Neue Heimat Let there be light

Whether you’re familiar with the RAW complex from supplying your guiltiest weekend whimsies or as a faux alternative tourist pit, chances are that the deepest corners of this concrete-filled playground weren’t part of the experience. For your own safety, they shouldn’t be. So thought many people, and dark things continued to linger in the shadows of RAW.

Then came superheroes Sebastian Baier, Danny Faber, and Andreas Söcknick, the miracle builders of Bar 25 and Chalet. Since putting aside their turntables, their surging levels of serotonin have been devoted to Neue Heimat, the newly minted night market in town. As of August 2014, the three took over the spacious east end of Revaler Str. 99, illuminated it with dangling lightbulbs, an unmissable sign, and successfully scared the Boogieman away.

Every Sunday it’s a village market flooded with local food vendors (who also partake in Street Food Thursday, Bite Club, etc.), musicians, artists, and a good load of people, who look as though grocery stores not opening on Sunday was and never will be an issue. If you’re lucky, the massage therapist from Michelberger Hotel might even be there to loosen those knots.

Neue Heimat won’t be just another Markthalle Neun though. At the moment visitors only see at most two-thirds of the property, but the founders are cooking up some amazing ideas for additions to the space. These will be actualized in the near future, with the dream of creating a village community out of graffitied shambles.

KW Institute for Contemporary Art Full-frontal Kunst featured

Kunst-Werke (KW) is one of Berlin’s most consistently impressive contemporary art institutions. They excel in presenting the kind of exhibitions that those who take their art more seriously than a little eye candy will drool over. Art for the artists, if you will. Divergent enough from the mainstream to retain its sex appeal, yet of sufficient conceptual depth to continue sparking a few neurons off during the U-Bahn ride home.

KW is a million miles away from being a museum; that means no dust-gathering permanent collection, allowing innovation and curatorial creativity to run wild across five floors of malleable space, occasionally even spilling out into the large courtyard. A spicily mixed crowd — comprised of studious art fanatics, clutches of backpack-toting tourists who stumbled in off of Auguststraße, and a seasoning of bespectacled bohemian intellectuals — wander the interconnected series of spaces.

From mixed media retrospectives to overblown installations, festivals and sound performances, it’s fair game to expect the unexpected, assured in the knowledge that it’s going to be high-quality stuff. Past exhibitions have included the freaky-as-hell films that made up the cinema of transgression, the biting political satire of Christoph Schlingensief, and the talk-of-the-town beer pyramid from Cyprien Gaillard (pictured).

It was their initiative that kick-started the Berlin Biennale, and now as a collaborator of PS1/MoMA in New York, the Venice Biennale and Documenta X, Kunst-Werke is putting the city on the international art map as a heavyweight epicenter that’s here to stay.

Chipperfield Kantine Exceptional basics

First things, first: erase all preconceptions you have of the word canteen. Well, maybe not all. It is fairly priced, it does mainly serve lunches, and it is attached to a working office. In fact, reinstate the idea of canteen again, but edit out the following words: loud, tasteless, sloppy, and rank. Confused yet? Good.

Put more simply, Chipperfield Kantine is ten different shades of brilliant. It goes without saying that the decor is pitch perfect: minimal, concrete, and airy. The clientele is made up of well-to-do architects from the office itself—taking a timeout from their Museum Island masterplan—alongside other smug Mitte folk, as well they should be having discovered this place. Which only leaves the munchables…

Since reopening in 2013, the extremely capable team from Das Lokal has been bossing things in the kitchen. There are just a few options each day, which are always simple and mostly delicious. Bread and water come for free, and on balmy days, you can enjoy it outside in the sweet little courtyard. As they might say in a less refined canteen: piep, piep, piep – guten Appetit!

Art und Weise Moonshiners

Quirky, softly-lit bars are to Neukölln what kid-friendly Bio-Cafes are to Prenzlauer Berg. They’re everywhere. In fact, if you fell over within a 1km radius of the Schillerpromenade, you’d probably land on an upcycled armchair with a Moscow Mule in your hand. Such is their abundance, that picking one to park up in can prove problematic (first world problems eh?). Art und Weise, though, is a great place to hedge your bets.

It ticks many boxes of the modern Kneipe: There’s foosball out back, giant art on the wall, and the vibe is more ‘kick back’ than ‘kick off’. Decor-wise, it treads the line between beaten up and slick, with its bare concrete floor, tattered two-seaters, and kitschy crystal-glass ashtrays on the one hand and its polished pinewood bar, velvet-topped stools, and hanging lights on the other. Behind the bar there’s a decent selection of hard liquors (including a fruity and fiery house-made brew called H.E.R.B) that get mixed up into both classic cocktails and funkier, off-the-menu concoctions. If you’re being less adventurous and sticking to the beers, rock up between 6pm and 8pm and you can get a Groß for the price of a Klein.

Friends of the place spin crackly, old gramophone tunes on quieter nights, and let loose with meatier sets of a higher BPM come the weekend. Also, despite the relative lack of space, they host a heap of live art installations, film nights and impromptu jam sessions on an ad-hoc basis. What’s more, to further endear themselves to the Kiez, they go into ice cream production mode come the summer — so you can substitute that post-session Döner for two scoops instead.

Windhorst Nineties child

In the ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ world of Berlin cocktail bars, it’s not so common to stumble across a place which has passed its 15th Geburtstag. Allow us then, to reintroduce Windhorst, which has been quietly and consummately doing its thing — i.e. mixing killer cocktails — since 1999, when the Loveparade was still raging and Friedrichstraße was still recovering from its Mauerfall hangover.

It has a determinedly old school look, or to phrase it another way, they’re not going to get any spreads in the glossies where Berlin’s sweaty, slimey after dark scene remains a perennial hot topic. It’s shoebox small, it’s dark, it’s moody and there’s no exposed brickwork or faux industrial hanging lights in sight. Just a cocktail menu that makes the bible look like light reading, and a brilliantly-lit, apothecary-esque back bar packed with high-grade spirits. The long drinks get the most airtime: The Make a Mint — Tanqueray, fresh-squeezed pink grapefruit, lime, mint and Fee Brothers Mint Bitters — is a fruity zinger of a standout. Hard drinkers fear not though, because there’s no shortage of liquor-only concoctions too.

The vibe is set by scratchy blues and jazz emanating from the record player in the corner, and every Wednesday the 30-seater space is cleared a little, so patrons can get down, up close and personal, to the sounds of a live soul DJ. Make sure you look out for their whiskey sour nights too, where you can tailor-make your own tipple using an elite selection of whiskeys, bourbons, bitters, and fresh juices (and don’t skimp on the egg whites!). They don’t come around often — every three months or so — but they’re worth the wait.

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