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Nine museum cafés perfect to while away a Winter day

Berliners are spoiled for choice when it comes to galleries and museums, but they also host some standout cafés and restaurants. Here's nine of the best, newest and finest food experiences to be found within Berlin’s exhibition halls.

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Photo by Berfin Karaman. Kaffeehaus Dallmayr is located in the Museum for Communication.

Weltwirtschaft at Haus der Kulturen der Welt

Still expecting at Berlin’s pregnant oyster

When the news broke last winter that Swabian Wahlberliner and foodster Dominik Bausinger (known for café San Remo Upflamör and HAU’s café Wirtshaus am Ufer) had teamed up with Konrad Lauten, a Berlin-based crowd­funding consultant with a particular affinity for foody projects, to take on the challenge of finally upgrading the culinary offer at HKW – a.k.a. the pregnant oyster – with some proper Italian grub, expectations were high. Last summer Weltwirtschaft gave a foretaste of the goodness to come with a fancy beer garden menu including stone-oven pizzas, eggplant parmigiana and fresh pasta, which visitors could enjoy on the splendid Spree-side espla­nade, on occasion with live music. For now – and until they finally renovate the kitchen (the 750m² space is currently a huge Baustelle) by spring next year, hungry visitors will have to content themselves with daily lunches (€6.50-€8.50) dished out of Weltwirtschaft’s outdoor cooking container (penne with potatoes and savoy cabbage, anyone?) or simple paninis and wraps (€2.80-€4.50) at the Hirschfeld Bar downstairs. Perhaps it’s better to wait for the oyster’s new bambino…

Weltwirtschaft | HKW, John-Foster-Dulles- Allee 10, Tiergarten, Fri-Mon 12-17, Tue 12-16, Wed 12-17, Thu 12-20

CU29 at the James-Simon-Galerie

Copper-cupped lemonades at Chipperfield’s riverside temple

Along with the inauguration of English architect David Chipperfield’s latest addi­tion to the Museuminsel, the James Simon Gallery, last June, came a new restaurant – and it’s all sterling copper! Overlooking the lower end of the Kupfergraben, CU29 stands startingly true to its name: it boasts a state-of-the-art copper ceiling, copper lamps, copper cups and copper straws. They even named dishes after the metal, like the “Drei Kupfer” pancakes (€8.50), a loose reference to the shiny-orangey shade of the crispy bacon that tops the stack. And the use of Cu doesn’t stop at aesthetics: the copper bottles in use at the café are supposed to bring you the Ayurvedic health benefit of alkaline water (get an all-you-can drink water flat rate for €2.50!). The menu covers the whole day, from vegan coconut porridge (€7.50) as a healthy brekkie (10-12) and a pulled pork open sandwich with Senfei concoction on top (€12) or the seasonal vegetarian option (€13 for a quinoa-rice noodle bowl with lentils and soy-roasted egg) for lunch (12-17), to fine dining over a plate of grilled beef tenderloin from Mecklen­burg (€32) and a sophisticated desert of warm ginger cheesecake with kumquat and chocolate (€9). There’s also decent coffee (€3) and traditional Käsekuchen (€4.50) and homemade lemonade (€4.50, copper-cupped!). Most spectacular of all though, remains the Spree-side ter­race alongside Chipperfield’s blinding-white neoclassical columns – peek across the river and you might be able to spot Angela Merkel in her living room!

CU29 | James-Simon-Galerie, Bodestr. 1-3, Mitte, Mon-Sun 10-23

Café Dix at the Berlinische Galerie

Curry and cocktails in disco-purple settings

Named after Otto Dix, the luminary behind much of the permanent collection of 1920s Expressionism at the Berlinische Galerie, Café Dix sets the scene for daytime baccha­nalia. With benches and columns swathed in an ultraviolet latex-like fabric and matching lilac lighting to boot, Café Dix appears to be doing all it can to recreate the ambience of a 1980s disco repurposed as a round-the-world carousel. Plucked from the various destina­tions that Lebanese manager Ibrahim Atoui visited during a 17-year career as a long-haul flight attendant, the mains are extravagantly eclectic, featuring everything from Middle Eastern mezze (€7.90 for the customer favourite ‘Chips & Dips’) to freshly prepared veggie Thai curry, deer goulash and German meatballs with chickpeas and bulgur, for under or around the €10 mark. Aside from nine different types of German cakes sup­plied by Prenzlauer Berg’s Wunderkuchen Konditorei, there are also long drinks such as Aperol Spritz and Gin and Tonic (€7.50), which enjoy a brow-raisingly high demand at noontime. Fortunately, the disco vibes stop at the speakers, as the gentle elevator music hardly plays over the packed tables buzzing with conversation. Come for the oversized mango lassi (€5) and stay for the anachro­nistic aesthetic as you ponder the darker connotations of the colour purple.

