This is the first of a series of posts that I will make about my trip to Berlin over Easter. Regular visitors to this site will know that I am a Germanophile and, in particular, a Berlinerphile; so I am always glad of a trip to this beautiful city to visit my in-laws.
One of the aspects that I enjoy most about German cuisine is their breakfasts. Breakfasts in Germany are really an experience that one takes one’s time over. It really falls over into what we Brits would describe as “brunch”, it seems to start somewhere in the morning and finish somewhere in the afternoon.
Last time I was in Berlin I visited a lovely café in Prenzlauer Berg called “Sowohl Als Auch”; you can imagine my amazement then when I was doing my research for places to go for this trip I found that there was a café widely considered to be one of the best in Berlin for breakfasts diagonally opposite – Café Anna Blume. Small world! We headed there on a day where the weather couldn’t make up its mind as to if it was going to give us a warm, sunny Spring day or a cold and wet Wintry one. Every five minutes the weather seemed to lurch madly from one to the other. Berliners are hardy folk who will sit outside in cafés even in the middle of winter, so we found that there was a queue of people waiting to take an outside seat. Given some ominous looking clouds gathering above us we decided to take a seat inside, which is rather prettily decorated in an Art Deco style, with some rather fetching frescos on the wall (see left for an example). The café is attached to a Blumenladen (flower shop) and so there were some rather pretty flowers distributed around the café and the tables (like in the picture at the top of the post).
The speciality of the café is a set breakfast for two, the “Anna Blume Frühstück Etargerie”. Think a posh afternoon tea platter, but for breakfast. You get three different sorts of Brötchen (breads and bread rolls) and then you get presented with a triple-tiered platter. On the bottom you get scrambled eggs, cold cuts and cheeses. In the middle you get some antipasti – pickled mushrooms, courgettes, mozzarella balls and on the top you get fruits (melon, kiwi, mango, pineapple, grapes, etc). It all looks great, but on closer inspection it didn’t quite live up to our expectations. The first tier was good, but we could have done with a lot more; the second tier was ok, but felt quite out of place; and the third tier we found a little sad – the fruit was a bit tired and lacking in freshness and flavour.
The other problem that we found was that we had to wait quite a while (thirty minutes) for our food to arrive, due to how busy the café was. This brings me on to the main problem for this café. It is clearly charming, well located and is well loved. However, it has become a victim of its own success. It is listed in a lot of travel books as one of the better cafés to visit, which means that on an Easter weekend it gets flooded with tourists (just like us), stretching its service to the very limit – meaning that you don’t get that feeling of relaxation and calm, which is what you want from a Berlin café at brunch time. I was glad to have visited Anna Blume, but I think next time I’m in town I’ll be heading to Sowohl Als Auch again.