[Berlin, Germany] Roaring Burger Culture, Burgermeister vs Bird Restaurant

8 01 2014

I was in Berlin for the New Year and I gotta say that that’s a terrible time to be there as a foodie, mainly because:

  1. many restaurants close for the year end holidays.
  2. tourists flock to such capital cities for New Year celebrations and parties and increase demand for the already reduced supply of dining options
  3. restaurants take the opportunity to up their prices for New Year Menus

Luckily for me, I was there for a good 7 nights, so I could wait it out till New Year was over before indulging in the more extravagant restaurants but in the meantime, I found cheaper (but not necessarily less enjoyable) alternatives to tide me over. Thus, I embarked on an adventure to discover the best burgers in town. Unfortunately, it was short-lived as I soon developed a sore throat.

It’s clear that Berlin’s burger culture is alive and thriving. Within Tripadvisor’s top 20 most highly rated restaurants, two are actually burger joints, Burgermeister and Bird Restaurant, both of which will be the topic of discussion for today.

You know how the saying goes that the dirtier a food stall, the nicer the food from there tastes. The same can be said of Burgermeister. The eatery is located under train tracks with a grungy dark interior. Yet, you still see queues forming everyday of the week. I was here on a Monday evening and I still had to wait an hour just to get a simple burger and fries.

Queue from outside Burgermeister

Queue inside Burgermeister

The key draw about Burgermeister is the value aspect. An average burger here costs about 4 Euros and a bottle of beer a mere 1.50 Euros. Many claim that it serves the best burger in town but I choose to disagree. No doubt, the burgers here are very decent but something still seemed to be lacking, perhaps it was the over-greasiness that got to me, or the fact that the beef patty could have been more succulent.

Meisterburger (4.30 Euros)

Sides can also be ordered separately. The cheese fries here was of average quality, nothing to rave about.

Cheese Fries (2.20 Euros)

Burgermeister

Oberbaumstrasse 8, 10997 Berlin

Tel: +49 30 2388 3840

While not a direct competitor due to the price differential, I found the burgers at the Bird Restaurant far superior in quality and taste.

Bar seats at Bird Restaurant

I had the house burger called Da Birdhouse (11.50 Euros). It’s a double burger with bacon, grilled onions, ketchup, mustard, sour cucumber and if Google has translated it’s German description from the menu correctly, it’s also “bold enough to kill a donkey”. I’m 50% confident that that’s really what is written on the menu because the restaurant (and it’s menu) evidently attempts to portray a stance of anti-establishment, eg loose use of words and signs on the wall that writes stuff like “if it’s tourist season, why can’t we shoot them?”.

What I liked best about the burger is that it delivered exactly what was promised on the menu, a heaping 250g slab of beef patties which, to put in perspective, is more beef than the sum of 2 McDonald’s Quarter-pounders. As an added bonus, the restaurant also gives the choice of how cooked you want your meat to be. Personally, I’m a huge fan of caramelized onions and the generous use of it in this burger was also a treat. The chips on the side were also unbelievably tasty, one of the best I have had in fact.

Da Birdhouse (11.50 Euros)

There are only two ways to secure a seat here. First is of course, make a reservation! Second would be to arrive here before 5.30pm and hope that there are seats at the bar available for walk in customers. This joint is insanely popular so expect long waiting times of between 30mins to an hour for your burgers. There are days (which I experienced first-hand) where the restaurant even refused to take down takeaway orders due to the long list of orders from within the restaurant!

Bird Restaurant

Am Falkplatz 5, 10437 Berlin

Tel: +49 30 5105 3283





[Berlin, Germany] Tim Raue – Asian Fusion Confusion

5 01 2014

Food aside, Tim Raue has the unlikely makings of a Michelin 2-Star restaurant. First off, the entrance of the restaurant does not face the main street but is hidden in a nondescript courtyard (or parking lot, euphemisms aside). I initially wondered if I had accidentally stumbled into a residential premise as I navigated my way in. Secondly, the staff while friendly and professional, are all given standard issue sneakers (think White Converses) to match their formal blazers. Well, hot pink blazers for the gals doesn’t scream formal. Lastly, the ambiance of the restaurant doesn’t scream fine-dining with its rather minimalistic oak decor. That said, I gladly embraced the obvious attempts to downplay the fine-dining aspect of the restaurant and immediately felt more at home.

I was first given a set of complimentary appetizers (Curried Cashews, Pickles in Wasabi Sauce, Japanese Cucumbers, Seaweed wrapped in Daikon) to nibble on while deciding on my courses.

I opted for a 3-Course Lunch, priced at 38 Euros, which was very much a steal and prompted my visit in the first place. Diners are allowed to choose from a list of appetizers, mains and desserts to make up the 3 courses regardless of the category, meaning that you can effectively order 3 mains. Do note that certain items on the menu do require additional supplements of between 8 to 12 Euros.

If 3-Courses isn’t enough or if you want to take the rare opportunity to try more things on the menu, additional courses can be added for 10 Euros each.

For starters, I had the Dim Sum “Partridge, Mache and Black Truffle” which I found pretty disappointing. The dumpling skin was much too thick and doughy in my view, while the black truffle sauce was excruciating savoury and overwhelmed the subtle partridge.

For main, I had the Peking Duck Interpretation (additional supplement of 12 Euros), a signature dish of the restaurant. It came as an ensemble of 3 items to be eaten in succession, starting with the Crispy Duck Breast over Bread Stuffed with Apples and Leek, followed by the Duck Liver Terrine with Leek & Ginger Mousse and ending off with the Duck Consomme with Duck Heart, Stomach and Tongue. In larger portions, this could have been a meal in itself which I would have gladly accepted.

Of the trio, I found the soup to be the most interesting, tasting like a blend of very rich turtle soup and braised duck sauce from Singapore hawker stalls. It was my first time having duck tongue and I thought it was pretty awesome, possessing a texture of smooth duck skin without the ensuing fattiness.

For dessert, I had the Mango, Vanilla & Kardamon. Kardamon is a type of plant similar to Ginger and I believe it was used to make the little meringue balls. Didn’t quite see how it fitted into the overall picture though. Overall, the dessert was pleasant but nothing to shout about. The aesthetics was probably the highlight of the dish.

I was also given a complimentary dessert of Iced Apple with Coriander Cream, which came together with the bill. Oddly, there also seemed to be Shredded Purple Cabbage inside, which I found to be superfluous and should be left at the doner kebap stands.

In one word, the whole experience here was interesting. Interesting is an interesting adjective because it hardly describes whether something had turned out great or bloody horrendous. For me, the food and staff outfits were interesting, with some courses bordering on unusual rather than tasty. Frankly for the price paid, I held greater expectations.

Tim Raue

Rudi-dutschke-str 26

Tel: +49 30 2593 7930








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