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Ø Urban island eats

Somewhere along the line, Berlin started getting used as an abstract adjective: “That bar/look/tune/whatever is so Berlin!” There are, however, ways to use such a descriptive aid a) literally and b) without sounding like a tool. One of them is describing Ø (which means ‘island’, and is pronounced ‘oe’, in case you were wondering). Because the inside of this slick eatery is a patchwork homage to the Haupstadt’s interior design back-catalogue: Metal ceiling from Cafe Moskau, monster lights from the GDR’s ministry of construction, mottled wallpaper salvaged from various torn down buildings, and a staircase rail from the grand old Staatsoper.

There’s a nostalgic kind of vibe to the menu too, where traditional German dishes have been given a 21st century, artisanal revamp — and are way better because of it. The Bratwurst, for example, is made with boar meat (mmm manly), and comes with fried potato and pimento peppers, cherry tomatoes, leek, and cranberry mustard. If you twisted our arm for a standout, we’d suggest you plump for the veal liver, dripping in sage butter, with braised lettuce and a potato-apple puree on the side. There is also, for the less teutonically disposed, the odd concession to international staples, in the form of burgers and steaks.

Dinner isn’t the be all and end all here, though. There’s more than enough for breakfasters, brunchers and lunchers to get busy with too — the cakes, especially, are remarkable. What’s more, if you’ve got a special occasion on the cards, you’d be hard pressed to find a better spot to spend it in than the regal room out back, with its epic vaulted ceiling and pocket-size turquoise bar in the corner. You’ll just have to brush up on your pronunciation so you can let your friends know where you are…

Feed x Veist Split personality

We felt a little aggrieved when we only paid passing mention to this quirky wee place when we shined the spotlight on its bigger sister Veist, so we decided to give it a little Unlike-cyberspace all of its own. While big sis is a straight up vintage store stocking women’s apparel, Feed x Veist is threads for guys with a cafe attached — for the discerning gent, let’s say, who’d like to sup upon a special recipe mojito, or chow down on some crostata di mele, while he browses. (Ladies, you’re welcome too, obviously).

Let’s start on the Veist side of things. Yes, the selection of garments isn’t massive, but that’s because they’ve done away with the chaff. Almost everything there is worth trying on, at the very least. There are shirts — from plain, through patterned, to plaid — old school kicks, jackets (heavy duty and light) and accessories. Insider tip: The jumper section is where you’re going to find the real winners. If you’re worried about paying through the teeth, don’t be. The prices are refreshingly reasonable — shirts go for around €15.

Now for Feed, the cafe section of this unlikely symbiosis. Looks-wise, it’s no frills in a good way — simple wooden furniture with chipped paint and crates made into seats. The menu is centred around lunchy stuff (quiches, tarts and salads) and various homemade Kuchen. There’s daily food and drink specials such as the aforementioned mojito and crostata, too, and if you’re heading down post-daylight hours, there’s every chance you’ll find yourself becoming part of a mini-gig. There’s no corners to hide in, it’s that cosy.

La Pecora Nera Black sheep, done good

Somewhere deep down inside, we all have an Italian mamma. And in this joyous make-believe world, she cooks exactly like they do at La Pecora Nera. This being Berlin, however, the chef sports tattoos and untamed whiskers, but trust us, this is the real deal.

Roberto Falcone comes from Veneto and serves straight-up classics from his native region to an insatiable Schillerkiez clientele: Think lush slabs of polenta grilled with put-a-fork-in-it salsiccia and tangy radicchio leaves, or long chewy tubes of bigoli pasta with a rich meaty duck sauce. The menu here is as tight as the aforementioned animal’s arse and doesn’t miss a step. Variety is provided by the daily specials which dance to a veggie-Tuesday, fish-Friday, roast-Sunday kind of rhythm – and there’s a traditional Venetian spritz happy hour every day from 6-8pm.

In the not so Siberian months, there’s also a wonky pavement overlooking a red-brick church on which to imbibe the aperitif or one of their exclusive northern Italian wines. All in all, for this sort of money, it doesn’t get much tastier, or cosier, in this city.

Lupus The lone wolf of Neukölln

As Berlin’s culinary offerings chop and change around us, a true original has sprouted on a cosy little corner of the city, where every dish is sure to be a whole new ball game for your weary taste buds.

For brunch you can expect numerous alternatives to the omnipresent plates of cold ham and cheese like the skyscraper-esque raspberry pancakes or a quinoa-cranberry muesli. Then, when it becomes indecent to still be on your first meal of the day, there’s a light menu of Middle Eastern-inspired Mezze plates at your disposal from afternoon to evening.

And the main dish combos? They’re no less intricate—with the black bean and plum burger proving a particular Kiez favourite. Most of the grub is vegan-centric, locally sourced, and organic, but Lupus isn’t a hardline type of establishment, so the carnivorous shan’t go hungry either. It stays open for late-night snifters too, so pull up a rocking chair next to the wood-burning stove or delve deep into the red-walled smoking room out back.

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