Sunday, October 5, 2014

Café Berlin

Serving traditional German cuisine on Capitol Hill since 1986, Café Berlin occupies the ground floor of three joined townhouses whose front yards serve as patios for outdoor dining in warm weather. The interior features a small bar and two prettily decorated dining rooms. The chefs at Café Berlin are German, as are the owners, so the traditional dishes are authentically prepared but with a lighter touch. Changing seasonal menus feature fresh asparagus in the spring, Bavarian dishes during Oktoberfest, and wild game in the winter. Desserts are made in-house, and the extensive repertoire includes apple strudel, black forest cake, and luscious cream tortes. The bar offers a selection of imported German beers and wines as well as cocktails. Closest Metro is Union Station.

October 2008: We’ve been here a couple times for happy hour to enjoy a nice masse of quality German beer and people watch. Decided to try the food again during Oktoberfest and was pleasantly surprised. Sitting outside on the patio has much more ambience than the dining area indoors. The Spaten Oktoberfest on tap was delicious. I was tempted by the dessert tray that kept floating around, but unfortunately chose the wrong item. I should have picked the homemade apple strudel – maybe next time. Café Berlin is among our favorite restaurants in the city for authentic German beer and cuisine.

October 2010: We went back again this year for the Oktoberfest menu and Spaten beer. So authentic and delicious! It was pretty crowded, yet we managed to snag a small table on the patio. The weather was perfect, a very mild 70 degrees. Just lovely.

October 2014: It was a crisp fall day, and we were really craving some Oktoberfest fare.  We ordered a Hofbrau Oktoberfest - very light and crisp.  

We were pretty hungry so we shared the starter of Obatzer und Bretzel.  The beer cheese spread is made with beer, Camembert, butter, caraway, and paprika and was served on a cute cutting board in the shape of Germany with two Bavarian style pretzels.  The beer cheese spread was a little on the thick side, and Keith thought it was almost fatty, but U think that was just from the type of cheese used.  The pretzels were piping hot and tasted great with the beer.

We also shared the Gefullte Champignons - breaded, fried, smoked pork loin stuffed mushroom caps with a house made remoulade.  The mushrooms were pretty tasty, though I wish we had more than three in our serving.

For my main dish, I ordered one of my favorites - Huhnerschnitzel. Chicken breast is pounded thin, then breaded and pan fried.  It was served with spätzle, mushroom-cream gravy, and seasonal vegetables.  The mushroom gravy was just delightful and the spätzle was perfectly salted and the great vehicle to soak up the gravy.  I really enjoyed this plate and devoured the whole thing.

Keith wanted to order his favorite Oktoberfest special - the grilled Schweinehaxe - but unfortunately, they had just ran out.  Instead they offered a boiled version of the pig's knuckle served with sauerkraut and potato dumplings.  Even thought the meat was from the same cut, it didn't have the same flavor or texture from the grill.  The skin was a bit thick and fatty, and the boiled meat was similar to classic Easter ham.  Nevertheless, Keith finished his plate and really liked the purple cabbage.

We were the last patrons there, as it was already 9pm, but service was still a bit slow.  They had a tent set up over the patio to give an extra "Biergarten" feel.  The servers were also dressed up in traditional German garb to celebrate the Oktoberfest season, which added to charm.  Cafe Berlin still remains our favorite German restaurant in DC.

Total Rating: 4.05
Food: 4, Price: 4, Service: 3, Ambience: 5, Accessibility: 5

What I ate:

Chicken Cordon Bleu
in an orange creme sauce served with rice and a side salad

sauteed center cut of pork topped with Hunter mushroom gravy
served with mixed vegetable and spätzle

Apple Strudel
homemade, layered apples in a light flaky crust served with vanilla cream

Vegetarian Entree
Fresh Spinach with Goat Cheese & Crushed Red Peppers, on a Pickled Beet Sauce
Served with New Potatoes

Bailey’s Cream Cake
Layered chocolate cake with Bailey’s Cream liquor and marshmallow frosting
with chocolate sprinkles and chopped nuts

Obatzer und Bretzel
Bier Cheese Spread with two Bavarian style pretzels

Gefullte Champignons
breaded, fried, smoked pork loin stuffed mushroom caps, house made remoulade

chicken breast, pounded thin, breaded, pan fried, spätzle, mushroom-cream gravy,
seasonal vegetable

Plus Keith ate:

chunks of braised beef in gravy served with spätzle and warm saurkraut

Gegrillte Schweinehaxe
Grilled Pig's Knuckle Served with Sauerkraut and Home Fries

Boiled Pig's Knuckle Served with Sauerkraut and Potato Dumplings

Cafe Berlin on Urbanspoon

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