Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cafe Berlin

good friends. good times. good weather. good bier.

welp, another weekend came and went and biergarten haus has still yet to open. nevertheless, we were determined to have some spring/summer fun, so BOOF buddy Sho and I got to googling to find some Saturday fun for our other buddies to engage in with us. we found options throughout the city but nothing really caught our eye until we found Cafe Berlin. essentially, we were out to find the closest thing to a german beer garden as possible, so after the prospective location was “ok”ed by our resident german, we decided on this capitol hill gem.

it was a picture perfect afternoon that you dream about and we were scheduled to meet at 1pm to begin an afternoon of fun. i arrived about 15 minutes after one (i had to make a pitstop at the sporting goods store…more on that later) and BOOF buddies, sho, ss and js had already begun to enjoy the wonderful outdoor patio and Hefeweizen. I quickly joined them and all was right in the world. unfortunately, the german buddy was deathly ill and was unable to make it so we made it a point to consume some Hefeweizen in his honor. well, not really but we’ll pretend. our two farthest buddies, kk and ak (no relation) were running RIDICULOUSLY late but they both eventually showed up to enjoy our saturday fun.

to start off, sho and I decided to split a KARTOFFEL PFANNKUCHEN (potato pancakes w/ apple sauce and sour cream), as did ss & js and they were quite good. although our german was unable to really attest to how good they were, sho is also a potato pancake expert and thoroughly enjoyed them. they were well fried, a little greasy, but nicely seasoned.

onto the meals. only kk was feeling particularly german so the most of us ordered very american lunch items.

ss ordered the cafe berlin cheese steak sandwich which was topped with mushrooms, onions and peppers. although this item was a little late (they lose a point for not bringing out all the food at the same time), ss really enjoyed it and said that it was well seasoned and very tasty.

js ordered the cajun sandwich was blackened chicken with Monterrey jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and honey mustard. this was a big surprise of the afternoon because it was really really good. i don’t think js or anyone else for that matter thought to find a cajun sandwich at a german restaurant so tasty, but it was. everyone mentioned that it had a very nice kick to it.

sho and i both opted for the vegetarian sandwich, which included a roasted portobello mushroom with bell pepper and goat cheese. the flavors and ingredients were simple but they worked together very well and it was a delicious sandwich. that is a sandwich that i can definitely and will replicate at home. i also love restaurants that make it a point to include a vegetarian option on their menu. although the german buddy was slightly disappointed in me because i did not order anything off of the asparagus menu, i was pleased with my choice. i would, however, definitely go back to order off that special menu because i do love me some asparagus.

kku was the only member of the crew to order something uniquely german and she ordered the bratwurst and said that it was also very good and enjoyable. every one’s meal also came with those little mountains of potatoes and they were ok. depending on the flavor of your sandwich, it either went well or not so much. they tasted as as though they had a hint of either vinegar or sour cream because they had a bit of a bitter taste but they weren’t bad. however, it is definitely a criticism because the items on the lunch menu all taste very different and the side item should compliment the main entree, not take away from it.

when ak FINALLY showed up, he also ordered the cajun chicken sandwich and enjoyed it as well. then we got back to drinking more Hefeweizen and kk was determined to order a boot, so we did and it was glorious. although our MIA german buddy has told us that the BOOT is actually not a german thing, we pretended as though it was and enjoyed the moment.

all in all, our meal at cafe berlin was pretty great. the food was tastier than expected and very reasonably priced. cafe berlin is located on capitol hill a few blocks up from union station on mass ave and is the last of three restaurants between 4th and 5th. although i only went inside to use the bathroom, it appears to be a split level townhouse type feel with the bottom level being more of a pub space and the top level being more of a cafe/nice dining space. however, the key to cafe berlin is the large outdoor patio that is located in the front of the restaurant which allows for people watching, but yet it is enclosed so you don’t feel like your conversation is being shared with all passerby tourists and locals alike. outstanding space. i recommend cafe berlin for a group of friends who want more beer for their buck and a simple meal to go with it. i also think its a great spot for a more casual date but nothing more formal than that. lasting thoughts: food was good but not great; service was good; beer selection was really unimpressive. they only have three beers on tap and hefeweizen was the darkest of them all, so you can already tell what that means. the only “Stout” that they had came in a bottle, so I definitely recommend that they increase their beer menu and their drafts if they want to give a truly german experience. location-location-location= perfect.

Grade: B

Activities! so our afternoon was not over after lunch. originally, we had planned to play bocce ball in the park but js and ss had just ordered their set and it wasn’t going to come in until tuesday. so, i stopped in at modell’s and picked up a frisbee and a wiffle ball bat & ball. after a whole series of events, we (even BOOF buddy ml made it by then!) ended up a block away at stanton square park and played for a little bit and had a wonderful time. I recommend playing in the park, going for a walk around capitol hill or even heading over to union station or the postal museum and taking a look around.

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