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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Berlin: A Century of Gastro Pub @ Zur Letzten Instanz, Berlin

Germany is a country known for its beer, football, precision engineering and really tall people.  But there is more to Germany than what meets the eyes.  A rich cultural heritage paired with modern influence has resulted in a diverse European landscape.  In the next few posts, I re-visit the sights and feeds that made me love this systematic country.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________After yesterday’s less than perfect dinner I was looking forward to lunch.  Fortunately my mate  Charmaine had some research done.  Today’s lunch was at a Berlin pub called Zur Letzten Instanz.  For over a century, this restaurant has attracted demanding eaters and some even said the likes of Charlie Chaplin have visited this classic diner.  But is the age of the restaurant a testament to the quality of food it serves?  I guess its something I was here to find out.

Grilled Pork Knuckle, red cabbage, and potato dumplings

I had a bit of this and if there was something I wanted to have at Hackethal the night before, it was this.  A gloriously crisped pork knuckle that just leaves you craving for more.  Every bite was crunchy and with the stewed cabbage, it was a sensational pork dish.  For the beer lovers, look forward to the crispy -salty crackling as it is the best I have had.

Homemade Meatball, sautéed vegetables and fried potatoes

This dish was my random shot at trying to be different.  It brings me away from the typical German stereotype of sausages and pork knuckles.  And for me, it was a gamble that paid off.  Who would have thought that the Germans did meatball that rivals those of the Swedes?! The meatball was flavoured sensationally and having the sweet sautéed vegetables as a pairing kept the sodium levels contained.  And for carbohydrates, I could have not been more pleased with the potatoes presented before me.  It was superb!

Veal liver, shallots, caramelised apple, sautéed vegetables

The thought of a liver main course would send shudders through the nerves of most.  But with my colleague ever so keen with the “I’ll have whatever you recommend”  move, a meal of liver came without anyone on the table even noticing.  Surprise surprise, the veal’s liver was super meaty with no stench whatsoever.  In fact, it tastes like a braised steak!  Very delicious especially when you have the sweetness of the apples!

The century old gastropub Zur Letzten Instanz is almost a no-brainer if you are in Berlin looking for a quality grub. The food is good, its interior rustic and even its service was decent for a busy gastropub.  All dishes really hit the sweet spot for me but if I had to choose what I found most impressive on the table, it would be the Pork Knuckle and the Veal Liver.  Why not the dish of meatball you might ask?  Well one of the meatball dishes came without any vegetables and it was then I realise it was really salty!  Definitely a memorable meal.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Berlin: A Local Favourite @ Hacketals, Gaststätte

Germany is a country known for its beer, football, precision engineering and really tall people.  But there is more to Germany than what meets the eyes.  A rich cultural heritage paired with modern influence has resulted in a diverse European landscape.  In the next few posts, I re-visit the sights and feeds that made me love this systematic country.
My first night in Germany was at Berlin and I kicked off with a traditional German meal at a family owned gastro-pub called the Hackethal`s in Gaststätte.  Its small sitting area means its slight cramped, and its location was rather secluded made it hard to find.  However, the promise of a good meal was all the mattered to me.  The staff speaks English and ordering was a bliss.  But as they were understaffed, the service was also slow but bearable.  At this point, the food had to be really good.


Veal Schnitzel - Crisp, well battered and fried golden brown. A faultless classic! But wait? Was this German?

Eisbein - Smokey ham hock cooked till tender and served with mash and sauerkraut.  Likeable but the amount of skin and fat on there means it was quite literally not worth the buck!

Bratwurst - Much skinnier and longer than I expected.  Each bite is a sensation of meatiness that speaks homemade.  Not juicy bites filled with creamy-lardy flesh.  It was nice but was it the ideal sausage?  Not quite unfortunately!

rote Grütze or simply red berries with custard is a Berlin classic.  Its taste was a reminisce of a childhood imagination from the cartoon classics!  Cooked berries doused with generous amounts of custard.  Really simple and hearty. 

The result? I found the food was decent but it did not really hit the sweet spot I was looking for.  The imagine imprinted in my mind was one of crispy skin knuckles, jumbo size meaty bratwursts and pretzels.  In saying that though, the food was inviting and would I come back?  Most definitely only if I am in the area because Hackethals is quite secluded!  But would I go for the Eisbein?  Definitely no.  However, with so much more on offer at Hackethal, I am pretty sure that there is something that would tickle my fancy better!


Saturday, February 6, 2016

London: The full Monty @ the Breakfast Club, Hoxton

On every trip I go to,  the morning before fly out always goes in a flash.  By the time I get on the plane, settle in and finally arrived at my home destination, more often than not I feel as though I have just ran a marathon.  Whether its that shitty budget airline Easyjet or the 1 hour train ride from the airport to my apartment, I always end up feeling pretty spent and dinner-less.  So on my last day in London it was time to build the reserves.  This time, I was at the Breakfast Club in Hoxton.

The venue serves the American/English for breakfast in an pub-styled cafe with familiar music in the background.  To start up the morning (which I woke up feeling super hungry), was a Peanut Butter Milkshake.
Good old Peanut Butter Milkshake £5.  Just the month before when Shake Shack in Convent Garden ran out of their special “peanut butter” for my shake, I left London feeling defeated. So when the Breakfast Club had it on their menu, I was sold.  The milkshake was spot on when it came to its consistency.  Unfortunately the sweet-salty balance was hanging a little on the sweet side.  I needed perhaps one more generous scoop of peanut butter. A satisfying drink nonetheless.

The full Monty w/ fried eggs  £11
Its all your usual suspects gathering on a plate this morning.  You have the toast, eggs, crisp bacon, meaty sausages, sauteed shrooms, pan fried potatoes, beans and of course, baked beans.  The full Monty was hard to go wrong with and yes, nothing went wrong.  The big breakfast was a great morning fuel for a long day but then again, it was also a very average breakfast that you could find anywhere in London but it was something you had to have in London.

The Breakfast Club in Hoxton had no queue when we were there at 9.45am and that is exactly what I look for where possible.  Fuss free diners to kickstart my mornings.  Pair that with good service  and a decent food experience to get the Breakfast Club Hoxton.  The food I had was not the healthiest for sure but it was rather comforting.  However, comforting while good can also be bad when you eat what I eat.  In this case, it was safe to say that the only thing I will not be doing after the meal was a medical check up.  

The Breakfast Club Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato