“Brunch,” I was told my first day in town, “is big in Berlin.”
Having just come from New York, a city where weekend brunch is practically a religion, I almost snorted, wondering how different or striking this meal could possibly be in Berlin.
As my host led me down the cobblestoned streets of the city’s fashionable Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, however, I quickly realized my folly …
Now, if you’ve never been to Prenzlauer Berg, it’s pretty much the West Village of Berlin. And on a sunny Sunday in February, even though there’s still a clear nip in the air, every restaurant with sizeable sidewalk space or a terrace is bursting at the seams with well-heeled brunchers huddled under heating lamps, bundled up in restaurant-issued blankets. (The latter is my favorite detail about Berlin outdoor dining — cozy blankets!)
The options make this still jet-lagged head spin — should we stop for a Russian feast of smoked fish and blintzes at Pasternak or a Middle Eastern buffet of hummus and pastas just next door?
In the end, a classic Berlin brunch beckons and Anna Blume it is.
This place is a favorite not just of my host but also just about half of Berlin, it seems from the packed tables spilling out far into the sidewalk. Named for a poem that German artist Kurt Schwitters penned in 1919, the restaurant is also a flower shop, which gives the place a lovely scent and setting.
The menu is hefty, filled with omelets, crepes, sandwiches and more. But judging from the tables all around us, the set brunch (17,50 Euros for two people) — served in three-tiered towers overflowing with meats, cheeses, fruit, spreads, salad, eggs and smoked fish, is the way to go.
A basket of bread arrives almost immediately. (I’m jumping ahead a little here but each of these rolls was just terrific.)
But the star of this show, of course, was the towering brunch smorgasbord before us. There were six kinds of cheese, delicious sliced meats, smoked fish, pate and just about the creamiest, tastiest, most perfectly done scrambled eggs I’ve tasted.
When we’d worked our way through as much of the savory as we could, the sweet and tart jams and deliciously rich butters were a fantastic capper with more of that fabulous bread.
Sadly, even though I’d arrived famished, I ended up not eating it all. The temptation to sip more coffee and keep nibbling was there but just a few steps away lay sunshine, beautiful Berlin streets, a city to explore.
And after this meal, I was more than fortified for the expedition. My host had been right — these Berlin brunches, they’re big.
Anna Blume, Kollwitzstraße 83, 10435 Berlin, Germany; +49.30.44048641; http://www.cafe-anna-blume.de/