Places to eat in Berlin: Grenander

Lets get this straight right of the bat: Grenander is not a restaurant. Sure, it’s open in the evening and it does light meals (think: soup and a roll). However, it’s really a cafe (‘cafehaus and icecream’,  says  my receipt).

Coffee and cake is a deep-seated German tradition. You really must indulge, but beware that this is no piffling, tiny piece of sponge cake we’re talking about – oh no. Coffee and cakes demands a huge, sumptuous piece of one of a range of marvellous gateaux. Picture a huge Black Forest Gateau (Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte) and you’re in the right place.

Right across the road from the Wittenbergplatz, not far from KaDeWe, Grenander is easy to find and quite welcoming. It’s not very big, though, so you’d better hope it’s not busy.

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Places to eat in Berlin: Mola

Mola is opposite the Wittenbergplatz U-bahn station, just along the Ku’damme from KaDeWe. It’s not the most sophisticated restaurant you’ll find, but it’s a wonderfully authentic Italian restaurant.

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The first thing you’ll notice is the marvellously jovial owner (at least I think he was the owner) who welcomes you in Italian. The next thing that you’ll notice is the large traditional pizza oven, with the pizza chef making fresh pizza by hand right in front of you.

I wouldn’t pretend that the menu is sophisticated, but the pizzas are wonderfully tasty, authentic thin Italian pizzas. The staff are jolly, friendly and helpful and the overall atmosphere is welcoming and relaxed. They also serve Warsteiner. It’s going back a log way, but my childhood pen-friends in Hamm, in the west of Germany always used to maintain that Warsteiner was their favourite bier (much better than Krombacher, I recall).

Places to eat in Berlin: La Sepia

Anybody who knows me well will tell you that I am prone to waxing lyrical about Portugal. Whilst I haven’t been there for a good few years now, it was a regular destination for my family when I was younger and I have strong, fond memories of the place and its food.

Imagine my surprise then, when we found a Portuguese/Spanish restaurant just a few minutes away from our hotel. La Sepia is on Marburger Strasse, just off Ku’damme.

Cue a random mix from our blogger of broken German and broken Portuguese – all the staff we spoke to were native Portuguese, as far as I could tell.

Sadly, they only offer bacalhao a bras (Portuguese salt cod) during the day, but in addition to a range of tapas and a fabulous choice of fresh fish, a number of different dishes cooked in the traditional cataplana were on offer.

The cataplana is a traditional Portuguese cooking pot. Imagine a wok; now add another wok which closes against first on a hinge, like a clam. It clamps shut, making something a little bit like a pressure cooker.

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Tourists who visit the Algarve will have seen cataplana on the menus of many restaurants. Mostly, that means pork and clams, cooked in the cataplana. La Sepia offer this, of course, but also have other dishes. I plumped for monkfish, cooked in the cataplana. The dish is a bit like a stew – big chunks of monkfish, potatoes and other vegetables in a sauce which is a mixture of tomato and fish. Take it from me – it’s great. Just make sure you save some bread to mop up the sauce!

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A wide range of Portuguese wine fill a lengthy wine list. We settled on a nice Vino Verde – a light, slightly sparkling fresh white (literally translated to English as green wine). To finish, a bica – the strong Portuguese coffee which makes espresso look weak.

Overall, a place I can heartily recommend. You can bet that I’ll try to make it back during the day for bacalhao a bras before we leave Berlin.

Places to eat in Berlin: Coa

It’s becoming a tradition that every time I attend a conference or travel anywhere interesting I post at least a couple of places to eat. Perhaps ironically, none of the places I am about to post about serve cuisine that you could reasonable call German.

It’s true – we’ve done coffee and cake – that well known German tradition. In an evening, however, besides our hotel we have been to a Chinese, an oriental fusion place and a Portuguese and Spanish restaurant.

A general warning to those eating out in Berlin – do not take for granted that the place you choose will take plastic – many don’t, and you should at least be prepared to pay cash.

Of those, the fusion restaurant was the first place we ate – Coa. Situated right in Potzdamer Platz it was an obvious choice early in our stay as we wandered around the dominoes of Mauerfall.

If you like noodles, you’ll do just fine here. The cuisine is an interesting mix of Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and Japanese. The surroundings are stylish, the service is friendly (and happy to converse in English) and the food is excellent. There is a great range of dishes from dim sum to noodles and everything we had was well prepared and tasty.

Places to eat on the South Bank in London

A set of conference posts wouldn’t be complete without a run down of the local culinary delights. We haven’t strayed far from the South Bank Centre for the past few days, but we’ve had a great variety of meals.

Wednesday night and Thursday lunchtime was Wagamamas. I love Wagamamas. There’s one in Leeds as well, and whilst Fuji Hero is perhaps more authentic, I just love the deserts at Wagamamas. I also have at least one of their recipe books, so I can try it at home! Busy though – we arrived just shy of seven in the evening of our arrival and the queue to get in didn’t really die down until after nine. The new teppanyaki soba is to be recommended.

Thursday night was Tapas at Las Iguanas – a latin-themed place. It was pretty good too, although if I’m honest I’ve had better tapas. It was really busy too – I guess that’s partly because it’s summer and the south bank is one of those places where people congregate, but be prepared to wait a while for a table.

Lunchtime today saw us in Ping Pong, a Dim Sum place down the stairs out back. That was great – a menu with loads of different dishes with helpful staff to walk you through ordering a range of really tasty dishes. We all thoroughly enjoyed it and I’d really recommend it as a slightly different experience, and great for lunch where you might not want a huge meal. I also thing it’s a great social experience, as you can all order a dish you like and get others to try it, with all the conversation that will provoke!

Places to eat in Seattle: Etta’s Seafood

On our arrival in Seattle, Richard and I had a great meal in Etta’s Seafood, which is not far along the road from Pike’s Market, heading out with the bay on your left. The food was excellent – fantastic chowder and a burger cooked just to your taste. A warning though – if you’re a wee slip of a lad like I am you may find the portions daunting. It was a friendly, charming place and great welcome to the city.

Places to eat in Seattle: Lowell’s

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Richard’s an old hand in Seattle, so he suggested we ate breakfast at Lowell’s down at the Pike Place Market. I’m really glad he did – the eggs benedict were fantastic. We ate great food with a fantastic view of the bay. If you’re ever in Seattle I can wholeheartedly recommend that you try Lowell’s while you’re here.