The Alpenstueck group have carved themselves out a neat little corner in this quiet pocket of Mitte. (Interesting article on Iris Schmeid, owner of the group here.) If this group were a haircut, they would be buzzed up nice and neat in the back, with a plummeting horizontal fringe. Black, of course and very very straight. In other words, in control, high maintenance and stylish.
It started off with just Alpenstueck on an attractive corner site. With a large wall of stacked up logs, gray leather banquettes, large wicker baskets, antlers (lamps, coat hangers or just piled up in a corner), with pale gingham lampshades. During peak traffic times in Berlin (like the fashion shows or the Berlinale) getting a table is impossible. Probably because Alpenstueck is the kind of place that visually impresses and because the staff have enough pedigree that you can count on them to be polite, spot your empty glass and even smile now and again.The food is a combination of 2 kitchens you will encounter often in Berlin: Swabian & Viennese (which all places here refer to as Alpine – but I ask you, where is the rösti and the fondue then?). Meaning you can expect schnitzel, maultaschen, the vinegared potato salad, the wilted cucumber ribbons, goulash, kässpätzle, sauerbraten and so on. I prefer the goulash at Meierei, the maultaschen at Manufactum and the schnitzel at Ottenthal. But Meierei is a deli with limited seating that is closed for dinner; Manufactum is also a deli with annoying bar stools serving food on huge plates and tiny tables; and Ottenthal is almost too grown up (when being grown up meant boring and stuffy) and you always need a reservation. I guess if I had a friend in town that I wanted to impress, I would probably take them to Alpenstueck too. The added charm of Alpenstueck is that the streets around it feel abandoned and dark, probably cold because let’s remember we are in Berlin, then you see the warm glow of the restaurant, the smiling guests inside and you think, ‘Oo, I bet it’s nice in there.’And it is nice. I don’t love the food though. I don’t hate it either. I like it, it’s good, it’s solid and reliable. For me, it’s the package that is the ultimate draw to Alpenstueck: looks, good food, service, ambiance, comfort, professionalism.
If you are interested but not ready to commit an evening to Alpenstueck, there is a compromise that doesn’t really feel like a compromise – Bäckerei across the street. They have daily lunch specials for €8 – €9 which allow you to make your way through some of the dishes that are served at Alpenstueck. Portions are huge, go hungry, skip dinner. I love it in there. It makes me happy in the way pretty things do. Their baked goods are delicious and such a welcome perk in Mitte where we have not butchers, bakers or candle stick makers. And I’ve been meaning to try their breakfast for ages, maybe this weekend? Last to join the Alpenstueck group has been the Manufaktur, ‘factory’. Which is a stamp sized shop selling apples, jams and vacuum packed spätzle and the like.
Alpenstueck, Bäckerai (across the street) & Manufaktur (next door)
Gartenstrasse 9, Mitte
Tel. 217 516 46,
ou coming back.