Berlin Part 13.1: Kebabs, Chocolate and Ouzo

Friday 25 February – Sunday 27 February 2022

Pre-pandemic, I loved a trip to Berlin – in 2018, I went four times. In 2019, I decided to calm it down a little. I only went once and, having been to the Christmas markets for three years in a row, I figured I’d skip them so they’d have some novelty value again when I went back in 2020. Needless to say, that plan didn’t quite work out thanks to a tiny global pandemic. In the end, it ended up being nearly three years before I finally made it back and, having not been in so long, there was only one thing I wanted to do … a nostalgia trip.

Day One: Friday

I arrived in Wilmersdorf after an early flight into the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport. After years of using the small and limited airport options at Tegal and Schönefeld, I was excited to see the new offering but didn’t get much of a chance coming through arrivals. I was then faced with the surprisingly poor signage that made trying to find the train station seem more trouble than it’s worth so I gave up on that pretty quickly and decided to get the bus to the U-Bahn station in Rudow instead. Apparently my decisiveness gave the impression that I knew what I was doing because people kept asking me questions. They were all left disappointed.

Given Brandenburg airport is in the same place as Schönefeld, I expected the journey to be much the same so I was slightly disappointed to find that the bus journey now takes even longer as the bus does the rounds of the different terminals before finally hitting the road. That made what was always an  annoyingly long journey even longer but I was too happy to be back in Berlin to care that much.

I got off the train at Blissestraße station and went straight to dump my bags and collect my Dad (who had arrived the night before). There was only one place I had in mind for my first pitstop… Max and Moritz for my favourite doner kebab. It tasted just as good as I remembered.

First agenda item down, it was time for the next one. While I may have been full of tasty kebab, the majority of things I like to do in Berlin are food related so my stomach was just going to have to step up. We hopped on the U Bahn and headed over to Stadtmitte. This area is filled with various landmarks, with the Berliner Dom, Unter den Linden, the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag all being within walking distance, but these were not what we were there for. We were there for Rausch chocolatiers on Gendarmenmarkt and, in particular, Rausch’s chocolate cafe. I can’t be in Berlin and not go here.

There was a slight queue when we arrived (without a reservation) but thankfully it didn’t take too long before a table for two opened up and we were seated. It had been my intention just to have a hot chocolate, given I had just eaten, which is rich and delicious and there was a risk that it alone might have been enough tip me over the edge. But Rausch also does the most delicious chocolate desserts and I hadn’t had my favourite in so long, so what was a girl to do? Answer: eat the chocolate dessert. I’m pretty sure calories don’t count on holiday anyway.

Once we’d finished, it was immediately on to the next destination – Newton Bar, also on Gendarmenmarkt. This bar might not be an obvious one to go to with a parent, given the walls are decorated with Helmut Newton’s famous photos of nudes, but we ended up there once when we stayed on the square as, during the hotter months, the bar extends out onto the street giving it nice summer vibes, and we’ve just continued to go there ever since. This time, we sat at the bar inside, with my Dad ordering beers, me ordering cocktails, and got slightly merrier than planned.

When we decided it was time to cut ourselves off and head back to Wilmersdorf, we realised we probably needed to get some dinner en route home. I was still stuffed but I only had two dinners in Berlin during my short trip and I couldn’t waste one.

We knew exactly where we wanted to go – Nea Knosso, a Greek restaurant round the corner from where we were staying. We didn’t have a reservation so knew we needed to go earlier rather than later as it’s very popular with the locals. We arrived and were seated at the last free table in the place. Despite not having been there for a couple of years, the owner immediately recognised my Dad, which is indicative of what makes this restaurant really feel like a local favourite that you want to visit regularly. We were also welcomed with a shot of ouzo.

Despite the extensive menu, we always order the same thing – well my Dad does at least and I often follow suit: feta salad to start (which is basically an entire slab of feta on a bed of salad) and the lamb cutlets. This time, the menu had changed and we couldn’t see the feta salad. This was devastating but I was still pretty full and we actually did see someone being delivered a feta salad later so I still hope to get it again one day. The lamb cutlets, however, were still firmly on the menu so we both ordered those (Dad with green beans, me with aubergine) and we didn’t have to wait long for it to come our way (another ouzo shot had also been delivered to our table by this point). As delicious as it was, this was sadly the point in the day where my stomach could go on no more and I had to hand my leftovers over to my Dad. He did not mind.

We didn’t stick around for long after. Once we were done, all I wanted to do was crash on the sofa in front of a movie and pass out into a food coma and that is exactly what we did.

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