Tag Archives: Food

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.

Trattoria del Corso – Exceptional Italian food outside the Berlin Ring

Close up of Lamb Rump Steak at Trattoria del Corso (Italian restaurant) Berlin

If you’ve got cravings for incredible Italian food in Berlin and don’t want to break the bank, I’d recommend you check out Trattoria del Corso, a large and popular restaurant on the Hauptstrasse in Friedenau.

Where’s Friedenau you ask? Sandwiched between Schöneberg and Steglitz, it may not be a part of Berlin you’re familiar with but believe me, if you’re willing to venture (400m) outside the ring, you’ll be rewarded at Trattoria del Corso with some of the best Italian food in Berlin.

Trattoria del Corso (Italian restaurant) Berlin

If you’re lucky, on a Berlin summer evening, you’ll get a table on the terrace to the side of the restaurant, covered with a series of large, white sun umbrellas.  The waiting staff here are busy so don’t expect overly attentive service but they are friendly and generally efficient.

As in many Italian restaurants fresh bread is brought to the table with the drinks.  It’s wonderfully soft and fluffy with a crisp and flavourful crust.  Olive oil and Balsamico Vinegar are provided on the table for dipping.

Fresh bread at Trattoria del Corso (Italian restaurant) Berlin

The menu has a wide selection of Antipasti, Salads, Pizzas and Pasta dishes and don’t forget to check out the chef’s recommendations – an assortment of specials that changes weekly.

Unless you haven’t eaten for a week or plan to roll home I would suggest skipping the starters – the portions here are generous.

The pizzas are massive – so big in fact that the plates can’t contain them and you’ll need to bring your appetite to finish a whole one. As prices range from €6.80 to €8.30 this represents exceptional value for money.  If you’re a fan of the spicy kick of chillies you’ll fall in love with the spicy pizza oil – the good news if you do is that you can take a bottle home for €12.50.

Pizza Diavola topped with an egg at Trattoria del Corso (Italian restaurant) Berlin

On a recent visit, Steffi opted to have the Pizza Diavola topped with an egg – the waiter didn’t bat an eyelid at the request and the total price was €8.30.  The only disappointment, Steffi hadn’t brought her A-game and couldn’t eat it all!

Lamb Rump Steak at Trattoria del Corso (Italian restaurant) Berlin

I chose the Lamb Rump Steak with Rosemary potatoes and beans from the chef’s recommendations.  The meat was perfectly cooked.  It was tender and succulent and complemented perfectly by the vegetables and a light jus.  I had no problem clearing my plate but felt full and satisfied afterwards.

So, make the most of the extensive and relatively inexpensive transport system in Berlin, take the S-Bahn (S41 / S42 / S45 / S46) or U-Bahn (U4) to Innsbrucker Platz, and treat yourself to delicious Italian food at Trattoria del Corso.

Schiller Burger Berlin

Chilli Cheeseburger and Süßkartoffel Pommes at Schiller Burger Berlin

I’m certainly not the only one, but since I arrived here I’ve been trying to find Berlin’s Best Burger and, for me, Schiller Burger is one of the best.

As they recently opened a third Berlin location, I’m obviously not the only one who thinks so.

A common theme runs through the décor at the three locations: Herrfurthstrasse 7 in Neukölln; Schönleinstrasse 34 in Kreuzberg; and Wühlichstrasse 41/42 in Friedrichshain.

Menu and Counter at Schiller Burger Herrfurthstrasse Berlin

Neon Lit Interior at Schiller Burger Wühlichstrasse Berlin

Schiller Burger Wühlichstrasse Berlin Menu

As all three have limited indoor seating, it is worth noting that it is possible to take burgers from the Schiller Burger on Herrfurthstrasse to the Schiller Café a little further along the street – handy in the winter months.

When the sun is shining there are also lots of outdoor seats along the pavement here and Tempelhofer Feld is just around the corner if a summer burger picnic is your thing.

Schiller Burger Herrfurthstrasse Berlin

My burger of choice at Schiller Burger is the Chilli Cheeseburger (referred to on the menu as the Wallenstein).

There are slight variations between the burgers at the various locations in Berlin – the Chilli Cheeseburger, for instance, comes with Nachos at the Friedrichshain restaurant.

The basic idea is the same though – juicy, medium-cooked beef, cheese, salad and the kick of a generous serving of Jalapeños in a homemade bun (which is certainly part of what elevates this burger).

