Category Archives: Eating & Drinking

Curry & Chili – Currywurst with a kick in Berlin

Close up of Currywurst & Chips (Currywurst & Pommes) at Curry & Chili Berlin

As a general rule Currywurst is a sausage smothered in ketchup with a sprinkling of curry powder but the best Currywurstbuden take things a step further.  You could say that Curry & Chili on the corner of Osloer Strasse and Prinzenallee in Berlin Wedding has taken it several steps, as it lays claim to the title of Deutschlands schärfster Imbiss (Germany’s spiciest snack bar).

Curry & Chili, a Currywurst Imbiss in Berlin

Frank Spieß opened his Imbiss in 2005 with the intention of offering a 1 Euro takeout but rising costs meant he had to increase prices and led to him searching out a new concept.  Driven by his own passion for spicy food, Frank decided to offer 5 different levels of spiciness.

There are now 12 options on offer.  First, the standard Currywurst with a sprinkling of curry powder and then, with the addition of chilli flakes, what most Buden will serve when you ask for ‘ein bisschen shärfer’.

And that’s when it starts to get interesting.

The 10 Sauces in the window at Curry & Chili Berlin

The brave, or foolhardy depending on your viewpoint, can now opt to add one of 10 levels of spiciness from a range of sauces – from Crazy Jerry at 11,000 Scoville to the own-brand, Curry & Chili Gold Edition at 7,777,777 Scoville.

The 10 sauces (Stufen) on offer at Curry & Chili Berlin

Photo: Courtesy of Curry & Chili

I’ve been to Curry & Chili three times now and the spiciest Currywurst I have eaten is the Stufe 5 – 250,000 Scoville – and I’m pretty sure this is right on my limit.  It was a bit of an effort to eat the two sausages I had and I didn’t quite finish my chips.  It is worth noting that as well as changing the spiciness, the different sauces also have a considerable affect on the flavour of the Currywurst.

Obviously, there are plenty of people out there with a higher tolerance for spicy food or a greater desire to push themselves than me because the Curry & Chili Club, reserved for those who have eaten all 10 sauces, now boasts over 200 members.

The rules for anyone interested in joining (translated from the Curry & Chili website) are:

  1. All 10 levels must be eaten.
  2. All 10 must have been eaten within a 6-month timeframe.
  3. The sausage or chips must be eaten within sight of a Curry & Chili employee.
  4. The sauces can be eaten in any order but level 10 must be eaten last to complete the challenge.
  5. Membership is of course free of charge. Events for members will be displayed on the Curry & Chili website.

I’m pretty sure that this is the kind of challenge that would appeal to groups of men on a stag do (Junggesellenabschied) in Berlin or a ‘lads holiday’ but I have noticed that there are a number of female members too.

I think that the enjoyment is taken out of eating a Currywurst when your lips are burning and your eyes watering so I would definitely recommend working your way through the sauces to find your level.

Currywurst & Chips (Currywurst & Pommes) at Curry & Chili Berlin

Curry & Chili is definitely the place to go for Currywurst in Berlin if you would like to test your capacity for spicy food but the standard of the sausages and the ketchup, made fresh each day by Frank’s wife, mean that I would recommend it for a more leisurely and pleasant snack too.

Berlin Maps: Bars, Burgers and Christmas Markets

A stroke of genius from Giulia Pines kicked off a new trend in Berlin in November.  Her Berlin U-Bahn Bar Map for Thrillist inspired a number of other guides based on the Berlin transport map.  Best men the world over now have the perfect tool to plan a bar crawl in the German capital and the map will provide no end of inspiration for spontaneous after work drinks.  Thanks to the imitators you can also do a burger crawl or a Christmas Market marathon.

Thrillist’s Berlin U-Bahn Bar Map

This is the map that started it all.  Substituting the names of each of the S and U-Bahn stations inside the Berlin ring for a bar within 10 minutes walking distance, Giulia Pines created a guide that really captured Berliners’ imaginations.  Thrillist’s Berlin U-Bahn Bar Map was a massive social media hit and at the time of writing has over 35,000 likes on Facebook.

Thrillist Berlin U-Bahn Bar Map

Photo: Thrillist

Burger City Guide Map Berlin

The success of this simple and effective idea guaranteed a herd of copycats.  The Burger City Guide Map Berlin has a number of suggestions for several stations but others have been left blank.

