This is an odd week, isn’t it? If you follow me on the ‘gram, you know I’ve been struggling with this feeling of oddness since Monday, and then yesterday my dog slipped on the banks of the canal and fell down into the water with a big splash – not voluntarily, she prefers temperatures above 35 degree celsius to get soaked. I managed to pull her out by the neck, and she was fine 30 mins later, but, oh’ the drama. Anyhow, something’s off right now, and it’s even showing in my dining choices! From the three places I went to last week, only one was good. Albeit, the good one is a trustworthy choice: the people at Hallmann & Klee in Neukölln just know what they’re doing, hence the line out the door all weekend.
It’s not so much brunch they’re serving, but breakfast, some would say German breakfast. You should order the big plate filled with cheeses, cold cuts, jam and more which comes with lye rolls, sourdough breads and house made ciabatta. It might seem pricey at 15.50 Euro, but it’s enough for two if not three people if you order some eggs with it. And the quality of the produce used is prime.
That’s my usual issue with these kind of cold breakfasts served in many German cafés, the cheese they put on it is just meh. Don’t give me pre-cut slices of Milram and some white label Mozzarella from the discounter, gimme the good stuff. And then I’m willing to pay for it. We added silky scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, and it’s been delicious and plenty. Which was unfortunate since we couldn’t order the famed pancakes with maple sirup and roasted nuts. Bad planning, or just an odd week. Usually I don’t think twice about ordering a sweet dish.
What you need to know about Hallmann & Klee though: it’s packed. Especially on Sundays during brunch time. If you didn’t book a table (and the earliest available is usually three weeks from now, on the weekend), you might seriously consider showing up when they open doors at 09.30. And you might still need to wait a bit. We arrived at 10.30 and waited around 40 mins for our table. And when we left around 13:00, there was still a line outside. But I’m telling you: it’s worth it. I yet have to try their dinner, but it’d be really odd, if that wasn’t as good as the breakfast.
Speaking of lines: I was pondering the validity of a line in Berlin, is there a place with a line out the door that isn’t worth it? Strictly speaking about food places. Burgermeister is certainly not worth it, I also wouldn’t queue at Monsieur Vuong although I respect the history and importance of that place, but for example Cocolo in Mitte always has a line but is also kinda worth it (if you can’t just go to the Kreuzberg one and wait half the time). I’ve never queued at Mustafa’s but I know many people who’ll do it again and again. So, I can’t come up with a lot of places with huge queues that aren’t worth it, so would it be valid to say, a line in Berlin still shows you to the good spots?
At Hallmann & Klee it does.
What about the other two places, you ask? Well, here’s the issue. One of them just recently opened, and I went against my usual rule of waiting at least three months for them to smooth out all the creases. However, it came with praise from not one, not two, but three friends who I (usually) trust 100% when it comes to food. Oddly enough, and despite only five things on the menu, we managed to order entirely different dishes then these three friends did. And all of them were.. bad. Mine was, unfortunately really, really bad, while the others just had bland food. I don’t wanna go into the specifics because I decided to not name them (going back to the rule of giving businesses some time to figure things out after opening). But I wouldn’t go back and try it again. (PS, after this disappointing dinner, we proceeded to watch the disappointing Queen movie which was also very much not cool, and ended the night on a disappointing bar visit, so we made it a theme.)
The second place also came with a recommendation of (another) trusted friend. However, I don’t think we received the same treatment as she did. They must’ve served her with a different style of food. Ours was so bland, it was barely there. Thing is, it wouldn’t be entirely unusual if this place decided to serve different food to different people based on their origin. And I won’t blame them for it, so no call-out for that one either.