The Reed

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.

fullsizeoutput_415b
Fidel’s Birthday Brunch! What a good crowd.

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.

fullsizeoutput_414c
Fidel insisted this random guy take a photo with Penny because they were both wearing Christmas sweaters.

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.

fullsizeoutput_4144
Two different types of delicious raw fish.

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.

fullsizeoutput_4147
Hot stuff, including eggs, bacon, steak, etc.

Beverages: 100 %

ALL YOU CAN DRINK CHAMPAGNE AND WINE. I REPEAT: ALL. YOU. CAN. DRINK.

fullsizeoutput_4157
The bar. A delightful bar.

I think I can just stop there. For the price this is the best breakfast bar in town.

Presentation: 100%

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.

fullsizeoutput_4146
Fruit and yogurt bar.

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.

fullsizeoutput_4145
All the bread

Ambiance: 72.5%

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.

fullsizeoutput_415a
These tables are the definition of great style, HORRIBLY impractical. You cannot eat on these, trust me. We watched a guy try for many a minute.

But the DJ was great, the lighting was wonderful, and the epic wall tv thingy was mesmerizing. It was pretty cool overall.

Overall Score: 86.56 %

Price: 20

fullsizeoutput_4149
The ceiling and awesome screen of distraction.
Advertisements

Anna’s Place, Round 2

My friend/coworker Anna loves to cook. You may remember her from the last time she invited everyone over to her flat, to see how her brunch stacked up against the competition in Berlin.

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!

fullsizeoutput_3ffa

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).

fullsizeoutput_4007

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.

fullsizeoutput_3ff8.jpeg

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.

fullsizeoutput_4003

But I am publically commenting on the lack of hollandaise on the table. Because I’m a little bit petty.

Beverages: 69.17 %

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.

fullsizeoutput_4006

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.

fullsizeoutput_4002

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!

fullsizeoutput_3ffe

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.

fullsizeoutput_3ffd

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!

fullsizeoutput_4001
The canadian reviewer brought her own maple syrup. It’s one of the many things I love about Canadians: their love of maple syrup.

A Never Ever Ending Love Story

This place has been on my list for awhile but I hadn’t been because: 1) it’s in Charlottenburg and that is very far from my bed and 2) I couldn’t tell if it was a coffee shop or a brunch place. I am here now to assure you: it’s a brunch place.

My friend Kirsten is a bruncher and lives in Charlottenburg. So when she invited me out, I roused myself from my usual Saturday morning routine and headed off to the great unknown.

IMG_0681

Note: I’m not sure about the name of this place. It seems a bit epic. I don’t generally care what you name your brunch establishment (it is not a criteria by which I score brunch), but this one struck me as odd.

Quality: 90 %

Overall quality- Very good. The plates are a bit simple, one main item and no side salad or anything else. But the food that was there was really quite good.

Eggs- I had the scrambled eggs and they were perfectly cooked. And abundant. Perfectly abundant eggs. Which are a delight.

IMG_0686

Beverages: 87.5 %

Ugh, decaf latte. It was delightful and well done. No breakfast cocktails, but I’ll let that slide just this once. 

IMG_0682

Presentation: 80 %

I was pleased not only with the look of my plate (again, tower of eggs which were well cooked) and Kirsten’s plate, but of almost every plate that walked by. I spent the whole meal eyeing what other people were getting, in the expectation that I would be back for more some other time.

IMG_0684

Diversity: 68.75 %

Not a lot to be said here. Pancakes, eggs and some bowl like items. It was like Beakers only all the items were of crazy high quality (unlike Beakers).

This might be the best example of “don’t do many things, but do them all well” I have ever seen.

IMG_0680

Ambiance: 70 %

We sat outside as it was still sunny and warm (as long as you were in the sun)(which we were). The interior looked both dark and we could hear the noise from outside. The table was adequate (yes, worse exists but have had better), and we arrived early enough we didn’t have to wait in the obscene line. But the food took forever to arrive at our table. Deductions for that, for sure.

Overall: I will be back if only to try other pancakes on the menu. For. Sure.

Overall Score: 83.28 %

Price: 15

Møller

THE THREE BRUNCHERS WERE REUNITED! You may recall that Ben and Asta moved back to Copenhagen, and left me to seek out brunch all alone in Berlin (luckily for me, I have friends who like to brunch as well). But, by invitation I went to visit them in Copenhagen and we took the opportunity to brunch.

IMG_0800
It’s BEN! And ASTA! What a delightful visit, I miss you guys.

Ben was VERY insistent that I write a blog post about our Copenhagen brunch. And after being shown an amazing time, by two great friends I was only too happy to comply.

And let me start by saying that Berlin has nothing on Copenahagen food. I’m not going to include this in the overall ranking, because I don’t think it’s fair. The overall food game in Copenhagen is just so far ahead of the overall food game in Berlin that it would be like a bully picking on a weaker smaller kid on the playground.

Now, on to the review!