Burger City Guide Map Berlin

Photo: Burger City Guide

Burgers and Hip Hop – U-Bahn Burger Map Berlin

Appearing in my social media feeds on the same day as The Burger City Guide Map Berlin, the U-Bahn Burger Map Berlin from the folks behind burger extravaganza Burgers and Hip Hop is a more comprehensive guide and will no doubt be responsible for a slew of broken diets.

U-Bahn Burger Map Berlin - Burgers and Hip Hop

Photo: Burgers and Hip Hop

Weihnachtsmarktfahrplan Berlin – Christmas Markets Map

An Amazing Earth magazine gave the map a festive twist with their Weihnachtsmarktfahrplan Berlin.  The city is awash with Christmas Markets and remembering where they are can be a bit tricky.  With this map you know you’ll never be far away from your next Glühwein.

Weihnachtsmarktfahrplan Berlin - a map of Christmas Markets from An Amazing Earth

Photo: An Amazing Earth magazine

Talking of Glühwein, this widely circulated meme (which I haven’t been able to track down a source for) will sum up the Christmas build up for thousands of Berliners.

Glühwein

Photo: Source unknown

BVG Transport Map

And finally…just in case you’ve forgotten what the original looks like here is Berlin’s S and U-Bahn map

Berlin Transport Map - BVG

Photo: BVG

Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap – Cult Favourite Döner in Berlin

Close up of Hähnchen Gemüse Döner at Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap in Berlin

Emerging from the U-Bahn station on the west side of Mehringdamm in Berlin Kreuzberg, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was the first day of the sales or that a famous celebrity is signing autographs but the long line of people you see are queuing for a Döner at Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap.

The queue at Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap in Berlin

Strolling down almost any street in the German capital you’ll find a handful of options for Berlin’s most popular snack options the Currywurst and the Döner Kebap.  Mustafa’s has been a cult favourite since it started selling a twist on the traditional kebab made with chicken and roasted vegetables.

Mustafa’s has appeared in numerous Berlin guide books and newspaper articles that guarantee it a steady stream of tourist trade to add to the local interest.

If that wasn’t enough, the guys made an advert.

All this adds up to spectacularly long queues.

Just walking along the pavement on Mehringdamm is difficult at times because the queues from Mustafa’s and another local legend Curry 36 often meet each other.

It’s not unusual to have to queue for 30 minutes or more.

The queue at Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap in Berlin The queue at Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap in Berlin

The big question: is it worth the wait?

I have to say that I’m a big fan of the Hähnchen Döner mit Gemüse (Chicken doner with vegetables).

As is the norm, there is a choice of three sauces: Kräuter (herb), Knoblauch (garlic), Scharf (spicy) and the usual array of salad.

For me though, it’s the finishing touches that make the kebabs here special.

The serving window Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap in Berlin

Firstly, shortly before serving a mystery liquid (Mustafa’s secret ingredient) is squeezed onto the meat and vegetables.

Hähnchen Gemüse Döner at Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap in Berlin

Then, the pièce de résistance a crumbling of Feta cheese and a squeeze of juice straight from the lemon add a freshness that elevates the Gemüse Kebap above the average Döner.

Whether it is worth standing in the queue for upwards of half an hour to get your hands on one really depends on how busy you are and what else you could be doing with your time.

The obvious question when confronted with such a popular spot is why there aren’t branches in every corner of Berlin.  There were outposts under Eberswalder Straße U-Bahnhof and on Oranienburger Straße near Hackescher Markt in 2012 but neither lasted unfortunately.

Other shops and stalls have popped up all over Berlin selling Gemüse Döner though so there are alternatives if you can’t face, or don’t have time, for the queues – I would recommend K’UPS Gemüse Kebap on Kastanianallee.

With so much hype surrounding a kebab shop it would be easy to write Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap off as a Berlin tourist trap but the truth is that the Döner here is something special – and they do say the best things in life are worth waiting for.

Agni Indian Restaurant – Highly Recommended For Curry in Berlin

Murgh Tikka Curry Close Up at Agni Indian Restaurant in Berlin

Spicy, tasty and authentic aren’t words often associated with Indian food in Berlin.  Finding a genuinely decent curry in the German capital isn’t easy let alone an exceptional one so after my first meal at Agni in Moabit I walked out with a ‘curry high’ that lasted for days.

