Rose Garden

Rose Garden is a quick win, because it’s close to my bed. Moreover, because it’s in Mitte, it looks absurdly fancy. Finally, it has a great reputation!fd4e5ecb-511c-4283-9dee-91552c97ff37

And I can see why. Great atmosphere, good people watching, great location. However, if you’re focused on the food, you’d be better served going somewhere else. The company was excellent, but no one rated the overall flavors or food highly at all.

Speaking of the company: Dr. Sarah (PhD) and Marius were in town from Norway and so they joined us, and Kelley, of social media fame was also in attendance. They all gamely filled out the reviews and commented. Now onto the reviews!

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Diversity: 70 %

This was weird, and brings up the real problem with the whole experience. The menu was huge, so it got points for a lot of options. However, very few of us wanted to eat anything on the menu, so it lost points for quality in that diversity.

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But the real problem was the set up. It’s self service, but not immediately obvious that you are supposed to go up and order food. Once standing waiting to order, there is no rhyme or reason to the lines. As a result, everyone is milling around awkwardly trying to figure out where to go and how to order food. Normally, self service wouldn’t bother me. But brunch should be a place to relax, review the previous night’s events, gossip and unwind. For a brunch place, I don’t want to spend precious time and energy thinking about how to order my food, or standing in line for it. Ben also noted that this was confusing, and Marius wasn’t happy about having to serve himself. If this was lunch, this would be a different story. But for brunch this was a problem.

Quality: 56.67 %

Overall quality- Like I said, no one was wowed with the quality of the food. It lacked real depth of flavor. The ingredients weren’t anything to write home about, so overall it was: “meh”. However, it should be noted that Sarah, Marius and Asta all loved the bacon. It stood out as great in a sea of mediocre.

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Eggs- Overall, there were a total of 12 eggs on the table, and 75% of them were well cooked. 4 people ordered eggs, 3 eggs on each plate. Asta liked her scrambled eggs and was impressed by the portion size. Ben, Kelley and I all had poached eggs with varying responses. Ben and Kelley’s eggs were perfectly runny, but not under cooked (general consensus). My eggs were so overcooked they were basically hardboiled. I promise it’s not just me being picky (I am) but it was obvious to others at the table that my eggs were simply overdone.

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Hollandaise sauce- I want to start by giving points for even having hollandaise (slow clap of approval). Additionally, it was some of the best hollandaise that I’ve had in Berlin. The only complaint is that there wasn’t enough of it.

Beverages: 80.83 %

Coffee overall was good, the flat whites were not too milky and the cold brew was just what Kelley needed first thing in the morning.

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The mimosa looked promising! I asked about a cocktail when I ordered, and the poor girl behind the counter looked genuinely confused. She had never heard of them. But, when walking back to the table, I noticed that there were all sorts of wine glasses, and a wine menu at the other end of the counter. I went back and asked again. After figuring out how to order them, she then needed specific instructions on how to make one. I complied. As a result, the mimosa was perfect, and made to order! But only because of persistence. The orange juice was fresh pressed and lovely.

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Presentation: 74.58 %

This category is where Rose Garden excels, which is not exactly what you want. I got the impression that the food LOOKED way better than it tasted. And that was a sentiment universally shared amongst our dining guests.

The plates were perfect. Perfect I tell you! They made the whole presentation experience much better.

Ambiance: 91.25 %

Another area where the Rose Garden is excellent, and this one is much more marketable and desirable, was ambiance. It takes in a ton of natural light, which is so very pleasant. The artificial lighting is delightful and really interesting looking without drawing too much attention. The noise level from the street was a little loud, but the overall acoustics weren’t that bad. The table was big and comfortable, and the food didn’t take too long.

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While we weren’t wowed by the food, I would be willing to come and hang out and drink some coffee and mimosas here on a Sunday while watching the world go by! But if you’re going to do that… maybe go somewhere cheaper.

 

Overall Score: 69.88 %

Price: 14.50

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Geist im Glas

Bar by night, brunch by day. This place is what is often known as “very Berlin”. That’s code for “kind of dirty, multipurpose, not dressed up for daylight”. And it lives up to the hype.

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But it’s also known for a great brunch, and there it falls a little short.