Quality: 95 %

Overall quality- There are some items on this table that I’ll never be able to properly describe in words. I feel like I need to write a whole new set of criteria for these items to be judged. I would marry the baker of this bread, simply to be able to eat it every day. The “whipped” butter that accompanied it was something to write home about, and I never thought I’d say those words about bread and butter ever. I will need to up my writing game just to describe how much I like this food. But for the remainder of the post I will endeavour to put the wonderful things that were happening in my mouth into some sort of coherent description of food. 

IMG_0803

Eggs-

Soft boiled. Game changer. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve had a soft boiled egg cooked so perfectly before. It wasn’t too runny, but also wasn’t too hard. It was an utter delight. And when eaten on the bread (have I mentioned the bread? The bread really was amazing), it was truly awesome. Also Ben had scrambled eggs, and they were so perfectly cooked I considered asking the chef to write down SPECIFIC instructions that I can give to every chef at every place I brunch in Berlin. I’m ruined.

IMG_0804
So much yolky goodness

Hollandaise sauce-

There was no hollandaise. But now that I have your attention, let me tell you about this goat cheese I had. It was unlike anything I have ever eaten. It was salty, but not too salty. It was warm, and had a whipped texture. Like if goat cheese and cream cheese had a love child that was whipped until it had the texture of heaven. See what I mean about having trouble describing it!? The chutney in the middle was also a delightful addition, but I’m not sure it wouldn’t have survived/stood on it’s own. I’ve had dreams about this goat cheese since brunch.

IMG_0805

Beverages: 90 %

I don’t like fancy tea, so this scored pretty low for me. But Ben and Asta were both satisfied with their coffees. Also, there is something to be said about the design of the mugs. They were perfect to curl your hand, followed by your entire body, around and keep the cold at bay.

IMG_0802

Presentation: 74.16 %

They had a note on the board about posting to instagram, but the food wasn’t the bright colored, and well balanced plates that I usually see people in Berlin posting. And the best dishes didn’t look amazing, they simply were. It doesn’t surprise me that this scored low, but I’m also not bothered by it. The food speaks for itself, no need to make it look great in a photo.

Diversity: 93.33 %

We got small plates, and it was recommended that each person should aim for 3-4. I’m intrigued by the idea of brunch tapas, and we all agreed that 4 was a nice round number we could get behind. But let it be known that I could have gone back and eaten an entirely different set and still LOVED it. 

Ambiance: 98.33%

IMG_0801

The table was perfect, and what tables should be. Functional, without too much fluff, nice and sturdy to support our epic brunch. The lighting was also very good. The noise was really low, we were all able to hear Ben! If we had come even 30 minutes later I’m not sure that would have been true. But we were all so busy eating I’m not sure I would have noticed that I couldn’t hear Ben.

Copenhagen, I will be back. I miss my friends and hope to see them again soon. And if the other brunches are anything like this brunch, I may even consider moving.

Overall Score: 91.99 %

Price: 25

 

SoHo House

I had plans to brunch with Sid and Jana. But then Jessica asked if I wanted to join her and Fidel for brunch. So I combined friends from different corners of Berlin, brought them to one place and brunch we did!

I feel a little odd reviewing SoHo House, because I get the impression that the quality of the food isn’t the main draw. It’s a place to see, and be seen. And in all honesty I’m not a member so it’s a place I only go by invite. BUT invite we had, so with invite we went.

IMG_0697
Jessica! Fidel!

Quality: 73 %

Overall quality- Again, I get the impression that the quality of the food isn’t what is important here… and that showed a little. I know a number of Brits who swear by the full english breakfast, but I have never met anyone outside of the UK who feels the same way. But in general this was the theme of brunch, plates that had good things but lacked overall coherence. 

IMG_0691
The Veggie Full English Breakfast. Not photographed: Jessica’s plate which basically had a small pig’s worth of bacon on it. It was impressive.

Eggs- Overcooked, across the board. There are worse sins that you can have a brunch, but very few. In fact, I’m going to write it down now: if you don’t know how to properly make eggs, then don’t open for brunch. Just… don’t. 

IMG_0692
Omlet?

Hollandaise sauce- Great texture, not a ton of flavor. I’m once again wondering if I’m expecting too much from hollandaise in Germany (note: this is not the first time I have had this line of reasoning). But I refuse to lower my standards so, Berlin, you’re just going to have to step it up. 

IMG_0696
Salmon benedict. I mean, it really leaves a lot to be desired. There’s a lot of white space on that there plate…

Also, as a general rule I don’t discuss service on this blog because… the service across Berlin is terrible. I mean it’s just beyond bad. Really bad. And I don’t want this blog to turn into a single girl’s complaints about all the terrible service in Berlin.

But at SoHo House, they forgot to put in my part of the order. Everyone else’s food came. And there was no sign of mine. When we alerted the waiter he felt awful and he was legitimately really nice about it (brought me a free latte! And didn’t charge me for the meal). So my view of the food might be influenced by the bad service, but the delightfully nice waiter.

Beverages: 100 %

That’s right, the elusive 100%. The mimosa was on point. The Bloody Mary was well mixed. The latte was the best decaf latte I’ve had in Berlin.