It is unlikely that I would have found Agni without a recommendation – it is mentioned in the ‘Berlin’s Best Curry Houses’ post on Slow Travel Berlin – as it’s a nondescript looking storefront on a less than glamorous Moabit street.

The heady aroma of spices coming from the kitchen may have clouded my mind because, despite having read about it in advance, I was still a little shocked at how small the restaurant is. Four tables for 2 face the open kitchen with a further table under the counter.  With seating for 10 people in total, it’s safe to say that this isn’t a place to take a large group, though meals are available to take away.

My first experience at Agni was overwhelmingly positive.  Steffi, Bine and I were all drawn to the Tandoor (Variation 2) section of the menu – dishes described as ‘laid in traditional marinades and cooked in the clay oven – served on a banana leaf with rice, bread and a sauce’.

Chennai Tikka Curry at Agni Indian Restaurant in Berlin Murgh Tikka Curry at Agni Indian Restaurant in Berlin Paneer Tikka Jahangiri at Agni Indian Restaurant in Berlin

I opted for the Chennai Tikka Curry (37), Steffi had Murgh Tikka Curry (36) and Bine went for the Paneer Tikka Jahangiri (45).

Having chosen my curry because of the Madras sauce (described on the menu as ‘scharf’) I was a little surprised to find that Steffi’s was spicier (on reflection this is on account of the relative spiciness of the marinades).

As we left the restaurant, Steffi voiced her approval in her usual way ‘Das war lecker’ (that was tasty), she said, followed shortly by ‘Ich bin so voll’ (I’m so full).  Bine and I agreed.

On my latest visit I decided to try one of the Thalis, a selection of dishes served with rice, bread and salad – a kind of Indian tapas if you like – a good way to work my way through the menu in as few visits as possible.

I had the Amish Thali (83), which allowed me to choose three different Lamb and Chicken specialities (this was marked as Niramish Thali on the menu in the restaurant but I believe that would be a vegetarian dish).

Amish Thali Tray at Agni Indian Restaurant in Berlin Amish Thali Components at Agni Indian Restaurant in Berlin

I chose the Dilli Murgh (59) – tradional North Indian chicken curry, the Murgh Palak (63) – chicken fillet in spinach sauce and Chennai Gosht Curry (66) – lamb curry South Indian style (spicy).

The Thali came on a silver tray and everything was absolutely delicious but the Chennai Gosht was the standout dish.

Over the course of five visits there have been some slight differences in the taste and look of some of the dishes I have had that suggests they are cooked on instinct rather than following a strict recipe.  However, the food has always been of a consistently high quality and has never failed to deliver when it comes to flavour.  On each of those visits a small complementary starter has come with the drinks.

Complementary Starter at Agni Indian Restaurant in Berlin Papadam at Agni Indian Restaurant in Berlin

I will be very pleasantly surprised if this isn’t the best curry in Berlin – a visiting friend, who spent his university years in Bradford, the curry capital of England, gave Agni his nod of approval and when it comes to Indian food in Berlin it won’t get much better than that.

Burger Me: 6 of the Best Burgers in Berlin

Like just about everybody else in this city I’m constantly on the lookout for Berlin’s Best Burger.  Every time I think I have my list finalised a new place opens or someone recommends somewhere I haven’t heard of and I have to reshuffle it – that’s why this is ‘6 of the best’ not ‘the best’.

Discussions about the best burgers in Berlin can get quite intense and emotional so I’m sure some of you will be shouting at your screens when you get to the end of this post.

For now, these are my 6 top recommendations but I’ll update the list whenever I find a new favourite.

Clicking on the restaurant name will take you to a full post about it.

Da Birdhouse - the house burger at The Bird in Berlin

The Bird – Prenzlauer Berg / Kreuzberg
You will never forget your first burger at The Bird – a meat feast followed by a food coma. Eating here is a burger lover’s rite of passage. Booking recommended.
My Advice: The Kreuzberg outpost offers a lunch special – a single patty version of Da Birdhouse with fries and a soft drink or small beer for €7.50.

 

Chilli Cheeseburger at Berlin Burger International in NeuköllnBerlin Burger International (BBI) – Neukölln
BBI is barely more than a hole in the wall but there is plenty of outdoor seating, ideal for hot summer days. The burgers come loaded with mountains of toppings.
My Advice: Be sure to have some serviettes at the ready. There’s no way you’re eating one of the burgers here without making an almighty mess.

