Photo by Erica Löfman
Good lunch places are never easy to find, even more so when your office is located in a Prenzlauer Berg side street. Your options are usually limited to Thai, a ciabatta sandwich or falafel if you’re lucky. Day in, day out. Enter Muse, bringing street food to the gentry’s hood! Here, every weekday, you’ll find an American-style lunch in the vein of Kreuzberg’s Markthalle IX Thursday fare.
The Anglo-German couple behind Muse, Caroline and Tobias, come from the ’underground dining’ scene. After the surprise runaway success of their at-home supper club Thyme, they rented a space, spruced it up with solid homemade tables, lots of dangling lightbulbs and nice leather sofas – and decided that, in addition to hosting their suppers here on Fridays and Saturdays, they’d serve a simple, filling weekday lunch comprising mostly sandwiches.
It’s proving popular – we went twice in search of their slow-braised brisket sandwich titled Das Beef (rumoured to resemble a posh Philly cheesesteak) but it was sold out by 2pm both days. Instead we tried the Char Siu Bun, a Chicken Slaw sandwich and a Riesenpilz sandwich. All come with a couple of handfuls of crispy thin-cut fries – quite addictive in themselves.
Each sandwich is served on a different roll, a sign that someone in the kitchen cares about combining flavours. It’s in a homemade steamed Chinese-style bun that the fusion-y pork belly Char Siu Bun sandwich (€6.50) is served. The unhealthy piggy goodness is packed in there with a ginger sauce, pickled coleslaw and a big chunk of pineapple. The result is an explosion of fatty, sweet and tangy flavour – intense, quite delicious and maybe not for every day.
The Chicken Slaw (€6.50) was less ballsy – a mix of nice strips of free-range chicken (which taste like actual chicken, a rarity in Berlin), buttermilk coleslaw and pickled mustard seeds. Add to this a really tasty raisin spread on a brioche bap, and you get a rather sweet hell of a sandwich; maybe the sweet bun and spread are a little redundant. The Riesenpilz’ (€6 with fries) jokey name (“giant mushroom”) belies the fact that portobello mushrooms are virtually unheard of here.
This veggie standard of the English-speaking world is only available from their supplier through special order. Homesick vegetarians will be happy with the fried, fleshy and somewhat greasy ‘shroom topped with walnut-parsley pesto and tarragon-garlic butter – another eruption of rich flavour! The next best thing about this sandwich is the delicious walnut bun.
If you tire of their sandwiches and fries, you have a daily vegetarian soup (€4.50), a hot pot dish (€6, shepherd’s pie on our visit), and the frightening prospect of a Montreal Currywurst (€6.50), a sloppy combo of fries, cheese and Canadian “poutine” gravy – with a bratwurst. You’ll hardly have any space for dessert here, but their homemade drinks – we tried pink lemonade and ginger beer, both €2.50 – are so tangy and delicious that your sweet tooth will be sated.
Originally published in issue #124, February 2014.