Berlins new breakfast scene
I don’t subscribe to the philosophy of brunch. What is brunch even? A salty Bloody Mary and runny poached egg on toast? A superfluous reminder of a Sex and The City era in which successful, eager and aspirational career women would meet in their lunch break to talk about men? Urgh. However, I do enjoy good food during the day. I mean: Why do we create innovative, timeless, passionate dishes for dinner, but then serve each other eggs in countless variations, ALL OVER THE WORLD, for breakfast and call it brunch?
With or without triple-A ratings: there are some breakfast cafés and lunch restaurants in Berlin worth highlighting. Shout out to everyone who likes food – even for breakfast!
Annelies found the ultimate formula for culinary success in Berlin: location (Görlitzer Straße), hours (morning til afternoon) and a trick: instead of serving tropes of 21st century brunch, Annelies serves simplicity – transcending the concept of mealtimes. Crunchy, fresh salad, marinated in a tart vinaigrette, covered with a snowfall of cheese – is it breakfast? Is it lunch? Is it – gasp! – dinner?!
Annelies combine fresh ingredients in such obvious and objectively easy ways that any visitor will question why they put up with the rest of Berlins restaurants that, to this day, have the audacity to drag innocent eggs through heavy hollandaise and then serve them on dusty English muffins.
The menu changes seasonally, but if you can get hands on the roasted carrots, the kimchi scramble egg on sourdough, and the pancakes, I urge you to do so immediately.
While Annelies may have found the sweet spot – combining daytime food in café context without calling it brunch – Bastard on Reichenberger Straße run a rather traditional concept. At Bastard, breakfast is breakfast – eggs, bread, and platters of German cheese and meat cuts. The twist lies in superbly styled plates, garnished with fruits, jams, spreads and accompanied by fresh bread from the stone oven.
Meanwhile, lunch at Bastard is a weekly changing menu with hearty stews, exotic spices, unconventional treats and fresh ingredients. I still fonly remember grilled halloumi on rocket salad; pasta with lentil-ragout and hazelnuts; and a home-made hamburger to die for. For breakfast, try the vegan plate with different spreads, roasted vegetables, avocado, jams and fruits.
Arabica is hidden well in the courtyard of an Altbau on Reichenberger Straße – as seems to be the norm today for sleek, modern cafés. As a franchise concept from Japan (with European flagships in Berlin and London), Arabica stands out: once you step inside, you could be anywhere in the world. Very “Airspace“, that idea which describes instant teleportation between urban locations and lifestyles through aesthetics, regardless of your coordinates.
But this alleged Gleichschaltung of contemporary locales shall not concern us today, because Arabica is the odd one out here, in Kreuzberg: the sleek, almost uncomfortable interior (“Inspired by Dieter Rams”), the mostly Japanese / Asian clientele and the refreshingly polite staff are improbable, if not impossible anywhere else in this part of town.
I highly enjoy the Iced Oat Matcha Lattes and the cold pressed Watermelon Jalapeno juice (weird, but it works). On the clear-cut and simple menu, you’ll find the best grilled cheese sandwich in this town, granola with store-made yogurt, porridge, scrambled eggs and more. Everything prepared with intricate detail, perfected for connaisseurs of the 21st century “don’t call it brunch” mindset.
rocket + basil
rocket + basil wed Persian flavors to breakfast and lunch classics. Located off Potsdamer Straße, r+b cater to those who enjoy breakfast for dinner (or dinner for breakfast) – late into the day. The mint colored space is flooded with sunlight with an al fresco dining option on nice days. On the menu: salads, bowls and sandwiches are standard canvasses, but then elevated by rich and complex Persian flavors to spicy, extraordinary, surprising and yet balanced. Culinary poetry assembled on a lunch plate. I only wish I had more excuses to lunch around Tiergarten.
I really enjoyed their interpretation of a club sandwich with chicken and sumac. But even a dish as simple as pancakes became outstanding thanks to the tangy barberries and the indulgent, just sweet enough composition.
I started loving the French café La Maison for their weekend wine pop ups with Club of Rhône, an online wine shop (based on membership) .
This interesting combination of café and wine bar easily seduced me: during the summer, the transition from coffee, croissants and cakes to Cremant, red wine and bruschetta was a seamless one. How beautiful! How thoughtful! I think I once spent six hours on the Maison terrace, which is the best place to watch life happen on the Landwehrkanal.
Although they started with a small menu, they’ve slowly expanded their breakfast menu from rich, French pastries to cakes, granola and french toast. The croissants are impeccable – and I don’t even like croissants! There’s also a daily rotating lunch inspired by French staples (quiches, soups. I personally adore the granola with a perfect balance of nuts and fruits.
Bonus points: La Maison opens early around 7 AM and closes at 6 PM.
A bakery rather than café and the source of great bread. While I prefer Sironi or Butter Lindner for most types of bread, Albatross’ cakes are fantastic and should not be dismissed.
I’ve never made it to their breakfast pop-ups (sold out quickly every goddamn time), but this may be what I’ve been looking for: a proper fine-dining breakfast concept disguised as traveling circus. Tickets go for adult money (around 50€) and the next stop is at Nobelhart & Schmutzig before the winter break.