Chilli Cheeseburger at Schiller Burger Berlin Close-Up

Another of the big draws of Schiller Burger for me is their Süßkartoffel Pommes (Sweet Potato Fries), which have an extra crunchy texture and a sweet flavour that enhances my enjoyment of the spicy burger.

Süßkartoffel Pommes (Sweet Potato Fries) at Schiller Burger Berlin Close-up

To complete the ultimate threesome I add the Aioli – a garlicy punch that ensures maximum enjoyment and knock your socks off breath afterwards.

And to wash all that down I’d recommend a Bayreuther Hell.

Luckily for burger fans, Berlin seems to be teeming with top-notch burger joints, and Schiller Burger is up there with the best.

Gemüse Kebap in Prenzlauer Berg

Gemüse Kebap (Chicken Döner) Berlin Prenzlauer Berg Close Up

A viable alternative to the long queues at Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap (and for me the schlep to Kreuzberg), the simply named, Gemüse Kebap has opened on Kastanienallee in Prenzlauer Berg.

Legend has it that the Döner Kebap (or Doner Kebab) was invented in Kreuzberg so it’s no surprise that it is one of Berlin’s most popular snacks.

Serving a variation on the traditional lamb or veal (a combination of chicken and roasted vegetables with the usual trimmings), Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap, is one of the city’s most popular Dönerbuden.  As Mustafa’s has been in numerous Berlin guidebooks and has rightly gained a solid reputation, and achieved a kind of cult status, eating there normally involves a considerable wait.

Gemüse Kebap on Kastanienallee has two advantages over its more famous rival:

  1. Indoor seating: particularly welcome during a Berlin winter.  The tables and chairs are repurposed wooden pallets.
  2. A significantly shorter wait: that could well change though when word gets around.

On my two visits to Gemüse Kebap, my Döner was ready within just a few minutes and bang on the money for flavour.  The meat and vegetables were well cooked and seasoned, the salad fresh, the sauce spicy and the finishing touches – crumbled Feta cheese and a squeeze of lemon – for me, the crowning glory.

Gemüse Kebap (Chicken Döner) Berlin Prenzlauer Berg Close Up

Like Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap, the new Gemüse Kebap in Prenzlauer Berg may well benefit from its proximity to another of Berlin’s landmark eateries.  The queues for Mustafa’s sometimes stretch along Mehringdamm to Curry 36, whilst Gemüse Kebap is only a short distance from another of Berlin’s most popular Currywurst BudenKonnopke’s Imbiß.

For me, the only thing missing at Gemüse Kebap is beer but there are a number of Spätis on Kastanienallee so the beer drinker’s thirst can be easily satisfied.  And it’s also very near Berlin’s oldest BiergartenPrater Garten – so in the summer, a Kebap will be the perfect food for soaking up a few Feierabend beers.

Photos From My Phone – May

Here are my May highlights from Berlin as illustrated by the photos I took with my phone.  Some of these photos have appeared in my Twitter feed, on my Facebook page or my Instagram account.

Early in May I went back to Burger de Ville and tried the Funky Pommes, which come drizzled in Garlic butter and topped with parsley – I recommend you try them for yourself.

Funky Pommes at Burger de Ville in Berlin

I finally made it to see the Wannsee in daylight and it was so good I made a second trip and both times I stopped for a drink in the Biergarten at Loretta am Wannsee.

Beer in the Biergarten at Loretta am Wannsee

And I was joined by an uninvited guest…

Hornet  on a beer glass in the Biergarten at Loretta am Wannsee

Street Food Thursday has become one of the highlights of my week and I was back again almost every week in May.  The sandwiches at Big Stuff Smoked BBQ are just that good.

Pork Belly Sandwich from Big Stuff Smoked BBQ at Street Food Thursday at Markthalle IX in Berlin

I spotted this drunk Octopus looking for a fight at Burgeramt

Drunk Octopus looking for a fight at Burgeramt in Berlin

A brief spell of sunny weather (a false summer) meant that the flowers started to bloom in all their glory.

Summer Blooms in Berlin

I took a wander around the Hansaviertel for the first time in ages and marvelled at the architecture.

Balconies in the Hansaviertel in Berlin

Mauerpark is only a short walk from my flat so I made my first (of many) visits of the summer to the Bearpit Karaoke.