 

Chilli Cheeseburger and Süßkartoffel Pommes at Schiller Burger Berlin

Schiller Burger – Neukölln & others
The burgers at Schiller Burger have proven popular enough to warrant opening 4 locations across Berlin with a 5th in Pankow in the pipeline.
My Advice: The original Schillerkiez location is still the best. Get the Sweet Potato Pommes with the Aoili dip (smelly breath be damned).

 

Cheeseburger with Bacon and Fries (close up) at Tommi's Burger Joint BerlinTommi’s Burger Joint – Mitte
Tómas Andrés Tómasson, the man behind Tommi’s loves burgers so much he eats at least one every day – the burgers here are that good.
My Advice: The burgers are full of flavour but basic but you can add extras – as they say, everything’s better with bacon and don’t miss the ‘Extras bar’.

 

The De La Sauce Bao Burger at District Mot, a Vietnamese restaurant, in BerlinDistrict Một – Mitte
There’s only one burger on the menu at District Một – the De La Sauce. Served in a Banh Bao bap this Vietnamese fusion burger is a 3 times winner of the Burgers n Hip Hop best burger vote.
My Advice: Check out the ‘For the Exotic Tongue’ section of the menu – Deep-fried silkworm anyone?

 

The Buckshot at Piri's Chicken Burgers in Berlin

Piri’s Chicken Burgers – Kreuzberg
From Portugal via Sydney, Piri’s brings a much-needed dose of fiery chilli goodness to Berlin. ‘The Buckshot’ is a wonderful cheese steak creation.
My Advice: If you’re feeling brave, try the Trauma sauce but remember softly, softly catchee monkey as Henry Kelly would say.

 

If anyone has any recommendations for a burger joint I have to try please let me know in the comments.

Piri’s Chicken Burgers – Spicing Up Berlin’s Burger Scene

Piri Burger Close Up at Piri's Chicken Burgers in Berlin

One of the most common complaints amongst newcomers to Berlin is a lack of spicy food options.  With the opening of Piri’s Chicken Burgers on Wiener Strasse in Kreuzberg, chilli-lovers now have one more go to destination to feel the burn.

Piri Piri (or Peri Peri) is a spicy sauce, Portuguese in origin, and a favourite of Jordi and Jules, the brains behind Piri’s Chicken Burgers.

Jordi and Jules at Piri's Chicken Burgers Berlin

Photo: Piri’s Chicken Burgers via Instagram

The pair are school friends from Sydney, where, Jordi tells me, Portuguese restaurants are commonplace thanks to an established immigrant population.

When Jordi came to Berlin he spotted a gap in the market.  “There weren’t really any places selling Piri Piri chicken here”, he says, “and we realised if we wanted to eat it, we’d have to make it ourselves”.

His business partner Jules, who has been in Berlin for the last 8 years is no stranger to the restaurant scene here, having opened the popular Mexican restaurants Santa Maria, Maria Bonita (now run by one of his former business partners, Trey Wright) and Maria Peligro (which has since closed).

Piri’s Chicken Burgers debuted at Burgers n Hip Hop in January, where Jules’s efforts, cooking burgers in the snow were rewarded with a second place in the ‘best burgers’ voting.

There was some fine-tuning in March at the rain-affected St Patrick’s Day parade and the Kreuzberg location finally opened its doors on the last weekend in May.

Piri's Chicken Burgers in Berlin

Getting the restaurant ready for opening, Jordi explains took a little longer than expected – there was a bit more work to be done to get the kitchen ship-shape than first hoped.

Menu at Piri's Chicken Burgers in Berlin

The menu is limited to five burger options: The Priri, a breaded chicken burger; The Mojo, ‘same as the Piri but twice as big'; The Buckshot, with cheese steak; The Fiction, a Tofu option for vegetarians; and The Rockness Monstah, with Piri’s extra spicy Trauma sauce.

The buns are bought in from Schiller Burger.  “We could buy cheaper”, Jordi says, “but they’re the best in Berlin.  We want to give people food that they’re going to come back for”.

And the food here certainly is worth coming back for.

Piri Burger In Progress at Piri's Chicken Burgers in Berlin Piri Burger at Piri's Chicken Burgers in Berlin

The Piri burger is a mountain of breaded chicken with Piri sauce, mayonnaise, cheese and iceberg lettuce, €5 on its own, or €7.50 as a menu with a side of Pommes and a soft drink or a small beer.

