Altes Europa is strict and sexy – a bustling pub which serves up old-fashioned fare whilst something rather naughty hangs on the wall. Stuck deep in the gallery district, we were craving a bit of old-school grub served on plain wooden tables, and ended up here.
The first thing you might notice upon entering is a small oil painting of a man and woman having sex against a table. Is this supposed to whet your appetite, or shout “We’re libertines here!”? Whichever is the case, the bustling pub is the perfect antidote to the innumerable minimalist spaces peddling fashionable Asian culture in the neighbourhood.
Our waiter put on a little display of Berliner Schnauze after we ordered beer, wine and a bit of tap water to get us re-hydrated: “What is this, a Leitungswasserbar?” As he nonetheless plonked some glasses of tap water on the table, it became clear his posturing was more an act than genuine hostility. The scribbled chalkboard menu is visible only from certain parts of the restaurant, and the selection changes daily.
We ordered pasta with redfish, medallions of wild boar, venison ragout and some salads to start. The simple salads looked good, but the dressing was watery and under-salted. An hour and 20 minutes later the mains arrived at a table of growling stomachs. We wolfed down the food – mid-league, artfully presented central European stuff topped with twigs of rosemary. The meat was tepid. The pasta with creamy fish sauce was hot at least, but no masterpiece. The boar was a bit chewy and too salty.
Apparently, we’d come on a bad day. Not that we won’t return to Altes Europa for a drink at least. The Augustiner beer is delicious and the atmosphere buzzing.