To begin with, the train stop is Alexanderplatz- a cluster of mismatched buildings which look like they were put there by a child playing building blocks. Someone who thinks it’s perfectly normal that Barbie, Minnie Mouse and a couple of Lego figures should all be having tea together.
If you walk down from the station to Karl-Liebknecht-Straße, you have to walk by the ugly shop fronts exhibiting their wares, cringe inducing shoes for €10 or worse, a 3D Buddha who follows you as you walk by. (now who is the snob?)If Sylee hadn’t told me HBC. was up the stairs, I would have walked right past it. Many times. Another Berlin characteristic, while restaurants the world over shout from the highest mountain about their presence, quite a few restaurants in Berlin are happy to crouch on a bar stool, legs crossed, arms folded and let you figure it out.
Then there is the space itself. Enormous. And the number of bodies contained within, the merest fraction of what they should be to make the rent of such a large place, with views of St. Mary’s Church and the top-heavy Fernsehturm, viable.As for “What does it say it does on the box?”. Well what doesn’t it do? ‘A combination art gallery, lounge, party space and art-world cantina’ (excerpt from the New York Times Review, full article here). In a city where central commercial space is still plentiful and cheap (unlike apartments which, I’ve been looking to buy, have become freakin’ expensive considering the low rents you get) you often get this mixed use of space.The waiter can not be readily identified as such, except that at some point he struts over, hips thrust forward and carves out a dramatic arc through the air with the menus as he hands them over to us. His arms are (of course) tattooed, an interesting medley the most striking of which is a series of faded burgundy rings, like bracelets or uniform zebra stripes that run up his forearm.
The dining room is eclectic. Plastic chairs I remember from my art classes coupled with starched heavy tablecloths and glasses so polished, they look like they just came out of their box. Heavy cement lamps, suspended over most tables and emanating a warm orange light. Not forgetting the large windows with a view onto St. Mary’s Church.
The menu is only €33 for 3 courses and a side. There are some kooky things to be found on it, a rhubarb risotto for instance. The exotic sounding glazed duck with kumquat and liquorice onion which on the plate is a perfectly tame pan-fried duck breast, a neat huddle of kumquats off to one side and an onion not quite tender enough for me to eat with no discernible taste of liquorice.It is plated prettily. The white asparagus spears come parceled up with chives as twine and purple chive flowers as embellishment. The lemon meringue tartlets are adorned with paper-thin lemon slices balanced on top like a ferris wheel.I enjoyed my meal, it’s a departure from the bog standard menu in Berlin. On the other hand, I didn’t like a lot of what my friend ordered. I found some of the combinations didn’t work or were not cooked as well as they could have been.