The chicken is succulent breast meat and the piri sauce has the right level of spice to make things interesting without setting your mouth on fire.

Cheese Steak on the Grill at Piri's Chicken Burgers in Berlin The Buckshot at Piri's Chicken Burgers in Berlin

The star of the show for me though is The Buckshot, chopped steak and cheese with bacon, sautéed red onions, pickle, tomato, iceberg lettuce and Chipotle mayonnaise €6 and €8.50 for the menu.

When I ask for the Trauma sauce on my Pommes, Jules warns me that it’s really spicy (he’s not wrong).  It’s tasty but certainly only to be eaten in moderation.  My advice: dip a chip and give it a go.  In this case, if you go big you probably will go home.

For me, the Pommes are the one element where there is room for improvement.  They’re OK but no better than that – homemade fries or sweet potato fries would take things to the next level.

Free Beer at Piri's Chicken Burgers in Berlin

It is no surprise to me when Jordi tells me that feedback for the food has been on the whole positive “though some people have complained that they weren’t warned about the spiciness of the dishes. Have you seen our logo?  It’s a skull on a chilli with flames.  What do people expect?”

Logo at Piri's Chicken Burgers in Berlin

Piri’s Chicken Burgers is a welcome addition to what is already a bewildering choice of burger options in Berlin.  The fiery sauces won’t suit everyone but if you would like a milder version, just ask – the guys will be happy to accommodate you.

Curry Baude – Lecker Currywurst in Berlin Gesundbrunnen

Close Up of Currywurst and Chips (Pommes) at Curry Baude in Berlin Gesundbrunnen

Reina Lehmann has been serving Currywurst to the people of Berlin at Curry Baude, his Bude (kiosk) outside U-Bhf Gesundbrunnen, since 1989.

Herr Lehmann prides himself on serving quality food – the sausages and sauces are all homemade with the finest ingredients.

Curry Baude Currywurst Kiosk in Berlin Gesundbrunnen

Currywurst is €1.50 and available with or without skin (mit oder ohne Darm) and the Pommes (chips/fries) €1.20 (or €1.30 with ketchup and mayonnaise).  My drink of choice here is a Schultheiss ‘Bombe’ (a 330ml bottle) that will set you back €1.10.

My usual order is 2 x Currywurst mit Darm and Pommes, which I ask for ‘ein bisschen schärfer’ (a little spicier), all washed down with the previously mentioned Schultheiss.

Currywurst and Chips (Pommes) at Curry Baude in Berlin Gesundbrunnen

For me, this is the tastiest Currywurst in Berlin, the ‘top dog’, the ‘best of the Wurst’ if you like.  The sauce, like my previous favourite at zur Bratpfanne, is a blended spicy tomato sauce rather than the ketchup with a sprinkling of curry powder served at many of the cities Buden.

The pommes are nicely cooked – crunchy as you bite into them and soft and fluffy inside. The food is served up piping hot in no time at all.

I haven’t tried it but the locals rave about the Currywurst Spezial, made with sweetcorn, peppers and ‘Zigeunersauce’ – a sweeter alternative to the standard sauce – for €1.80.

Whether you are a ‘Currywurst connoisseur’ or you’ve tried one of the sweet ketchup versions at one of Berlin’s more touristy spots and decided Currywurst isn’t for you, I suggest you head out to U-Bhf Gesundbrunnen and eat the real deal at Curry Baude.

District Một – Saigon Street Food in Berlin

The 'street vendor' kitchen at District Mot, a Vietnamese restaurant, in Berlin

Like everyone else in the city it would seem, I’m always on the lookout for Berlin’s Best Burger so when I saw that the Bao Burger ‘De La Sauce’ from District Một was the three times winner of the Burgers and Hip Hop event organised by Stil in Berlin, I had to try it.

Street Food is one of the buzzwords of the moment and though I’ve never been to Vietnam, it’s obvious that the whole restaurant has been decorated to resemble a Saigon street market – quirky but stylish.  Corrugated panels, a backlit wall made from beer bottles, lanterns, a light made from a plastic fuel container and the coloured plastic stools are among the memorable features of the standout interior.