Additionally, this week Penny was in town, so James and Jessica joined us for a good Sunday morning brunch. Additional data is never a bad thing!

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Diversity: 70.83

There are only 5 things on the menu, but all of them looked delicious, both when reading the menu and when they showed up. “The number of options was standard, but those options were relatively unique among Berlin brunch menus.” -Jessica. But again, were we to return, there aren’t any options left to test out. This makes Geist a “once in a very blue moon” brunch place, rather than somewhere we’d like to go to often.

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Quality: 65.42

Overall quality- Each dish was pretty darn good. There were some complaints: the pancakes were dense like bricks and as thick as english muffins, you really shouldn’t put biscuits on the menu if you’re not making top quality biscuits, and both a deulce de leche sauce and maple syrup on the same plate at the same time is a bad idea. But the bacon received rave reviews and the overall flavors of each dish were really quite good. However:

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Eggs- These were the worst cooked eggs in Berlin. By far. I tend to like my eggs a bit runny, but these were so undercooked they risked giving everyone salmonella. Additionally, 3 eggs AND pancakes? I hate that the american in this crowd has to lecture people on moderation, but there you have it. The eggs really brought down the overall score of the meal, so if you can overlook their consistency, or order the one thing on the menu that doesn’t have them (chicken and waffles) then go to town.

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Beverages: 48.33

The breakfast cocktail menu is extensive, but we settled on mimosas and bloody marys (classics). The orange juice that was added to the mimosa was less “orange” juice and more “sugar juice that has orange color”. Like squash, or sunny-D.

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And the bloody mary was fine, if a bit heavy.

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The coffee is brewed dark. Dark like my soul. Dark like the night. Dark like James’s wonderful spring jacket. And it’s bottomless, so as many refills as your heart desires. This is ideal if you need to knock a few back to feel human again after a long night out. However, quantity really is the focus over quality. Drink at your own risk.

Presentation: 59.17

The lighting was a little strange (see below), so I’m not sure how instagrammable the food was. Jess noted that the food would for sure be instagrammable, if only the lighting were better! 

Ambiance: 59

This was a candle lit brunch, which was interesting if that’s your thing. It makes it so you can easily cover up your hang over, or the fact that you’re still wearing last night’s makeup. But if you want a cheery start for your day you would be better served elsewhere.

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The tables were a little sticky, again, due to the fact that it’s mostly a bar. And along those same lines the food took quite awhile to arrive at our table. However, I’m super impatient, and Jessica noted that it was a totally reasonable wait time. Penny mentioned that it would have been suspicious if it had taken less time, as they really are cooking on just a few hot plates stacked on top of the liquor. This is very Berlin (see above).

The music was a bit loud, making it hard to hear Ben, but it was a laid back mootown kind of vibe which most of the table thoroughly enjoyed.

Overall, if the occasion arose, I’d likely come back here again with friends. But I’m unlikely to seek it out again.

Overall Score: 65.60

Price: 17.25

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Silo

This is a Berlin brunch staple. It was on the brunch scene before there was a Berlin brunch scene. And as a result, when it opens at 10 people are consistently lined up at the door.

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Luckily one of us is an early bird, and that person got us there at 9:45. The other person wanted coffee desperately.

Overall, I’d say it was good but a bit over hyped. Not sure how expectations are taken into account here, but please know that it definitely factored into our experience.

Diversity 68.3:

This is a good looking menu, but most of the options are “poached eggs on toast with something else”. We considered calling this blog “Avocado on Toast” but I worry we would be taking the name from Silo, which I assume also shares this name. So there are a fair number of options, but they are all basically the same thing.

Asta had the Smoked Ratatouille

CJ had the Avocado on Toast

Ben had the Pork, Fennel and Date Sausage

Quality 70:

Overall quality- I felt like the flavors were a bit one note. The tomato jam had too much sugar, and when it was gone, the rest of the plate had too little salt. That Ratatouille was all smoke and no other flavor. It lacked complexity.

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But it should be noted that both Asta and Ben enjoyed their sausages (insert sex joke here). And overall they both had better experiences. Asta wants to note how filling it was, that her eggs were sufficiently runny and the chorizo was excellent.

