Life Swaps: Part II Timberland creatives takeover Berlin featured
Cafe Pförtner To the back of the bus

The name of the game at Cafe Pförtner is understatement. Most of the seating is shabby or at least semi-outdoors (say on a rickety old school bus) and orders have to be lodged at a busy counter in front of the restaurant’s only visible menu. So far, so curious… Yet since opening in 2011, it has steadily grown into a word-of-mouth favorite with regulars that go from trendy to fogey and back again. Why you holler? Simply ’cos Cafe Pförtner is small on pretension, big on charm, and massive on home-cooked goodness.

Situated in a somewhat secluded red-brick building by the Uferstudios in ever-becoming Wedding, one of the bistro owners, Daniel, is from Germany and the other, Christian, hails from northern Italy—which explains why their dishes often have an Italian twist to them. Fine fish and fresh pasta usually grace the chalkboard but the offering changes daily, making every meal quite the carpe diem experience. Coming from a concert at Piano Salon Christophori next door? Undo one or two buttons on the collar and queue up; you’ve entered Pförtner’s doors.

Dae Mon Korean goes contemporary

After five years of calling the shots at Kimchi Princess, the time had come for Hyun Wanner to leave his beloved hibachi grills behind and strike it out alone with a more refined approach to Korean cuisine. Swapping the rowdy Kreuzberg digs for a quiet spot on Monbijouplatz, the whole experience has been distinctly Mitte-fied. That means sleek, minimal surroundings; waiters sporting the man bun undercut; and prices that would make a backpacker blush. Not to mention an obsessive attention to detail in every dish…

The ingredients are truly top notch, as are the playful combinations of flavors that arrive on slabs of natural gray slate. Paired with swords of asparagus and calamaretti rings, the Atlantic Halibut is melt-in-your-Mund fresh and a definite highlight. Likewise, their classic Black Angus bulgogi is not to be missed. Sweet tooths can finish in style with a blackened sesame panna cotta or the fiery ginger crème brûlée. Not afraid to experiment in their proud open kitchen, Dae Mon is a progressive new player on Berlin’s ever-burgeoning Korean food scene.

KINDL - Center for Contemporary Art Kunst vom Fass

When big-time brewers Berliner Kindl moved out of this red-brick behemoth in Neukölln, you just knew it wouldn’t take long for the building to be reclaimed and repurposed Berlin-style. Now set to be a multi-cultural, multi-purpose home to a diverse array of contemporary art, the Brauerei is enlivened once more. Kicking things off with a bang, the first space to be reopened is the 20-metre high Boiler House, showcasing a full-size airplane suspended in a perpetual nosedive—a site-specific installation from Roman Signer. The monstrous metal beer stills that punctuate the main hall and the three-storey Power House are behind closed doors for now but watch this space… KINDL has some big things a-brewing.

Piano Salon Christophori Wedding music

On stepping into the Salon Christophori, you feel like you have discovered a rare commodity in this world: a place no one else knows about. Located down a quiet, residential street in Wedding, the salon is a workshop-turned-venue that hosts concerts ranging from classical recitals to jazz, with the odd experimental one thrown in too. A truly unique venue, the salon is mesmerising in itself with walls festooned with old piano parts, frets hanging everywhere and all manner of musical oddities lurking in the corners.

It all began when founder (and neurologist no less), Christophori Schreiber, started inviting his friends to play on the historical fortepianos he was restoring in his workshop. (This is actually the salon’s second location after the original one in Prenzlauer Berg was turned over for luxury renovation.) They invited friends to come listen, who in turn invited more people to come play, and nowadays some of the best and brightest musicians in the world are banging down the door to perform here. With an atmosphere so warm and intimate, it comes as no surprise that musicians and audiences return again and again to this cozy little garage. And the best bit? It’s all on a donation basis, even the beer and wine, so whether you’re a classical aficionado or a violin virgin, Salon Christophori beckons.

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