'Banh Bao' a light made from a plastic fuel container at District Mot, a Vietnamese restaurant, in Berlin Gladioli flowers at District Mot, a Vietnamese restaurant, in Berlin A backlit wall made of beer bottles at District Mot, a Vietnamese restaurant, in Berlin

I found it a little strange that we were seated with a lone diner when there were so many free tables in the restaurant but this may be an attempt to replicate the authentic street dining experience.  Other diners, I noticed, also found this unusual and asked for a table to themselves.

As my main objective was to try the burger, I had to resist the temptation of lots of other dishes on the menu, though I’m not sure I’d like to try the Nhộng chiên bộ (deep-fried silkworm, buttered) and the other items in the ‘For The Exotic Tongue’ section.

I chose the Khoai lang chiên (crispy deep-fried Sweet Potato with dip) to accompany my burger and Steffi plumped for the Summer Rolls as a starter.

The De La Sauce Burger (€6) is described on the menu as a ‘steamed “Banh Bao” wheat rice cake bun, 120 gram beef patty, Vietnamese pickled vegetables, pickled red onions, roasted Sesame, fresh coriander, Soy bean skin, fresh Mango with 3 homemade sauces (garlic mayonnaise from an egg yolk base, caramelized fish sauce and red curry sauce).’

The De La Sauce Bao Burger at District Mot, a Vietnamese restaurant, in Berlin

Reading the long list of ingredients, the one thing I wasn’t sure about was the slice of mango. I’m not a fan of ‘sweet and sour’, in fact I have what borders on an aversion and so I wasn’t sure how I’d react to fruit on my burger.  I was very pleasantly surprised – I thought it gave the De La Sauce a balanced and distinctive flavour.

Our food arrived quickly but as we were eating before 18:00 on a Friday evening the restaurant wasn’t busy.

Summer Rolls at District Mot, a Vietnamese restaurant, in Berlin

The Summer Rolls were good but not able to beat the flavour of Steffi’s favourites at Viet Village, just down the road from District Mot. I was surprised when the Sweet Potato, which was tasty but a little greasy, was round rather than cut as chips/pommes/fries.

Sweet Potato with dip at District Mot, a Vietnamese restaurant, in Berlin

Overall, I would say that the food at District Mot was very good – the De La Sauce, is currently set for a place on an upcoming best burgers in Berlin post – but thought that it was a little overpriced.

The International Berlin Beer Festival – Craft Beer on the Biermeile

The crowd at the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival)

It’s International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival) time in Berlin so this weekend is the perfect time to expand your drinking horizons whilst you catch some sun.

Karl-Marx-Allee during the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival)

Now in it’s 18th year, the festival takes over the 2.2km stretch of Karl-Marx-Allee from Strausberger Platz to Frankfurter Tor (the Biermeile) and 240 breweries from 87 countries are serving 2,400 different beers.

A Mobile Brewery at the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival) Craft Beer Sign at the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival) Englische Biere (English Beers) stand at the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival)

The motto of the 2014 event is “craft-brewed beer specials”.  Craft beer is a real buzzword at the moment and there is a huge appetite in Berlin for beers that depart from the German tradition and the strict laws of the Rheinheitsgebot.

Störtebecker Strandkorb (Beach Basket) at the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival)

Beer Contraption at the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival)

Buildings on Karl-Marx-Allee during the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival) If you would like to sample a lot of different beers I would suggest that you buy a glass – €3.50 at one of the Information stalls.  A 0.2l refill at any of the beer stands will then cost you €2 and you don’t need to queue to get your Pfand (deposit) back.

Sunset at the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival)

Beer fans should download Untappd to keep track of the beers they taste – the app allows you to rate and comment on the beer you drink, with the option to add photos to your ‘untaps’ and the usual social features.  If you’re on Untappd you can find me – andberlin.

Brauerei Zwönitzer India Pale Ale at the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival)

My beer recommendations? My favourite beer of the evening was the India Pale Ale from Brauerei Zwönitz – their stall is towards the Frankfurter Tor end of the Biermeile.  For fans of Weissbier, a friend told me (enthusiastically and repeatedly) that the Weisse from Hofbräuhaus Traunstein is the best in the world – you can find it at U-Bahnhof Strausberger Platz.

The eighteenth International Berlin Beer Festival (18. Internationales Berliner Bierfestival) is on from 1 to 3 August 2014.

