Photo by Alexander McBride
Sometimes a little Gemütlichkeit goes a long way. Hirsch, which could be tagged as a German gastro-pub with a slightly alternative vibe, sets itself apart from Berlin’s inexhaustible stock of new designer cafes and bars with its cosiness and lack of pretension. Though its purpose is to separate the smokers from the non-, the diagonal glass partition that slices through the front room of this ‘brick walls, wood and candles’-style Kneipe only adds to the intimacy of each side.
Pleasure at Hirsch begins with the beer: there are four on tap, starting with the “Hausmarke” (€2.50 for 0.5l), which turns out to be Burgensteiner Pils, produced in a tiny Bavarian brewery. Other beers include Tannenzäpfle, Augustiner Helles, Alpirsbacher Klosterbräu, Tegernseer and the respectable choice of three alcohol-free brews.
Despite the pub’s name, there are no cute forest creatures on the menu. Spätzle – with gravy, cheese or cream sauce – and Maultaschen are the main focus. The Spätzle is particularly top-notch. We had a plate heaped with ham and cheese and a meagre side salad for a mere €5.60. Nothing fancy, but nothing to complain about.
A vegetarian expat in our group ordered Linsen mit Spätzle und Saitenwürstle (€3.80). Had we seen the English menu (there is one), we wouldn’t have confused the Swabian word Saiten with that vegan staple, the wheat-based meat known as seitan. Our veggie buddy was shocked to see normal wieners in his stew.
Hirsch isn’t going to win any prizes for its cooking, but the combination of cosiness (Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg had cafes like this in the 1990s), excellent beer and well-priced, belly-pleasing pub-grub is unbeatable.