Life Swaps Timberland trendsetters exchange lives for a weekend featured
Neue Heimat Let there be light featured

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.

Le Bon And, behold, it was very good

Not content with being Queen of the local coffee scene (see: KaffeeBar), Johanna Schellenberger has now opened up Le Bon: a crackerjack of a restaurant in Graefekiez, the culinary likes of which this ‘hood hasn’t seen since Little Otik jumped ship back in 2013.

Split across two large rooms on a corner of Boppstraße—rough concrete floors, hefty wooden tables and the odd cactus or two—it’s beautifully understated, putting the emphasis firmly on the food where it belongs. The menu is equally pared-down with just a few options for each course—never a bad sign in our books. Generally the food is a tasty bastard of French and German cuisine; one dish changes every couple days meaning that the menu is totally new again in two weeks. Should the lamb couscous (heaven itself) ever reappear, it’d be a brave person who opted for anything else.

Le Bon is also open for breakfast and lunch, effortlessly raising the bar for Kreuzberg cafes in these domains too. Competition for the ante-meridian attention of the locals is high but given the popularity of their avocado eggs benedict, or better yet, the granola pancakes and chantilly cream, it just goes to show that the denizens of Graefekiez know a good brunch when they see one.

Horváth Tradition redefined

While Berlin might not yet be snapping at Paris and London’s culinary heels, the Haupstadt’s certainly gaining ground on Europe’s two foodie Meccas — it’s now got 19 Michelin stars under its belt to prove it. And while some of this select group of lauded restos have their tie done up to 11 (here’s looking at you Fischers Fritz), there are others that have taken a less starched approach to dining this fine. Horváth is proudly in the latter camp.

Don’t be fooled by that traditional image: wood panelling, creamy leather chairs and brass touches. Kitchen wizard Sebastian Frank is whipping up some seriously adventurous stuff here. The cuisine takes its nod from the Austrian cooking that Frank grew up with, albeit pushed to its most sophisticated limits: a sliver of steak tartar, with spring onion and morel, grilled for 30 seconds on a hot stone slab, then served alongside chopped pumpkin seeds, sorrel and drops of red beet, for example. The desserts, such as the apricot-infused water-kefir jelly, with soaked quince and orange, are just as funky and just as delicious.

Be warned, the portions tend to max out at around appetizer size, but if you came here to fill yourself to bursting you missed the point. The biggest surprise of all, though, comes at the business end of proceedings — no mind-boggling mega bill here. Sure it’s not cheap, but it’s amongst the most affordable Michelin food in the city: one dish will set you back around €25 (give or take a few coins), four courses €58, and the 10-piece whole shebang €119. Plus, the space used to be the home of Exil so you’ll be treading the same ground as a boundary-pusher of another ilk, Mr. David Bowie.

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