Friday, 3 August 2012

Berlin's outdoor café secrets

It's that time of year when I want to spend every waking sunshiny minute outside. Summer evenings are a doll here in Berlin - there's oodles of stuff to do, from open air cinema's at every corner to free Shakespeare in the park, from barbecues on the Tempelhofer Feld to buying beers at the Späti and drinking them standing on the Hobrechtbrücke. (No, I'm not sure why you'd do the latter either, unless you're a homeless person or a twelve-year-old who won't be served at a normal bar. But there they are, whole hordes of twenty-somethings who think Kreuzberg is the epitome of cool, planted firmly on the bridge to stay, so perhaps it's something that needs trying. Or maybe I'm just getting old.)

But during daylight hours, life is more complicated for those spending the summer in the city. It's too hot, really, to be out in the sun unless you want to end up burnt to a crisp.  So I've been going around my Kiez, looking for places enjoy a bit of dappled sunlight without the meltdown. These are my favourites, in no particular order.

Golgatha, Victoriapark, Katzbachstraße, Kreuzberg: hidden away in Victoria Park, neighbouring the playground and the sports field is beer garden Golgotha. You'd never guess it's there, yet the café's garden is big and lush. There are beach chairs, rocking benches of the type that belong on a southern American porch, lounge sofas and your average wooden picnic benches to sit on. The shade is plentiful, so is the drink and a grill stand will serve you bratwurst sandwiches and potato salad once you've realised you really don't need to be anywhere else.

3 Schwestern, Bethanienhaus, Mariannenplatz, Kreuzberg: Through the restaurant you go, and down a few steps out again. There you will discover the perfect garden for afternoon tea. High treetops to sit under, amazing cakes and table service; Berlin life doesn't get much better than this.

Hüttenpalast, Hobrechtstraße, Kreuzkölln: I've waxed lyrical about the place before, and if their fabulous food is not enough, you'll find their garden is another reason to check the place out. It's very cosy and very quiet here, so perfect for some outdoor working just off the bustling Hermannplatz.

Lavanderia Vecchia, Flughafenstraße, Neukölln: Looking for an al fresco lunch? At Lavanderia Vecchia a three course lunch is served for as little as €8, while you sit under flapping tea towels drying in the wind (a reference to the fact that this used to be the site of a laundry). There's loads of space, the atmosphere is überrelaxt and you'll have a hard time not ending up chatting to the neighbours living in the Hof, as they all drop in to eat the fabulous lunch fare being served on their doorstep.

Hudson's Cakes, Boppstraße, Graefekiez: Not really a garden, merely a cute selection of seats under the trees on the pavement. Yet, to me, the outdoor seating at the wonderful Hudson's distinguishes itself from the numerous others in the city, and not just because owners Katie and Jim are the loveliest people, their food is a joy and their local vegetable scheme admirable. This is also THE place in town to eat tea and scones, with proper Devonshire clotted cream. So there.

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