IMG_0688
Really good breakfast cocktails (not surprisingly, I get the impression that SoHo House is better served as a bar than a brunch place).

But more than all that, their smoothies were amazing. I’m not generally a smoothie person, because I like my calories to be either solid food, or alcohol. But this had cardamom which made it really wonder. Not too sweet, with some interesting complexities. Would have for brunch dessert. Or for breakfast even. Two thumbs up.

IMG_0690
Game changer. It changed my outlook on smoothies. Also possibly life in general.

Presentation: 50 %

Again, I’m not sure that this place was trying to make amazing presentations. To be fair, it turns out that I wasn’t supposed to take pictures, which could explain why they haven’t attempted to make their food look better.

IMG_0693
French Toast with apple compote. It actually tasted better than it looked.

Diversity: 75 %

There was an adequate number of options, and they looked ok. The smoothie menu looked amazing, and almost all the points here can be attributed to the desire to go back and discover if all the smoothies were as good as the two I tried.

IMG_0694
Green bowl? Love the colors, but I question the whole “bowl” phenomena. It’s basically blended food in a bowl… isn’t that a smoothie?

Ambiance: 72.5 %

It really was lovely. The table was too low to the ground, but because we were sitting on couches (again, it didn’t seem set up for a proper brunch). It was quiet, optimal for great conversations.

IMG_0698
Lounging on the roof. So

But the oddest thing happened at the end of brunch. We all put in money and it turned out to be… too much. Way too much. So we decided rather than figure out who had over paid we went upstairs to the rooftop and ate ice cream. It was one of the last really warm days before winter took it’s hold on Berlin, and sitting upstairs chatting for hours was the perfect after brunch relaxing.

Overall Score: 73.85 %

Price: 15

Allen’s Breakfast Club

Allen’s Breakfast Club is my white whale. People had raved about this place, I had tried to go repeatedly and the menu looked real good. However, I’d tried to go at least half a dozen times, and because I object to waiting more than 30 minutes for breakfast, had been thwarted every time. So when I tried to make a reservation 3 days out (on Thursday I tried to make a reservation for Sunday), and was rebuffed again I took drastic measures. Without people to fill the seats, I made a reservation for 3 weeks away, party of 6.

IMG_0670
My white whale

Then three days before the reservation, I found people to join me (but only 4 could make it… which is good because the table would have been a bit small for 6). Leo came without Francesca (she’s on vacation), Sid joined (he’s becoming a regular, I fully approve) and James made it out! He however is terrible at taking photos, so you’ll have to excuse this mess.

IMG_0660
Hi Leo! Hi James!

On to the reviews!

Quality: 79 %

Overall quality-  The food was good. It was not great. Most of the flavors felt a bit flat. I might be a tad biased because there was such a long wait to visit this place. People rave about it! And it was… adequate. I’m not sure I’ll go back until the hype dies down.

IMG_0667
Banana bread: I thought it would have made a great breakfast dessert, but James choose it as a main.

Eggs- Slightly undercooked but not terribly so. I have had worse, but I’ve also had better.

Hollandaise sauce- Good! Not the best in Berlin, but good! Like all the other categories it wasn’t anything to write home about… which made me wonder why everyone was so enamoured with it.

IMG_0668
Avocado benedict: solid amount of hollandaise, which I strongly approve of.

Beverages: 92 %

I had the bellini, which was delightful. It’s not the best bellini in the city (you’ll start to notice a theme here) but it was a high point of the meal.

IMG_0659
Bellini and hipster water glasses/jam jars

The coffee was also deemed delicious, but they didn’t have decaf (sigh). Leo was properly happy with his latte, and, as an Italian, he is a hard man to please when it comes to coffee. James was recovering from an illness and enjoyed his lemon ginger nonsense, or whatever it was. Overall, fairly satisfied customers.

IMG_0664
Coffee for the coffee drinkers and ginger lemon water for James

Presentation: 90 %

This is where ABC shines. Their plates are colorful and well put together. The have a strong instagram following (the likely source of the hype) and it shows why.

On this front it might be the best in Berlin.

IMG_0665
The potato waffle is somewhere under those poached eggs and beet cured salmon. And that forest that someone left on Sid’s plate.

Diversity: 88.75 %

BOY WHAT A MENU! I will have to own up to the fact that, as usual, I stuck with a salmon benedict. But I was curious about almost every option on the menu. I also might be willing to change my thoughts about this place being over hyped if I try something different.

IMG_0666
Croque-monsieur, Leo’s breakfast of choice.

Ambiance: 72 %

Weird lighting, kind of loud, really uncomfortable stools that we were perched awkwardly on. The ambiance leaves a lot to be desired.

IMG_0669

Overall Score: 82.39 %

Price: 18.67

 

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.

IMG_0401
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.

IMG_0402
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.

IMG_0405
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.

IMG_0400
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.  

IMG_0399
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.

IMG_0404
The sweet side of our plates.

Beverages: 72 %

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

IMG_0398

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

IMG_0397
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.

IMG_0403
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