There’s a food tradition in German speaking countries that I actually never got to write about before, although it’s been such a vital part of my upbringing, it makes me happy just thinking of it. And while it sounds rather simple, it often seems odd to outsiders. Let me say it like this: sometimes, we like to have a sweet main for lunch or dinner. This can be pancakes, or Grießbrei (semolina pudding) or Milchreis (rice pudding), or, as in this case: Kaiserschmarrn, a thick Austrian pancake, plucked to pieces, and served with Zwetschkenröster, baked plums. I had it at a new Austrian deli in Mitte, Feinkost Minutillo, and this is why you should try it too…
Maybe one needs to grow up with eating sweet main dishes for lunch or dinner in order to understand it (please, non-German-speaker, let me know if and how odd you think this is), but almost everyone who grew up here, knows this. To clarify, the sweet main dish is often preceded with a hearty but light soup, to make it a full meal. And of course Feinkost Minutillo on Brunnenstraße offered a beautifully looking, yet not vegetarian Fritattensuppe with it – a broth with stripes of (usually) yesterday’s pancakes.
Feinkost Minutillo is a deli on Brunnenstraße, seating barely ten people in a place not bigger than a hallway, including the kitchen. It’s decidedly Austrian, with a fridge filled with orange lemonade Frucade and gentian lemonade Enzo, and a menu that, while translated into English, is serving traditional Austrian fare only: from Leberkäse (meat loaf) and Schweinsbraten (roasted pork) with Kaiserinnen Semmeln (“empress’ bread rolls”, imported from Austria because no Berlin baker is able to make them quite like Leonard Minutillo, the owner, wants them), to potato and Käferbohnen salad, and finally Apfelstrudel mit Schlag (apple strudle with cream).
Added are lunch dishes that change weekly, from Viennese Gulasch, to Steirer Wurzelfleisch, a stew with vegetables, pork and fresh horseradish, spinach dumplings with cheese, and, as announced, the sweet mains: Kaiserschmarrn and Zwetschkenknödel.
One of the rare upsides of November’s atrocious weather situation and entire lack of daylight is actually this: having a lunch dish consisting of fluffy pancakes, not overly sweet plum compote and a scoop of vanilla ice cream is completely reasonable. Because it will lift your mood out of that deep, dark whole that is Berlin winter (yes, fall is officially over by now). What also helps is the owner’s original Austrian charm with its more or less apparent paternalism: Leonard Minutillo seems to know what you want / need before you say or even know it. You will feel very well taken care of, an indisputable aid to cope with the darkness outside.