Steen Hanssen finds a lovely Berlin lunch Kneipe at Die Stadtklause.
By Steen Hanssen
In the rather inconspicuous looking Bernburger Str. 35 in Kreuzberg, a stone throw away from the sad remains of the once magnificent Anhalter Bahnhof and just an eight minute walk from Potsdamer Platz, lies a Berliner gem called Die Stadtklause. It’s mostly a beer Kneipe (German pub) but also functions as a popular and busy lunch venue offering traditional old school Berliner cuisine, cozy ambiance and fascinating history.
Traditional Berliner cuisine is hearty, rustic, based around pork, duck, goose, peas, beans, potatoes and cabbage. To put it simply, it’s honest cooking and Germans refer to it as “Hausmannskost” comfort food that leaves you with a full belly and a smile on your face. This type of venue and menu is increasingly becoming a rare sight in Berlin, with fancy concept restaurants, celebrity chefs and a vibrant mushrooming street food scene currently the dominating trends.
I’m having lunch at Die Stadtklause every possible Wednesday (for almost a year now) and absolutely enjoy the food as well as the friendly historic atmosphere, with old photographs, dark wooden furnishing and even a real fireplace. Most of the lunch crowd are local Berliners working nearby, and when they walk in they’ll shout out “Mahlzeit!” which is a German salutation meaning “meal-time” used only in the context of lunch with co-workers.
You may choose between two daily lunch dishes: normally a stew or soup with a slice of home made bread and something with pork and potatoes/cabbage. Amazingly the food is always delicious, especially during the cold winter season. This week the menu includes:
Kasselerbraten mit Spätzle und geschmorten grünen Bohnen (cured and/or smoked cut of pork, typically loin or neck with Spätzle and green beans) for 4.50 euros
Erbsensuppe mit Karottenschaum und Weißbrot-Croutons (pea soup with carrot sauce and whitebread crutons) for 2.80 euro
Deftiger, pikanter Kartoffelgulasch mit scharfer Wurst und Paprikagemüse (hearthy and spicy potato gulasch with hot saussage and bellpeppers) 4.50 euros
After lunch Die Stadtklause turns into a more traditional Kneipe and watering hole with a an interesting history: The late Bruno S. an artist, actor and street musician spent his last years performing in Die Stadtklause. He was a true Berliner original and starred in two movies directed by the brilliant German auteur Werner Herzog (“The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser” & “Stroszek”) Bruno S., abandoned as a baby to an orphanage, spent his youth in mental institutions during the Nazi era. He later taught himself to play the accordion and the glockenspiel. In the 70ties Bruno S. became somewhat of a cult figure and celebrity for German intellectuals and artists before slipping into obscurity and forgottenness living the rest of his life performing on the streets of Berlin before passing away in 2010. A couple years ago The New York Times ran a story about Bruno S and his performances in Die Stadtklause.
Should you find yourself at Potsdammer Platz during lunch time, don’t cheat yourself for a genuine taste of old school Berlin cuisine and authentic atmosphere at Die Stadtklause.
Bernburger Str. 35, 10963 Berlin
Steen Hanssen is a Berlin based food writer who loves to eat, drink, cook, read, write and think about good food and beverages. Though Kierkegaard argues it'll lead to failure and despair, Steen embraces the aesthetic sphere of existences striving for novelty, pleasure seeking while edging towards the perfect asparagus experience. Steen is also a contributor to Serious Eats.