Ha! Sorry you had to read that.

Surrounded by ceramic bric-a-brac & Kirchner imitations, served by a goofy-as-hell but sweet-as-pie Aryan youth straight out of Goebbels’ wet dreams, sipping from a great big goblet of Riesling while my friend MO (whom you last met at Big Mess Bar-B-Q) worked her way around a beer sampler that was more like a beer hose-it-down-her-throater,


Warsteiner Pils, Paulaner Oktoberfest, Paulaner Munich Lager, Paulaner Hefewiezen, Paulaner Dopplebock, in some order or other

I was sufficiently charmed by Cafe Berlin to hope the indifferent bread basket, lined with a napkin that was trimmed with more crust than the factory-sliced bread it contained & accompanied by ice-cold foil-wrapped butter pats, was a fluke.

It wasn’t.

While my throwback garden salad was palatable enough thanks to a zesty if oddly orange & not especially mustardy mustard vinaigrette, MO’s gurkensalat wasn’t even close, suffocating almost audibly under a deluge of sour cream no less plain for being dilled.




the Great Molasses Flood of 1919, in which nearly 2 dozen people drowned after a rum-distillery tank burst near Boston Harbor, just like those poor floppy cuke disks

Lo, though, a ray of hope shone briefly but brightly in the form of this wurstteller,


combining coins of 3 types of bratwurst—all rich & tender, especially the palest variety—with vinaigrette-slicked tomato wedges over warm, deeply caramelized sauerkraut.

Then came the cloud that was my rouladen, obscuring all in the darkness of sloppy execution.


Even creamed, the beef was dry & tough. The bacon & sauteed onions supposedly wrapped thereup were scant if that; only the presence of the dill spear—yes, the beef is stuffed with an intact pickle—was obvious, not to say vaguely obscene. The dumplings were nothing but gummy. The pickled red cabbage was just fine, as was the bewilderingly incongruous salad of papaya, green apple & grapes, but I didn’t come to a German joint to get my RDA of fruits & veggies, dammit, I came for frischfleisch.

MO fared better with jagerschnitzel—the cutlet fairly tender & breaded gently enough, the mushroom-cream sauce a bit gloppy but plenty mushroom-creamy. Fried potatoes were no better or worse than they would be at your average truck stop. The spaetzle, however, was a shame, clearly storebought. Like gnocchi, spaetzle’s just got to be homemade; its virtues—a sweet lumpy shape & a doughy bite—are such that it’s pointless otherwise.


& so, I fear, would be another evening at Cafe Berlin, where even complimentary parting shots of apple schnapps, lovely though they were, couldn’t quite dull the bitter taste of disappointment. (Though someday, when it’s finally dissolved, I may take my chances with the lunch menu, as I also fear, deeply, that I’m a sucker for currywurst.)

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