Photo by Ana Garcia de la Blanca
Over the past two or three years, dozens of courtyards and back rooms around Potsdamer Straße in Tiergarten near the Schöneberg border have been taken over by galleries fleeing Mitte's property squeeze.
While the streetwalkers still ply their trade on Kurfürstenstraße, the neighbourhood is undergoing a subtle transformation - and the appearance of Burgundy wine specialist Les Climats one block north on Pohlstraße is a sign of the times.
For years, owner Roland Kretschmer has sold wine to restaurants and connoisseurs from a damp cellar in Mitte – but he wanted more human contact and was attracted by the flourishing art scene in the area.
The new Les Climats – an unpretentious wine shop and bar in former 'casino' No Limits 2 – is an exercise in low-key good taste. A huge shelf holds a manageable selection of Burgundy wines to take home.
Kretschmer, a long-time French wine fanatic, regularly travels to the region in order to personally visit small vintners. He's happy to explain the difference, for instance, between a Chablis (like the Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin, €11.90) and a Petit Chablis (La Chablisienne, €9.90).
His bar/café serves several wines by the glass, small snacks and meals like a perfect French-style leek-and-goat-cheese quiche (€4.90 with a small salad). Here you can sample some real French terroir imports, such as a hearty plate of Boeuf Bourguignon (€7.50) or the veggie-friendly classic, Ratatouille (€5.50).
A suitable accompaniment for your evening tipple is a plate of cheese (three to five raw-milk French cheeses, including a few creamy-pungent Burgundy stars: Brillat Savarin, époisses) or charcuterie (cured ham from Morvan, rillettes, Rosette de Lyon, etc) arranged in various plates (€5.90-6.50).
The rye bread comes from Kreuzberg cult bakery Soluna, the quiche from top Schöneberg patisserie Aux Plaisir, and the homemade farmer-style terrine de campagne turns out to be our favourite Berlin pâté - from the Mitte brasserie La Bonne Franquette.
What's more, they serve real cornichons! Evidently, Herr Kretschmer knows his stuff.