Oh and the salad that covered most of my plate was delightful, the best part of the meal (these are not words that should be uttered about brunch).

Eggs- Mixed results. Some were over cooked, and didn’t have the appropriate runnyness. However, it could have been much worse. I’m giving them a “meh” of approval.

Beverages 75: Coffee was average to good. Nothing to write home about but not a disappointment. However, no decaf. Let it be known, Berlin: I am now on a quest for decaf coffee.

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The mimosa was good! I liked the ratio of champagne to orange juice, in that it was a little more champagne. The juice was fresh squeezed, which always deserves a bonus.

Presentation 88.3: Here is where Silo shines. It’s clear that every plate is meant to be instagrammed, and it’s got a good following. The plates are identical to the ones at Common Grounds, but the food is plated in a very design-like fashion.

However, there is a trade-off. It’s unclear how to best eat said food. It wasn’t layered in a way that made it obvious which flavors on the plate were supposed to go together. Each of us had trouble “attacking” our food.

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Ambiance 56.7:

We are ammending the “noise” category to be “too loud to hear Ben talk”. Ben’s kind of a quiet talker, so this is a good metric. Silo failed, really hard. Given it was almost empty, this is not a good sign for busier moments. Additionally, there was too long a wait, especially for an empty restaurant.

The table style was great, but awkwardly short, and we kept bumping legs under the table. Not great for a long relaxing brunch. Also, Ben is oddly tall, and kept hitting his head on this odd table overhang thing. It is entirely unclear why it was there at all. Ben even drew a diagram to describe how he was terrified for his head, so tall people be warned.

The lighting scheme deserves it’s own paragraph. In general, we try to keep this section short because we want to focus on the food and drink. But the oddly homemade looking concrete lampshade (you read that right) accompanied by the red ropes stringing the whole odd thing together. Yeah, it was weird.

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Overall Score: 73.125

Price: 16

 

Common Grounds

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TL;DR: Common Grounds has a bit of a mediterranean flair, and the food is vibrant and well balanced. The drink menu is accompanied by a lovely and delicious coffee menu. It feels like we should stop searching, we may have found the best brunch in Berlin.

Asta is in Copenhagen for family and future things, so Ben and I decided to retread a place we had already been to and save the new and exciting for when our friend returned.

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Last time we came here we were both distracted by other things. I was in the middle of a move to Berlin, and was rushing around. I recall the food being good, and was excited to go back.

However, this go round, after we ate we both regretted that we have to try other places. The overall experience was so good we just want to come back here every weekend. We’ll soldier on, but know that this place is amazing.

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Additionally, it’s open really early! Although we’re not always morning people, having a place we can go early is appealing sometimes.

Diversity: 97.5

This is one place that Common Grounds really shines. Everything on the menu looks good. Not only are there a lot of options, but there are lots of good looking options. Hence, the desire to return here (But we won’t! Because science).

Quality: 97.5

Overall quality- Every plate has layers of different flavors and they blend really well. Seriously, you can combine some layers, get one flavor, and then build on that or keep exploring different combinations.

Eggs- BERLIN TAKE NOTE. THIS IS HOW YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO MAKE EGGS. They were poached perfectly. Nice and runny, but smooth on the outside. I can’t stop talking about how much I liked these eggs, exemplified by the note that they got a perfect score from two very picky people.

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Beverages: 85

Here’s where we diverge in opinions. I was in the mood for coffee but need decaf. They did not offer any. However, it was early and Ben was not bothered in the slightest that there was no decaf.

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Where we both agreed is that the breakfast cocktail menu is amazing. This is a place to come hang out during the summer, and day drink. I am looking forward to coming back and trying the rest of the menu.

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Presentation: 77.5

This is the only place where Common Grounds lost a few points Last time we were here they had big and interesting plates, but this time they had changed into boring white plates that you’re mom might have.

However, the vibrance that makes the flavor so interesting results in a colorful plate. It makes it both instagrammable and delicious.

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Ambiance: 91.25

We were in the back room, which means we didn’t have to compete with anyone to keep the noise level low. Additionally, the food came really quickly, the table was functional and large enough and the lighting was good.

We deducted a few points because last time we were there, it was a more reasonable hour (this time we met up prior to 9am), and the wait for food was a little longer. But honestly, at that point we were just looking for things to deduct.

