While the concept of brunch can apparently “be partly traced back to the upper-class British tradition of hunting luncheons,” it’s the Americans who popularised Sunday brunch, complete with boozy drinks. I’m neither British nor American, but I’ve always enjoyed the idea of having a laid-back morning somewhere between “very early” and “oh no the day is half over” while enjoying a spread of eggs, pancakes, coffee, and juice while musing over life with good friends.
Here in Europe, it seems eating somewhere between breakfast and lunch (usually around 11am) has only caught up in the past decade or so. A true-blue Frenchman would probably cringe at the very idea of not eating at the proper time of day. While the English do enjoy eggs in the morning, the French, Italians and Spanish prefer to have something sweet for breakfast — usually bread with butter and jam, or pastries, with strong coffee. Germans may be a little more flexible on the sweet or savoury scale as bread, butter, jam, sausage, quark and muesli feature on their breakfast tables.
But Berlin, with its recently-gained reputation of being the place to be for young creatives, entrepreneurs and hipsters, will leave all you brunch lovers spoilt for choice. If you feel like having both pancakes and eggs at 11am, no one will bat an eyelid. Berlin is also heaven for the Instragram-savvy, healthy-eating type. If you’d like bulletproof coffee or a detox green smoothie with your food, no problem. But for now, Bloody Marys and Mimosas are nowhere to be found, thus remaining signatures of the New York City boozy brunch.
Here are a few of my favourite spots, described by my Berliner friend as “proper hipster” brunch places. I’m no hipster, but you’ll no doubt find me in any of these nooks.
Pannierstrasse 64, 12043 Berlin
Roamers is a real visual treat. Every corner of the wood-panelled café is a food photographer’s dream. The rustic, cozy interior filled with browns and greens tells you you’ve entered an organic-loving space, where gluten-free and vegan options are available and asking for oat, soya or almond milk with your coffee will get you a knowing smile, not an eye-roll.
Their food photos are also visual treats, clearly taken with Instagram in mind. But far from being all form and no substance, the beautifully laid out smorgasboard of healthy, unprocessed, whole foods did not disappoint. The servings were a decent size and everything on that tray was fresh, colourful, and bursting with flavour. To top it all off, the flat white I had was excellent. Believe me, I am the flat white police.
Interestingly enough, we found ourselves seated next to a young French couple. The guy had obviously done his research and was so proud to take his girlfriend to one of the best brunch places in town. He kept telling her this was one of the best-reviewed cafés in Berlin. Alas, she took one look at the menu, glanced at my food, and like a true French, grimaced at the thought of having eggs in the morning. Her choice? French toast. Which, by the way, looked absolutely amazing.
Dieffenbachstraße 54, 10967 Berlin
Located on a beautiful tree-lined street with posh-looking apartment blocks, Schönes Café basically serves fluffy pancakes, cakes, scrambled eggs, bacon and coffee. There’s not much else on the menu, but if you’re in the mood for any of these five things, this place is worth going out of your way for.
First, I had a much-needed coffee. It was good, not the best I’ve had. I ordered the blueberry pancake stack with blueberry sauce and maple syrup, while my companion got the camembert filled pancakes with cranberry sauce and maple syrup with an extra order of scrambled eggs and crispy bacon. The cakes displayed at the counter looked delectable, but I had already reached my sugar limit with two pancakes. The servings were big vis-a-vis the price, but it was a little too much for me. I got tired of the same flavour two pancakes in. Apart from that, I was a very happy bruncher. We were full until late in the evening!
Stresemannstraße 72, 10963 Berlin
On our last morning in Berlin, I wanted to have one last proper breakfast at a nice local café. I’ve been walking past Maracay Coffee everyday since we arrived, but never really tried it. I’m so glad we did! They serve all-day breakfast, and more importantly, it’s the first café with bulletproof coffee at the top of the menu. I’ve always been curious about it and finally, I’ve tried it. This one had coffee, butter and coconut oil. It was quite nice, but the more I drank it, the more it tasted like mushrooms. It did the job though—it satisfied my curiosity for bulletproof coffee. And while this one didn’t blow me away, it made me want to try other recipes and variations, or make my own version at home.
The green detox smoothie was nice, mainly because it’s such a pleasure to be able to order all these ‘healthy’ things in one place. Cakes, pastries, cheese and sausage platters, eggs on toast, gluten-free and vegan treats—it’s a cozy and convenient place to get a nice healthy brunch.
More to come!