Photo by Karolina Spolniewski
“It’s inspired by a concept from Hamburg in the 1980s,” the young man too young to have been alive in the 1980s explains as we stare confused at the endless and bewildering “croque” menu covering the entire wall of this pleasant little brick-walled Prenzlauer Berg snack joint. The French-sounding name triggers expectations of flat ham and cheese melts served with a side of vinaigrette-coated salad. Instead, we find ourselves in an up-market sub sandwich shop with dozens of toppings, many involving melted cheese – even stuff like chicken nuggets, fish fingers, pulled pork or antipasti. Add to that seven types of Flammkuchen and as many (mostly meaty) salads. Overwhelmed, we went for simple: classic ham, tomato and melted cheese with “chilli” sauce and a simple cold feta-tomato sandwich with herb sauce. Like at Starbucks, nothing is labelled “small” here. The sandwiches come in M (big), L (huge) and XL (humongous). Prices range from €4.20-10.50.
The “croques” come out on a stylish black slate, and the main draw here are the crispy wholegrain “brioche baguettes” from the bakery next door – think fluffy, sweet American rolls with a baguette-style outer crust. Otherwise it’s basically a Subway-style sandwich stuffed to overflowing with the chosen toppings but also a vast amount of finely shredded iceberg lettuce. The “chilli” sauce wasn’t spicy at all (also a throwback to Hamburg in the 1980s when hot food was unheard of in Germany?) but bottles of Tabasco on the table came to the rescue. All in all, the combination of unremarkable ingredients provide a quite satisfactory hunger-sating sandwich experience involving the melding together of carbs, proteins and crispy veg between your teeth. Big eaters take note: You will not leave hungry. Next time we have the hangover munchies, we’re heading back.