It's not just enough to open a co-working space in Berlin these days – you've gotta have the right productivity-boosting eats as well. Here are four canteens worth noting.
1Lindenstraße 20-25, 10969 Berlin
When latest co-working spot The Workspace opened at the end of November, all anyone wanted to talk about was the café. No wonder: the “Contemporary Food Laboratory” is run by Ludwig Cramer-Klett of Katz Orange, who’s imported a chef, some staff members and some “core ingredients” from that celeb-beloved hot-spot. Behind the beautiful façade of the former Victoria Insurance headquarters on Lindenstraße, you’re greeted with faint earth tones, burgundy wood accents and ambient flute music. The menu centres on fancy sandwiches, the most popular being slow-cooked pulled pork belly with peas and apples (€6.90). While not likely to blow your mind, it's solid comfort food, and the fact that it's made from free-range pigs raised on an organic farm near Rügen will comfort your conscience as well. A lunch combo comprising a sandwich, a vegetarian soup and a side salad of mixed crudités brings you up to €8.50, surprisingly reasonable for food of this quality. A satiating pit-stop even if you're not one of the yuppie designer types who work there. If you wish to join them, it'll cost €10 for a day pass; upstairs, the 13 offices decked out with mid-century furniture are for members only (€45 for five days a month; €250 for a full-time fixed desk).
At four and a half years old, the four-storey space on Mittelweg has established itself as one of Neukölln's premier bohemian hangouts. Its bright and spacious interior, furnished with an eclectic selection of wooden benches and tables, is the place to go for workshops on everything from permaculture to fermentation to “practical shamanism”. The café’s daily menu follows suit in the form of a melange of “local” ingredients put together in unexpected ways: think beetroot with shrimp (these probably aren’t that local), or carrots with apple jam and fermented Brussels sprouts. €6.50 gets you a plate of three different dishes which you can enjoy surrounded by multilingual artists, free-thinkers and the occasional singing waiter, none of whom seem in any hurry to get back to work. If you absolutely must be productive, it’s €16 a day, €60 for five days a month or €248 for a fixed desk on one of the upper floors.
3Brunnenstraße 173, 10115 Berlin
Devoted to “coworking and superfoods”, Unicorn took over the site of the former King Kong Klub in September, keeping some of the old wall decorations but otherwise going for generic modern coffeehouse chic. In the front café, you’re allowed to work for free for two hours. Any longer and you’ll have to walk to the other side of the same room and pay €19 per day, free coffee refills – and nerve-wracking coffee-making sounds – included. (A single isolated room, separated by a glass wall, isn’t that much quieter). As for the food, it’s all vegan and leans towards pre-made sandwiches and salads. We weren’t too impressed with the garden-variety pesto-mozzarella-tomato sandwich (€6.50) or the quinoa salad (especially for €7), but found the zucchini-mushroom soup (€6) surprisingly delightful. Dessert-wise, skip the raw stuff in favour of American-influenced goodies like chocolate lava cake or pumpkin pound cake. We’d write this place off, but there seems to be keen interest amongst the thirtysomething Mitte freelancers working there, who pay up to €330 per month for a fixed desk. A membership includes 25 percent off food, so maybe they’re really into quinoa?
4Rheinsberger Straße 76/77, 10115 Berlin
As of July, freelancers can rent a desk at the Google-financed Factory, that king of start-up hubs which houses Soundcloud, Twitter, Uber and more. Since you’re working among the stars, it’s only fitting that lunch comes courtesy of a Michelin-starred chef, Tim Raue, whose “Studio” there presents his cuisine in affordable form. The canteen-style lunch menu changes fortnightly and comes with a regional theme, be it Korea, Vietnam or Hesse; there’s often a €9 Friday Wiener Schnitzel special. In general it’s not bad for under-€10 fare, with some delicious surprises – like the €6 potato-leek gratin we tried during “Greek Week” – but not quite up to the standards you’d expect from such a celebrated chef. You’re better off ordering pizza at your desk like a true start-upper, or going for the alternate four- to 10-course menu of Raue’s signature Asian-style tapas. This is substantially less affordable at €58-108, but if you’re already paying €400 for a desk, you can probably swing it. FP