Sabzi, Cheap Oriental Food, Mitte

The team behind Sabzi excel at making much out of little.  They’ve taken what should be a dark dinky basement space and turned it into a serene place, with abstract filigree wall paintings that mimic the overall shape of the sign outside.  A girl with sleek hair, the colour of charcoal, thick eyelashes and similarly thick voice serves from the selections of 5 to 6 stew like dishes from food warmers.  All for €4.50.You get a lot for €4.50 here.  Normally I would argue in the vein of Linda Evangelista, who once famously said they (supermodels) don’t get out of bed in the morning for less than $10’000, that a cook wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning for a cut price lunch deal.  The crew (skeleton though I am assuming it is) do.  Hurrah for that!  It saves Mitte from another uninspired offering of meatballs and mash or bratkartoffeln with (umm, with what? I never order these things).  Or cut price sushi.  Or some vaguely Vietnamese - Thai soup.

In a sea of spuds and pork, these guys are offering fluffy rice that smells like it’s been toasted with a few generous ladles of stew.  Vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.  Although I always get the vegetarian option.  For about 3 reasons: 500g a week is what is recommended to ward off certain cancers; the rearing of red meat is straining to the planet; I abhor generic meat, it’s tantamount to eating that weird mouldable cheese that comes packed in individual plastic sheets and calling that Keen’s Cheddar Cheese. Read more of this post

Auf Die Hand, Fine Fastfood, Mitte

Auf die hand is my local. Unexpectedly, it means I rarely eat there  because it’s so close to my house that it seems lazy not to take a few more steps to my flat and make my own lunch.  On the other hand, its proximity comes in handy on occasions when I need to meet people for coffee and don’t know them well enough to invite them to the flat or on one of those exceedingly rare occasions when I am running out for an early appointment or best one yet, when I am going to the Zoo or any other such  destination where the food is bound to be inferior.I was underwhelmed by auf die hand when I first moved into the flat and everyone kept telling me it was there.  It just seemed like a gussied up Pret a Manger and there was no way I was going to miss the bane of the triangle sandwich chain or so I smugly thought…  Smugness it turns out, is closely related to Pride - one of the seven deadly sins.  (I don’t need a film starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman to know it’s bad form to indulge in these bad boys)  Now I often find myself hankering after a free range egg salad sandwich or a chunky humous salad wrap.  (Although I would still insist on the sandwich coming to something resembling room temperature)Like the Prets and Eats of the UK, auf die hand does soups, stews, cakes, cookies and a warm meal of the day which goes for around €6.50 (It bears noting that for €3 more, you can go around the corner to Traube and have the special of the day or for €4.50 you can descend into the subterranean world of Persian food at Sabzi- open for lunch only and then there is the newly opened Jones Food Store on Reinhardstrass which I’ve yet to try but looks promising).  The €6.50 hot lunch price tag garners a lot of disapproval from its benefactors who are sensitive to the unspoken lunch rule of nothing over €5 that persists in Berlin.  Despite this, they are heaving at lunch, throw a little sunshine into the mix - when auf die hand put out their candy coloured chairs - and the shelves are bare by 3.  Which is just as well since they shut at 6. Read more of this post


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