Bearpit Karaoke at Mauerpark in Berlin

I spotted a beautiful old Ford Falcon parked on Paul-Lincke-Ufer…

Ford Falcon Details

And I was back at Mauerpark to take in the sunset

Sunset From Mauerpark in Berlin

Fingers crossed and thumbs pressed (even though doing both at the same time is painful) that June’s selection will involve a lot more sunshine.

Big Stuff Smoked BBQ at Markthalle IX Berlin

The logo of Big Stuff Smoked BBQ in Markthalle IX Berlin

Big Stuff Smoked BBQ in the Markthalle IX in Kreuzberg should be a Mecca for Berlin meat lovers.  The sandwiches are mouth-wateringly spectacular – so tasty in fact, that looking at the pictures while I type this is almost too much to bear.

The star of the show at Big Stuff Smoked BBQ is undoubtedly the meat, which has been slow cooked to the point where it is melt-in-the-mouth tender, juicy and succulent but the sauces and accompaniments play a commendable supporting role.  The buns are organic, handmade in Berlin and based on a traditional Scottish recipe.

Pulled Pork Sandwich at Big Stuff Smoked BBQ in Markthalle IX Berlin

On my first visit I went for the Pulled Pork sandwich for €5.50, which came with BBQ sauce, slices of apple and salad leaves.

I would always recommend taking the staff’s advice on what to have in your sandwich.

Beef Brisket Sandwich at Big Stuff Smoked BBQ in Markthalle IX Berlin

Last time, I went for the Beef Brisket sandwich, which costs €6 and came with a spicy BBQ sauce, Sauerkraut and pickles.

Feeling particularly hungry I opted to go back for seconds and this time chose the Pork Belly sandwich, the most expensive of the three at €7, accompanied by pickles and BBQ sauce.

Pork Belly Sandwich at Big Stuff Smoked BBQ in Markthalle IX Berlin

It turned out my eyes were bigger than my belly – don’t be fooled by the size of the buns, as you can see they are overflowing with meat – despite my big appetite I had to call on Steffi to help me out.

There is also a Meat Platter on the menu but I haven’t tried that yet.  There’s always next time.

If you are eating at Big Stuff Smoked BBQ I would recommend washing down your sandwich with a beer from Heiden Peters.  I’ve been very impressed with the Pale Ale and the Weizen that I have had there in the last couple of weeks.

There is a warning on the Big Stuff Smoked BBQ Facebook page:

Please note: our food takes endless hours to cook, so when it’s over it’s over.  Come hungry and come early.

Big Stuff Smoked BBQ is only open from Thursday to Saturday and always seems busy – I guess those in the know are determined to get their fix.  I have been the last two weeks during the new weekly Berlin event, Street Food Thursday at Markthalle IX – and the queue has snaked around the corner of the booth – always a sign of good quality.

Five Elephant – Sublimely Good New York Cheesecake in Berlin

The sign at Five Elephant Berlin

When Steffi and Bine told me that they had driven from Charlottenburg to Prenzlauer Berg just to get the New York Cheesecake at The Bird it got me wondering where you get the best New York Cheesecake in Berlin.  I started to draw up a list and the first place to go on it was Five Elephant.

On Reichenberger Strasse in Kreuzberg, in their own words:

Five Elephant is a specialty coffee micro roastery, bakery and cafe in Berlin, Germany. Passionate about quality, our goal is to source the best coffees in the world in a way that is both socially and environmentally responsible.

You can read more about Five Elephant’s approach to sourcing and brewing their coffee on their website and Facebook page.

All this is lost on me because I’m not a coffee drinker so it’s lucky that Steffi had come along, tempted by the prospect of excellent Cheesecake, and sampled a Cappuccino (very good).  I have to admit that it looked great but coffee is just not for me.

Cappuccino at Five Elephant Berlin

And the Cheesecake? It was as good as it looks, if not better.

New York Cheesecake at Five Elephant Berlin

The top was rich and creamy and light and the biscuit base sweet and crunchy – so crunchy in fact that I somehow managed to get some in my pocket.

As well as the stellar desserts and great coffee, Five Elephant is in a great spot.  It’s just a short walk from the Landwehrkanal and what is arguably the most instagrammed view in Berlin – equally stunning in snow and sun.

The Landwehrkanal from Hobrechtbrücke on a snowy Berlin day

The Landwehrkanal from Hobrechtbrücke on a sunny Berlin day

For me, the New York Cheesecake at Five Elephant in Berlin is as close as a dessert can come to Heaven so it’s going to take some beating but I’m still going to continue my quest for Berlin’s best New York Cheesecake.

