After giving up on his failed fancy Italian (San Nicci) on Friedrichstraße, restaurateur Roland Mary – owner of the high-society brasserie Borchardt – decided to relaunch the same space as a mid-range German gastropub with a contemporary-rustic feel, complete with efficient waitstaff in lumberjack shirts and jeans. In perfect tune with the current back-to-the-Heimat zeitgeist, Fritz 101 offers a “culinary journey through German lands” – and a rather less tacky one than the new Hofbräu-factory-cum-amusement near Alexanderplatz.
The trip begins with a promptly delivered bread basket, filled with delicious slices of two exciting varieties of house-made dark and dense German bread. Unsurprisingly, the beer list is Bavaria-dominated, with a focus on Benedictine-brewed Andechser (three types on tap) and another three bottled sorts.
Wines are served in those stout Germanic glasses with thick green stems. Our tip: don’t bother with the Silvaner – unless you like it sweet. Stick with Grauburgunder. Boycott the house mineral water, unforgivingly packaged in a chichi bottle and called “L’eau Sans Souci” (it actually comes from Brandenburg).
The meaty menu runs the gamut of regional grub from Berlin-style veal liver with mash to Bavarian pork knuckle (Grillhaxe, €12.50) with Bayerisch-Kraut and pretzel-dough dumplings. Let’s not forget the veal Wiener Schnitzel – a favourite on the Borchardt menu.
With dishes like potato mash with creamed spinach and fried egg, or meat-free Flammkuchen, vegetarians have more to chose from than at the average Eckkneipe.
The place’s distinctive drive for quality can lead to lack of judgement: why serve the Königsberger Klopse (meatballs with a caper sauce) with poorly cooked, overly salted rice instead of the usual potatoes? Too bad because they cook them well – judging from the delicious potato salad: perfectly cooked, perfectly dressed, a real spud-feast.
Mary’s taste and sense of professionalism have turned the place into a recommendable eatery, frequented by a large cross-section of Berliners, from families to yuppie lunchers to yukis on their girls’ night out. Plus, you’re served fast, and can dine well – with proper serviettes, no less. Based on our experience of ‘authentic’ German pubs, it could be much worse!