Archive | May, 2014

Review of Lutter und Wegner Restaurant

25 May

by Rhea H. Boyden


                       Lutter und Wegner Restaurant at Gendarmenmarkt

Berlin has a whole range of eateries ranging from the simple curry sausage stand to an elegant brunch served at the fancy Adlon Hotel with a view of the Brandenburg Gate. There is something to suit everybody’s budget, lifestyle and taste. If you are looking for something special with a serious dose of Berlin history, then you could do very well to treat yourself to an evening meal at Lutter und Wegner at Gendarmenmarkt in the historic centre of Berlin.

The modern restaurant is located behind the fabulous Konzerthaus that was designed by the renowned Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, and was opened 1821. On either side of the Konzerthaus lie the German Cathedral and the French Cathedral, each of which have a long history of destruction and renewal throughout Berlin’s turbulent history. The restaurant is decorated and furnished with a combination of contemporary art, as well as traditional furnishings. The Jugendstil lamps are from Vienna and there is a bronze sculpture of a monkey sitting on the bar to greet guests that was crafted by the German artist Joerg Immendorf. There are three beautifully painted columns that are named ‘wine, woman and song’, that are the work of the German artists who belong to the group known as the ‘Neuen Wilden’ (new wild ones) whose aim was to break free of stiff conventions in art in the 1970’s and create a newer, freer form of expression.


                              Konzerthaus with statue of Schiller

While dining on a traditional veal cutlet, or a delicious slow-cooked goulash served with exquisite Swabian noodles, your eyes may also fall upon a painting of the eccentric genius E.T.A. Hoffmann, the famous German fantasy and horror writer who penned the novella ‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King’ upon which Tchaikovsky based his famous ballet. There is also a room in the restaurant named after Ludwig Devrient, who was one of the best and beloved actors in Germany in the early 1800’s when the restaurant first opened its doors in 1811 at its original location a few doors down from the present day location. Devrient made a name for himself playing Mephisto in Goethe’s Faust, and also for his interpretation of the works of Shakespeare and Schiller. The restaurant is indeed indebted to both of these talented men for its early success. They would wine and dine the night away after an evening at the theatre, and people would pack the restaurant in the hopes of eavesdropping on or partaking in their conversations. It was E.T.A. Hoffmann and Ludwig Devrient who came up with the name ‘sekt’ for sparkling wine, a name that is still used throughout Germany as a generic name for different brands. Lutter and Wegner has its own house sekt, as well as a wide range of exquisite wines to satisfy every palette. The young Romantic poet Heinrich Heine was another of the restaurant’s famous patrons in the early 1800’s.


                         E.T.A. Hoffmann Plaque

In the 1920’s, as Berlin was flourishing culturally, it was home to 3 opera houses, 49 theatres, 70 cabarets and 363 cinemas. More and more cafes and restaurants opened during this time to accommodate the many actors, artists, performers, theatre and movie goers, and Lutter und Wegner did a roaring trade in this time too. During the Second World War, however, Gendarmenmarkt was nearly completely destroyed by allied bombing in 1944/45 but this did not stop the restaurant from operating for long. A previous employee of the restaurant named Hermann Neumann continued serving wine from the bombed-out ruins of the wine cellar on Gendarmenmarkt in June 1946.

During GDR times, however, the restaurant was forced to close its doors, but swiftly opened them again at a new location in West Berlin. Finally, after the Berlin Wall fell it then returned to Gendarmenmarkt in 1997, but not to its original location, but by a wonderful twist of fate, a few doors down, in none other than the former home of one of its first and most famous patrons, E.T.A. Hoffmann.


 Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral) at Gendarmenmarkt


Französischer Dom  (French Cathedral) at Gendarmenmarkt

The restaurant has now expanded and has many different locations, both in Berlin and Hamburg and the Austrian Spa resort of Bad Gastein, and each has its own delicious offering of German and international cuisine, along with extensive wine lists. Some delicacies on the menu of the diffferent Berlin restarants include Pot au Feu, aubergine lasagne, shrimp with chantarelle risotto served with grapes, estragon, spring onions and corn salad, a fantastic chicory salad with goat’s cheese, pomegranate seeds, mandarine and crunchy homemade bread, caesar salad, as well as classic meat dishes such as roast duck with dumplings and red cabbage. Lamb chops and steaks are available for the carnivores. For those with a sweet tooth a seasonal mulled wine ice-cream, crème brulee, chocolate mousse and of course the traditional apple strudel with vanilla ice-cream is served. An evening at Lutter und Wegner is a sweet and heady mix of wine, food and history that is bound to leave you happy, sated and inspired.


Breakfast at Breakers Restaurant

23 May

By Rhea H. Boyden


When I am in Berlin I generally have a light breakfast of fruit, yogurt and muesli, or perhaps I will have one egg on a small piece of toast. It is only on special occasions when I am with family in Ireland or the U.S. that I will go mad and have pancakes, waffles, omelettes and bacon. Several of my siblings love making pancakes and french toast so it is always nice on holidays to indulge a bit and eat the delicacies that are placed before me.


My aunt and uncle live in Pacifica which is a town on the Californian coast just south of San Francisco and north of Half Moon Bay. My dad grew up there before he moved to Ireland and he and my uncle were keen surfers. Pacifica has a popular surfing beach- Linda Mar Beach-which attracts surfers from all around the Bay Area.


View of Linda Mar Beach, Pacifica

A new breakfast, brunch and lunch restaurant named Breakers opened in Pacifica last year, and while I was visiting my aunt and uncle this May we went there for breakfast twice. Just over the hill from Linda Mar Beach is the Pacifica neighbourhood of Rockaway Beach which has a few other nice restaurants too such as The Moonraker that my grandparents used to take me to in the 90’s and Nick’s which has cocktails and crab cakes.


Eggs Benedict with Hash Browns

Breakers is run by father and son Steve and Robbie Bancroft from Pacifica and it is their dream come true to finally open this restaurant. The first time I went there I couldn’t resist the Eggs Benedict with crab cake and hash browns. The second time, when my sister came along we ordered the plain Eggs Benedict and a large blueberry waffle which we then split. The hardest decision at a breakfast place like this is deciding whether you are in the mood for a sweet or savoury dish so it is great to be able to order both and share. Some of the neighbours joined us for breakfast and one of them ordered the chocolate chip pancake which looked like a giant chocolate chip cookie. The fun bit of course, is then covering it in whipped butter and heated maple syrup. The Breakers wait staff always make sure you have a full pot of fresh coffee and a jug of iced water on your table too. 


View of Rockaway Beach from Breakers Restaurant

Other specialities include a Lox and Bagel, Eggs Florentine with sliced avocado and spinach, cranberry pecan pancakes, raisin walnut pancakes, as well as every conceivable type of omelette. Breakers, which is located at 135 Rockaway Beach Avenue, is also open for lunch serving lunch crepes, tuna melt on rye bread, burgers, Reuben sandwiches, clam chowder and a great variety of salads.

I felt no guilt in indulging because after breakfast when staying with my aunt and uncle we always go for a long walk on the beach and then climb the extremely steep hill back up to their house which certainly burns the calories off again. Breakers is a delightful place to breakfast while on holiday and I look forward to going back sometime and trying their enticing lunch menu.