Berlin Burger International (BBI)

Berlin Burger International (BBI) in Neukölln

Berlin Burger International (BBI) has been on my to-do list so long that I can’t even remember where I heard about it – I just remember hearing that the burgers are amazing.

I was heading to Neukölln last week to check out an abandoned Children’s Hospital and had woken up with a burger craving so I decided to make a pit stop on the way.

Berlin Burger International is on Pannierstrasse not far from the corner with Sonnenallee so an easy walk from U-Bhf Hermannplatz.

Indoor seating is at a premium at BBI and knowing this I decided to delay my visit until 3 in the afternoon in the hope that the lunchtime rush would have died down and the dinner rush not started.  Well, either lots of other people had the same idea or this place is just busy all day long.

Fortunately, I went on the first sunny day in Berlin this year (an exaggeration but it feels a bit that way) and despite the cold people were sat on the benches outside eating their burgers.

I ordered a Chilli Cheesburger and Pommes (chips), grabbed a Bier from the fridge and sat down at a stool near the grill to wait for my food.

Chilli Cheeseburger at Berlin Burger International in Neukölln

My Chilli Cheesburger came loaded with toppings and a stick thrust through the bun doing its best to stop the whole lot spilling across the plate and was a taste sensation.

There were plenty of jalapenos and they along with the chilli in the cheese gave the burger a great kick and the smoky bacon added another dimension.  My one criticism would be that the sauce was a bit too BBQ like but that’s a very minor point – the Chilli Cheeseburger at Berlin Burger International is delicious.

So my advice is to get yourself down to Neukölln to try out Berlin Burger International, preferably when the sun is out and you can either sit on those benches outside or take your burger and sit near the canal.

Zsa Zsa Burger – Star Quality In Schöneberg

Zsa Zsa Burger Sign in Berlin Schöneberg

I have Chris Lietze of Blog’n’Burger to thank for introducing me to Zsa Zsa Burger.  My first visit to this Schöneberg burger restaurant was for BlognBurger11 and a few days later I was back again for more.

My first time at Zsa Zsa Burger I was tempted by The Silence of The Lambs described on the menu as:

Lamb burger served with red curry dip, the insider’s tip!

A very good burger – lots of meat and a tasty (though for me a little mild) curry sauce – and great chips but I had to go back to try the beef.

So on my second visit, just a few days later, I went for The Breakfast Burger, a beef burger topped with bacon and a fried egg.

Breakfast Burger at Zsa Zsa Burger in Berlin Schöneberg

Again, a very meaty burger and the runny yolk of the egg brought the delight that comes with messy food.  The buns at Zsa Zsa Burger also deserve a special mention.  I had the white sour dough version both times and they were delicious.

The Steak Burger, made with grilled Argentinian rib-eye steak and served with a Teryaki sour cream dip, also came highly recommended by Gilly.

Steak Burger at Zsa Zsa Burger in Berlin Schöneberg

Steak Burger at Zsa Zsa Burger – Photo courtesy of Gilly of Gilly’s Playground – http://blog.gilly.ws

The food at Zsa Zsa Burger is of a very high and consistent standard, the restaurant is smart and comfortable, the service is excellent and when I was there, super-quick despite being full on both occasions.

I followed up both of my visits to Zsa Zsa Burger with cocktails and would recommend both bars – Stagger Lee and Green Door.

Curry Mitte – Saucy Pleasure in Berlin

Curry Mitte Berlin Sign

It’s amazing that it took me so long to try the Currwurst at Curry Mitte, an Imbiß on Rosenthaler Platz in Berlin, as it’s only about 1km from my flat, but thanks to a recommendation from Gian left in the comments of my Reasons I Miss Berlin #3 – Currywurst post I went there a couple of weeks ago.

Taking advantage of a special offer, I ordered Currywurst (mit darm) mit Pommes (Currywurst (with skin) and Chips) and a small bottle of Berliner Kindl for €4.50.

Currwurst and Chips (Currywurst mit Pommes) at Curry Mitte Berlin

And I have to agree with Gian that Curry Mitte serves one of the best Currywurst in Berlin.

I had the standard sauce, which was tasty and had enough curry to make it interesting without spoiling the flavour, but they do offer options to go spicier.  The sausage and the chips were also very good and with the special offer this was fantastic value for money.

The Currywurst at Curry Mitte is definitely up there amongst the best in Berlin that I have tasted – it wasn’t quite as good as zur Bratpfanne but it was a close run thing.