Café Dix | Berlinische Galerie, Alte Jakob­straße 124-128, Kreuzberg, Wed-Mon 10-19

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Photo by Berfin Karaman. Beba is located in Martin-Gropius-Bau.

Beba at the Gropius Bau

Oma-approved dishes from all over the (Jewish) world

It was Cynthia Barcomi whom the manage­ment of Gropius Bau first approached when considering an overhaul of the museum’s restaurant. But the queen of American-style delis instead recommended Israeli perfor­mance artist Shani Leiderman, who had been cooking up ideas of her own for a Jewish-themed eatery. The former set out to mentor her friend and partner, and in March of this year, Beba was born to the relief of Bau-regulars, who until then had been subjected to a kind of subpar cafeteria fare that didn’t do the institution justice. And the change is for all to see – Beba’s Infarm scaffolding, a floor-to-ceiling farm that takes up an entire Western Wall, and the row of oversized homemade pickle jars on the counter set the tone for a new era. The booklet containing their food offerings – more aptly described as an atlas than a menu – meticulously tracks the culinary traces that the Jewish diaspora has left around the globe, from Barcomi’s New York cheesecake (€4.50) to Iraqi sabich, a veritable buffet (including cold fried eggplant, organic eggs, caramelised onion, sumac, hummus and cheese) stuffed into a pita for a very reasonable €12. While the Mid­dle Eastern staples are guaranteed to dazzle, even the more generic extras are treated with dignity here: the ‘fries’ (€5), for example, are lemon-drizzled, skin-on potato wedges with a garlic kick, amply portioned and likely to tempt even the most carbohydrate-conscious of eaters. Communal tables provide a final family touch to an otherwise intimidating, nineteenth-century atrium, reminding visi­tors that the food prepared here is designed not only to nourish, but to unite.

Beba | Martin-Gropius-Bau, Niederkirchner­str. 7, Kreuzberg, Wed-Mon 10-19

me cafe at me Collectors Room

Exit through the coffee shop

Located right at the heart of the Mitte gallery trail, the me Collectors Room café makes the perfect spot for an afternoon snack – and you don’t even have to walk through the exhibi­tion to get your fix! Push the door to Stiftung Olbricht’s museum-gallery and you enter what resembles an oversized Nordic-style living room: rustic wooden tables to share and slender upholstered chairs give a cosy feel, while playful design details, such as the stuffed-bird chandelier hanging from the mez­zanine, invite further inspection of Olbricht’s famous “Cabinet of Curiosities”. On the menu there’s the house “Mitte Schnitte” (€5 for a set of three thick open-faced sourdough slices topped with anything from vegan beetroot hummus, to homemade egg salad and Serrano ham), cabbage stew and vegan coconut-pumpkin soup (both €6, served with bread). Fresh juices (€3-4.50) and home-style pastries (€3.50 for cream-topped Streuselkuchen squares) sit alongside ‘vegan’ waffles (€3- 6.90), which you can enjoy sweet and dairy-free (unless you’re one for vanilla ice cream!) or with… decisively un-vegan smoked salmon. If you’re looking for a little hit in between exhibitions, down a €1 Roman-style espresso at the bar. Fuel up and move on to the wicked gift shop, or, why not, to the art!

me cafe | me Collectors Room, Auguststr. 68, Mitte, Wed-Mon 12-18

Kaffeehaus Dallmayr at the Museum for Communication

Bavarian brekkie and all-you-can-eat Thursdays

Whether you need a break from viewing “Like You! Friendship – Digital and Analogue” (through Jul 5) or simply crave some Bavarian Weißwurst for breakfast, the Kaffeehaus Dallmayr, located right off the magnificent atrium of the landmarked neo-baroque building, is the place! Here, the Munich Kaffeehaus (as a matter of fact the only one outside of the coffee giant’s HQ) offers not only space (80 seats) but typical saniert flair complete with stucco ceiling and parquet flooring – and just the right amount of “C’mon have a Kaffee and another helping of whipped cream on your Käsekuchen”! The menu features everything from Alsatian Flammkuchen (€8.50 and €10.50 for a Spanish option with spicy chorizo and manchego) to vegan beetroot gnocchi (€11.50). But the real showstopper is Thurs­day’s “all-you-can-eat” business lunch buffet (12-14) that has three types of stews and casseroles on offer. Last month’s featured pork and veal goulash with Swabian-style Schupfnudeln and savoy cabbage alongside a Thai-style veggie curry, all for €9.80! It’s also the perfect vibe for afternoon coffee and cake. There’s a daily selection on display – ranging from plum-rhubarb Streuselkuchen to the chocolate-heavy Torte Royal (€3-5) – all sourced from Prenzlauer Berg’s Wun­derkuchen. Get yourself a huge slice of original German cheesecake with one of the Dallmayr coffee specialties (€2.50-7) and add an extra dollop of Sahne for only €0.30!

