (breakfast gnocchi? brilliant) was good. Overall this was a huge win.
Eggs- The only reason this lost points. The scrambled eggs were just ok. They needed salt and were a little overcooked. But cooking scrambled eggs at scale like this is hard. I may need to go back to try their poached (they do breakfast properly on Saturday), but the scrambled were the only letdown of the meal.
Beverages: 100 %
ALL YOU CAN DRINK CHAMPAGNE AND WINE. I REPEAT: ALL. YOU. CAN. DRINK.
I think I can just stop there. For the price this is the best breakfast bar in town.
This is where buffets usually lose all the points (please see Mana). But every dish looked well constructed and appetizing. Lots of interesting colors and well plated combinations.
And everything was crazy instagrammable.
Diversity: 100 %
Lots of good options and they all looked good. It made me want to overeat (problem #2 with buffets), but I was able to construct magnificent plates full of delicious options and I didn’t even scratch the surface of what was possible.
The tables were absolutely absurd. Penny and I watched one of our fellow diners trying to figure out how to sit on the ground, then squatting, then pulling up an awkward stool. He apparently hadn’t mastered eating food in his lap, but you know: adulting is hard.
But the DJ was great, the lighting was wonderful, and the epic wall tv thingy was mesmerizing. It was pretty cool overall.
She scored ~middle of the pack. Which for someone who has a full time day job that is not even remotely related to the culinary industry I think that’s pretty darn good!
But for Anna it was not good enough. She could do better. She insisted I have a do over, and that I bring my surveys. She would be better this time! Challenge accepted!
I should have said “no”, but I like a good brunch. And I’d like to encourage this kind of behavior. So off we went and brunch we did.
Now, on to the reviews!
Quality: 82.5 %
Overall quality- Anna HIT. IT. OUT. OF. THE. PARK. Overall, each dish was delightful. I don’t usually like cinnamon rolls, but I’ll make an exception for these (it was the cream cheese frosting, let’s be clear).
Eggs- Again, this was the weakest category. Anna came out stronger than last time, making her famous shashuka. However, the key to a good shashuka is the eggs are poached not hard boiled. They were a tad overcooked all around and as such there were deductions. The flavors of the tomato sauce however: epic.
Hollandaise sauce- A few days before brunch, Anna asked me if I had thoughts about the menu. I responded: “Yes. Of course”. I suggested she should try something with hollandaise, but she only thought of eggs benedict. While that is my preferred hollandaise vessel, it is not, by any means, the ONLY hollandaise dish. I’m not taking off points for not bowing to my whims, that would be petty.
But I am publically commenting on the lack of hollandaise on the table. Because I’m a little bit petty.
Mimosas were great (obviously, because I got to choose the optimal orange juice to champagne ratio… it’s heavy skewed towards the champagne).
But the coffee fell WAY short of expectations. One reviewer didn’t comment as much as she just drew a frowny face of unhappiness. Anna and I have talked about this, and she’s not sure she wants to improve drastically in this category, so this may be where she tops out.
Presentation: 97.5 %
I wasn’t the only person taking photos of the food for once. We all joined in taking loads of photos because the whole table was laid out perfectly. The food was colorful and well-balanced and overall the presentation was great.
One reviewer noted it was “Super” another noted that she was posting on instagram while writing the review.
I could take a moment to talk about how I’m generally against a buffet for breakfast, but I won’t. You’ve heard it before.
Diversity: 93.75 %
LOADS OF FOOD. LOADS OF CHOICES. We were all laying back in our chairs groaning under the weight attempting to try every dish and there was still more to eat and options we hadn’t tried. And they all looked great!
One reviewer noted that there was a bacon deduction, because it was noticeably absent from the table. And hollandaise would have helped… of course.
Ambiance: 96.25 %
This section seems redundant. I like Anna’s place, we’ve been there before, we liked it before.
Overall Score: 85.83 %
I feel like a mooch encouraging her competitive streak. I shouldn’t intentionally rile up my friends so that they’ll want to cook for me. But I think Anna enjoys it (or she’s a good liar) and so I’m going to call this a win-win. Anna has moved up in the rankings, now let’s see if she wants to make it to the top!