Best of: Stil in Berlin 2017

Mary having Berlin's Best Ice Cream in front of Jones Ice Cream, Schöneberg
I ate a lot this year, just for you. Photo: Rebecca Crawford

A sweet, savory, spicy, salty, smokey, and sour year comes to an end. Berlin had it all: ups and downs and turn-it-all-arounds. With 69 articles, over 20 entirely new and very exciting spots, a re-designed online map, an ice-cream feast, a Veggie Bite Club, another round of successful clothing donations, and a very new printed map added to the stilinberlin family in 2017, it’s been a busy year with loads of dining, feasting, and yes, digesting on my side. Here’s a round-up of the most popular things on the blog this year.

For Berlin’s food scene itself its been an exciting year that came with a lot of challenges resulting out of the growing hype around food. One of the most peculiar occurrences that stuck with me was the explosion of certain food events on facebook. It’s been mind-boggling to me (and many others), considering their gimmicky appearance and more often than not rather lackluster appeal irl. Hosted mostly by dudes more interested in likes and shares who approach food with a start-up-mentality focussed on scaling, these blockbuster-style events have made it harder for real-life-players to gain attention. Peak-lunacy was reached when Thai park got its own fb page and event, liked and shared by thousands. Surprise, it’s not hosted by one of the Thai entrepreneurs present at the site, but more likely stemming out of the white guy group responsible for such gems as the Berlin Sushi / Kebap / Pizza / Poke Festival. It’s perhaps a natural development of the food craze that has been fed by me, you, and everyone I know, and all we can do is hold our breaths until it’s over and the vultures found a new scene to prey on.

Another rather unpleasant consequence that has seriously affected the development of the past year was the raised competition on the real estate market. I know quite the number of small-scale yet ambitious projects who are desperately looking for a space in a city, where every tenant of a former Imbiss is looking for a 100k as “key money”. Which oftentimes makes it necessary to find investors if you want to open a food business in a popular location, a task more difficult for chefs and entrepreneurs who’re not falling into the category that investors like to give their money to. Which results in ever more of the same concepts taking over the city: namely those, who have the skills to argue their alleged profitable prospects to people who have money. Is this the reason food-trend-exploiters and copycats take over many coveted spots? Can’t say for sure, but I for one am not a fan of the 2017 wave of poké-bowl joints customized to German mainstream .

This development has me slightly worried for the next steps ins Berlin’s food scene. Hype and craze and its many consequences can kill what could be a wholesome, diverse, exciting, and progressive home to those understanding food not as a profit-driven business opportunity, but as the most common element our society is resting upon. Everyone has to eat. Everyone wants to eat good. Everyone should be able to do so. Good food is not only benefiting its eater, but everything around us.
I promise to continue to focus on the small-scale and local, the artisanal and proficient, the ones focussed on quality and history, aware of their surroundings and influences, who strive forward. It’ll be an easy task, because they’re always the most delicious anyway.

#10 Brunch: Commonground

Probably one of the best additions to Mitte in the past year was Commonground, the food and drinks place on the ground floor of Circus Hotel at busy Rosenthaler Platz. It’s managed by the crew behind Friedrichshain’s brunch and coffee powerhouse Silo, which means it has morning food options galore: a seriously delicious avocado on toast (they’re Australian, after all), velvety scrambled eggs, and a smashing french toast (pictured above), plus their very own very good coffee. Read more here.

#9 Coffee & Cake: Five Elephant in Mitte

Another until now peripheral player moved very much Mitte this year and added some pizazz: in a minimalist, chic environment dominated by a terrazzo bar, Five Elephant serves excellent coffee as well as a big selection of little cakes on fashionable Alte Schönhauser Straße – unlike their Kreuzberg joint, this one presents them in a more bourgeois kinda shape. Their bestseller, the cheese cake, comes in circular form with the crust formed as a bowl holding the cream. I personally think the cream-crust-ratio is just not right in that version, but the single components are delicious anyway. Read more here.

#8 General Store: Hallesches Haus

This general store and café has done loads of growing up in the past years, from a small and almost cramped space to a light and airy hall filled with excellent goodies. Not only are they serving one of my current favourite salads, they’re also a good spot to shop the stilinberlin map! Read more here.

Several buns at the cinnamon bun tasting in Berlin

#7 Berlin’s Best: Cinnamon Buns

After doing the Berlin’s Best Bread test for three years, I was hoping to expand this concept to the cinnamon bun. Turns out there’re plenty buns, just not a lot of great ones. Let’s hope this test inspires some delicious sticky-sweet wheels. Read more here.

#6 Escape: Forsthaus Strelitz

This place is a beautiful paradise north of Berlin: a farm-to-table restaurant in the midst of a forest, with farmlands (don’t missen the frozen Brussel sprout trees) and loads of fun animals (that donkey!). The menu of the family-run business is composed of what they grow, plus a couple add-ons. Read more here.

#5 Thai food: Kin Dee

I’ve said it last week already, Kin Dee is one of my fav openings of the year. The Thai restaurant is under the direction of head chef Dalad Kambhu and restaurant manager Moritz Estermann, and serves creative, joyful, and intense Thai food using local ingredients. Read more here.

#4 Berlin’s Best: Bread

This one’s definitely the most anticipated day in my office (left-overs!), and mine too – this was the fourth time I called in a jury to taste breads from Berlin’s best bakers to find the one to celebrate for the year to come. Find the results here.

#3 Brunch: Sweethearts

I / we all fell for Sweethearts head over heals beginning of the year, not only because of its awesome looks (that lovely garden), but the sweet staff and excellent menu of brunch dishes (Käsespätzle topped with a poached egg!). But after only six months (the highlight being a frozen feast of ice cream), it all ended rather suddenly due to outside factors neither them nor we could’ve influenced. It’s questionable whether there’ll be a come-back, so let’s indulge in sweet memories… Read more here.

A cone with Berlin's Best Ice Cream at Jones Ice Cream, Schöneberg
Photo: Rebecca Crawford

#2 Berlin’s Best: Ice Cream Guide

This is a sweet smasher of a guide – I’ve tasted as much ice cream as I could to bring you a list of scrumptious scoops. Unfortunately, most of the spots are currently enjoying their well deserved hiatus. But prepare yourself for the start of the season and read more here.

Baklava and Kanafeh from the best Syrian pastry shop, Damaskus Konditorei

#1 Seriously: The Best Places to Eat in Berlin Right Now

I’ve done it, I made a list of my favourite ten places to eat… Why? To celebrate the relaunch of the online map where you can now save your favs.
The list is still and definitely valid now, and I for one can’t wait to have more of the delicious Syrian sweets you see in the above picture. Find the whole list here.