Kaffeehaus Dallmayr | Museum for Com­munication, Leipziger Str. 16, Mitte, Tue, Sat, Sun 11-18, Wed-Fri 11-17

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Photo by Javier Salvalle. Café Babbete is located in the Kindl Centre for Contemporary Art.

Café Babette at Kindl

Vegan treats in Neukölln’s brassy underbelly

Fancy some cutting-edge vegan fare among fermentation tanks in one of the most extraordinary art buildings of Neukölln? Meet Café Babette, set in the historical Sudhaus of the former Kindl brewery, housing six giant formerly active copper vessels and offering the Kindl’s art hipster visitors vegan dishes prepared in-house by French chef Sorrel Jardine. Jardine joined the team in Sep­tember 2018, after they had relocated from their no-less spectacular Karl-Marx-Allee setting, and has since been preparing weekly changing dishes like spicy dal (€4.50), savoy cabbage and pearl barley stew (€4.50) as well as rice bowls (small €6.50; large €8.50). But most popular of all are the sugar-free, gluten-free (worry-free?), 100-percent vegan cakes sourced from Schöneberg’s Goodies Deli’s range of nutty “energy” balls (€1.80) and kick-ass raw cakes – from the matcha-raspberry-lemon cheesecake (€3.90, raspber­ry-date base with matcha-green mirror top) to the chocolate matcha cheesecake (€3.90, raw chocolate, cocoa nibs, cashews, dates and almonds), a healthy, palatable concoc­tion boasting enough goodness to sustain you all day. If in (early) cocktaily mood, grab an Aperol Spritz (€5.50) or the zingy house Moscow Mule (€7.50), and stay for one of the cool monthly live concerts to enjoy the fer­mentation church’s sterling acoustics.

Café Babette | Kindl Center for Contemporary Art, Am Sudhaus 3, Neukölln, Wed-Sun 11-19

Restaurant im Hamburger Bahnhof

Hyperlocal foodie dining at Berlin’s artsiest train station

A cause célèbre at the time of its opening in 2003 by Sarah Wiener, the former TV chef and Berlin’s high priestess of all things slow, edible and locally produced (and, as of this March, an MP representing the Austrian Greens), the restau­rant at Hamburger Bahnhof has undergone a relaunch this spring. Returning to the basics, the new menu retains Wiener’s uncompromising commitment to quality. Here the Berliner Currywurst (€9.50, made with organic pork sourced from their Uckermark farm Gut Kerkow and home-made ketchup) sits comfortably next to German-Austrian staples (Königs­berger Klopse for €17.90, or Wiener Schnitzel for €23.90). The whitefish comes from Lake Müritz’ sustainable fishing (or, if not available, the North Sea) and has undergone in-house marination with herbs plucked from the museum’s front gar­den, before landing between two slices of delicious sourdough rye from Wiener’s own wood-fired bakery on Ackerstraße. If your first-choice dish is out of stock – which, by two o’clock, it is almost guaranteed to be – try the Senfei (€13.80, poached organic egg with mustard sauce, mash and spinach), one of many generously portioned brunch options. That the food is dew-fresh goes without saying, but with almost every ingredi­ent sourced from Berlin and its environs, you can rest assured that whatever you order will amount to nothing short of home on a plate.

Hamburger Bahnhof | Invalidenstr. 50-51, Tiergarten, Fri-Wed 10-18, Thu 10-20

LePopulaire at PalaisPopulaire

Let them eat “Prinzessinnentorte”

Located in the sunlit open foyer that welcomes visitors enter­ing the neoclassical “princess” palace that since September 2018 houses Deutsche Bank’s Art exhibition hall, LePopulaire offers modern international treats in no less modern asphalt-and-concrete minimalist design. Operated by staple museum caterers Kofler & Kompanie who also provide the goods at Bode Museum and Historisches Museum, the menu ranges from revisited German classics like Königsberger Klopse with “Kartoffelschnee” (€12) and goat cheese Flammkuchen with pumpkin and blood orange jam (€11) to a lamb’s lettuce with caramelised walnuts and pomegranates and a cardamon-sesame dressing (€10), to fusion cuisine like Mexican-inspired tortillas (€8.50) as well as a sushi rice bowl topped with pineapple salsa and salmon (€11) and an extensive international wine list to match (€6.50-€7.50 by the glass). There’s also a wide selection of cakes including a layered ganache – a majestic, chocolate Prinzessinnentorte that pays tribute to the “prin­cesses” of the premises (the palace was built by Wilhelm III for his daughters, who never actually lived here). Come on a Wednesday at one o’clock and the “Lunch+” combo will get you an all-organic menu and a short guided tour for €18! And if you happen to like it, you can also rent the palace for up to 150 of your closest friends.

LePopulaire | PalaisPopulaire, Unter den Linden 5, Mitte, Wed-Mon 9-18 (closing times may vary)