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Final note: Ben and I both literally licked our plates. The food was so good it turned us into barbarians.

Overall Score: 90.15625

Price: 12.75

 

Distrikt Coffee

Last time I went here, I loved it! This time I realized the fatal flaw: there is no diversity on the menu at all.

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This might turn into a “good place to go and get the same thing everytime” kind of place, which means it’ll be a “only go here when I get the craving for that one plate” kind of place.

Now on to the review!:

Diversity: 25.8

This was the killer. The eggs on toast are amazing. The toasted brioche was ok. But those were the only two things on the menu that were even acceptable. There was some sort of “super food” bowl, that would have been good if I had just come from yoga and was going to work. But for Sunday brunch it was like reading “cardboard” as a menu option.

Quality: 71.7

Overall quality- Solid, but I made a mistake. The poached eggs on toast (with avocado I should mention), was amazing. But in an effort to try the only other acceptable looking thing on the menu, I ordered the toasted brioche. And regretted it. It was a giant sugar bomb. I took my first bite and saw the diabetes flash before my eyes. Scored low as a result.

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Eggs- Perfectly cooked. Perfect poaching. Really, can’t say perfect enough times. The overall quality score was almost entirely driven by the eggs.

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Hollandaise sauce- NOT EVEN AN OPTION. I know this is normal in Berlin… I’ll get over it I promise.

Beverages: 77.5

I wasn’t wowed by the options (no breakfast cocktail), and the coffee was deemed “good”. The juices were where it really shined.

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Presentation: 76.7

Very good. Actually Ben noted the reason he first found Distrikt Coffee was because he saw some of the food on instagram.

Ambiance: 79.2

I loved the decor, and I’m not a decor kind of person. But more than just that, it has an overall rustic feel and an open vibe. Good acoustics, we were able to hear Ben, by far the quietest of the three of us.

It should be noted that the table was uneven and that gets annoying. Quickly.

Overall: 62.6

Price: 16.8: We would like to note that you can not pay with credit card, and that is an immediate 5 point deduction. Especially makes it harder to split with friends.

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19 Grams

This is Ben and Asta’s staple. Many a Sunday morning comes and rather than try and get a reservation, they stumble out of bed (Ben stumbles, Asta is likely already up) and make their way down the street to 19 Grams.

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And I can see why. Overall, it was a solid breakfast, not too many frills but not too boring. Now for the details:

Diversity: 71.6

There were many an item on the menu I considered trying and I wasn’t alone. Each of us got a different dish and each of us liked what we got. I also wouldn’t have minded switching with either of my companion. This also recommends it for being a repeatable place to brunch.

Quality: 77

Overall quality- Really REALLY solid. Good flavor, good texture, good balance. Not too much of anything.

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Eggs- We’re split on this one. My poached eggs were slightly over cooked, but Asta’s were perfect. However, it could be much worse than slightly over cooked.

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Hollandaise sauce- Some of the better sauce I’ve had in Berlin (please note, this is not a high bar). A little too thick, but had a great flavor and much potential.

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Beverages: 90

Coffee was good, so much so that both Asta and Ben had seconds.

And the mimosa was ON. POINT. Fresh squeezed orange juice, a good balance of oj to champagne, would have had a few.

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Presentation: 79.2

This was a little rustic, but made for a colorful plate. I loved the colors.

Ambiance: 86.7

We sat on the balcony, which gave a great view of the whole place. The table was tiny, which made for a little bit of an awkward arrangement, but we survived.

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The noise level was acceptable, but only because we were so early. If we had been 1 hour later, the noise would have been overwhelming.

Overall Average: 80.3

Price: 14.4

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The Journey Begins

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

Ben and CJ met while working on bees in Halle, Germany (Ben and Asta met long before then…). When CJ got a job and found out she would be relocating to Berlin, Ben’s first response was “OH MY GOD THERE ARE SO MANY GOOD BRUNCH PLACES WE’RE GOING TO GO TO”. (The capitals were added by CJ, Ben is never that enthusiastic). A plan to try, and evaluate, every brunch place in Berlin was born.

The survey will be published soon, as will our list of destinations. Follow along to find the best brunch place in this great city.

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