Tommi’s Burger Joint – From Reykjavik to Berlin

Cheeseburger with Bacon and Fries (close up) at Tommi's Burger Joint Berlin

Tommi’s Burger Joint, the Icelandic burger chain, opened its first restaurant in Germany at Invalidenstrasse 160, Berlin on 9 May 2014, six months behind schedule.  The delays were blamed on German bureaucracy but had the positive effect of building anticipation amongst Berlin burger lovers.

Tómas Andrés Tómasson, the 65-year-old founder who gives his name to the venture has a long history in the restaurant and hotel industries.  He opened his first burger joint, Tommahamborgarar (Tommi’s Hamburgers) in Reykjavik in 1981 but decided to sell up in 1983, having sold over 1 million burgers and expanded the business to include 6 locations.

After spending six months travelling around the world, Tommi returned to Iceland in 2003 and realised that he needed to make money.  “No way!” was his initial reaction when friends suggested he go back to the burger business.

Thankfully he changed his mind.

He enlisted the help of Kristín Gunnarsdóttir to take care of the interior design, which intentionally gave the (false) impression of a burger joint that had been running for years, with a laidback feel.

The Tommi’s franchise now boasts 6 restaurants in Iceland, 2 in London, 1 in Copenhagen and the latest offering in Berlin.

Cardboard sign at Tommi's Burger Joint Berlin

On the opening day in Berlin, the burgers were free.  Having failed to take advantage of the giveaway I was determined to put things right on day 2 when burgers were half price.

Menu at Tommi's Burger Joint Berlin

The menu at Tommi’s is kept deliberately simple.  There’s a choice of: Burger, Cheeseburger, Veggie Burger, or Steak Burger, with the additional option to add extras, the most important of which is bacon.

The ‘Offer of the Century’ combines a burger, fries and a soft drink for €8.90 (there is also beer available, including the Icelandic brew, Viking Gylltur).

Viking Gylltur Beer at Tommi's Burger Joint Berlin

They also serve killer milkshakes – rich and creamy, I’d recommend the Chocolate.

Orders are placed at the counter.

The burgers are cooked on an American gas grill, which is the reason for the enticing and hunger-inducing chargrill aroma that wafts over you as you walk in the door.  They are served in a deliciously soft, slightly sweet-tasting bun, with a little iceberg lettuce, sliced ​​tomato and chopped onion; along with ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise.  The whole thing is then wrapped in paper.

The chips / fries / pommes (depending on your nationality) are thin cut and crispy and come with a serving of Béarnaise sauce.

Cheeseburger with Bacon and Fries at Tommi's Burger Joint Berlin

Burger and fries are brought to you in a basket having established your whereabouts by shouting your name.

Under the black and white portrait of a bearded man (Tommi) that hangs on the wall opposite the kitchen is an extras bar.  Here you can add Jalapeños, onions, pickles and numerous sauces of varying spiciness.

Tommi (Tomas Tomasson) Portrait at Tommi's Burger Joint Berlin

Pimp Your Burger sign at Tommi's Burger Joint Berlin

Extras Bar at Tommi's Burger Joint Berlin

I missed this on my first visit and commented to Gilly that the only thing missing for me was a spicy kick.  Thankfully, by my second visit I was aware of what is probably the most important feature of the restaurant thanks to this post on Berlin Loves You.

I have to say that I’m a big fan – I went 3 times in the first week.

And I’m not the only one.  The fact that Tommi’s Burger Joint Berlin has managed to accumulate 1200 likes on its Facebook page in the 11 weeks it has been open is testament to the quality of the food and the strength of the brand.

Cardboard Signs at Tommi's Burger Joint Berlin

Tiles at Tommi's Burger Joint Berlin

As well as serving top-notch food, the service is quick and friendly; even during the busiest times and the tiled and mirrored walls (that remind me of a butcher’s shop) are part of a décor that is effortlessly cool.  The soundtrack of classics from the likes of Elton John, the Beatles and Frank Sinatra contributes to the relaxed and convivial atmosphere.

Tommi has eaten at least one burger every day since he launched over 10 years ago.  He is quoted as saying:

“If you stop to think about it, what’s in a burger? It’s good beef, bread, lettuce and tomatoes with ketchup, mustard and a little mayonnaise.”

So, whilst I wouldn’t necessarily recommend a Tommi-level burger habit, why not adopt his philosophy that a burger is healthy and head to Tommi’s Burger Joint in Berlin for one of the best burgers the city has to offer.