If there’s one thing you notice when entering Allan’s Breakfast Club (ABC), it’s Allan, the personable chap who immediately comes to greet you with a mix of casual Aussie warmth and Gallic bon vivant spirit. Welcome to Prenzlauer Berg’s first Australian café, where you can indulge in Antipodean brunch during the day and sip on French wines at night. ABC boasts some of both cultures’ best attributes: free-flowing tap water, friendly efficient service and a classic croque monsieur. And they seem to have mastered the art of poaching eggs, not a small feat for Berlin.
This isn’t some gimmick brought back from a gap year. Allan is a Frenchman who lived half of his life in Sydney and speaks Aussie English with a French lilt. His mum is a chef, and during his three years in Berlin, Allan has worked everywhere from Grill Royal’s bar to the recently shuttered Melbourne Canteen. After a successful pop-up on Unter den Linden, the thirtysomething went sedentary and is now blessing Kollwitzkiez with a proper expat-style brunch – a novelty in this part of town, where breakfast largely remains a German hodgepodge of nondescript cold cuts and cheese.
Besides the mishmash of French (an issue of Charlie Hebdo) and Australian paraphernalia (an “I heart Sydney” sticker), the one-room café is rife with clever design details: a skateboard truck turned coat hook under the counter, honey jars certified by the German Beekeepers’ Association as water glasses. It’s small and cosy, and on any weekend morning a startling number of brunchers (make sure to reserve days in advance!) sit on high stools at the window or at the counter, or on vintage school chairs around the long dining table.
So what have they come for? Mostly beautifully poached eggs served as spicy shakshouka (€9) or with a side of green asparagus and prosciutto (€10). And of course Benedict-style (€10), with a convincing hollandaise and a choice of Parma ham or Allan’s house-cured salmon – a secret four-day ritual involving beetroot, hence the unusual reddish colour. Those beautiful chunks of fish are something to die for, and if you have an egg aversion you can order them with smashed avocado on top of two bagel halves (or toasted sourdough, on demand) for €10. It’s all so rich (in a good way) that we suggest sharing a plate and keeping some room for dessert (warm banana bread, brownies…). For a lighter treat, there are salads (quinoa, pumpkin, pomegranate and blue cheese, €10) or simply delicious “avo” toast (€6).
After 7:30pm the place morphs into a French wine bar with cold plates, cheese soufflé and a clever DIY boozing concept: help yourself to as many of the 12 open wines as your liver can handle, write down each wine’s number on a provided sheet of paper and pay at the end (€2.50-5). Noteworthy is the unusual abundance of rosés, including a Château Miraval from the Brangelina estate.
Open just four days a week, this is a place of indulgence, where a friend might drop by with a box of sweet treats from a Berlin patissier and Allan will open a glass of champagne (rosé, of course). It’s a quiet 3pm on a Thursday – what better way to enjoy a moment of peace before the evening rush?