â€ś Address: Alte Potsdamer StraĂźe 1 / 10785 Berlin / Germany â€ž
What a dilemma: over one hundred beers and only one lunch-time to drink them in.
The 'Haus der 100 Biere' just off Berlin's Potsdamer Platz is actually a restaurant but it appears to promote the many beers stocked there ahead of the food it serves. We had seen this restaurant on the first day of our stay in Berlin and been quite excited by the idea of there being so much choice, and especially because there were some exotic beers we'd never tried before and others that we'd tried during our various travels and would have liked to drink again; however, we had decided not to rush in because we preferred instead to try some of the local microbreweries.
On our last day, however, we were sticking close to the Potsdamer Platz because we needed to leave for the airport in the middle of the afternoon and had left our bags in the lockers at the Potsdamer Platz station. We wanted to eat a decent lunch because we wouldn't be getting back to the UK until late and didn't have long enough in Brussels airport to grab something between flights. The 'Haus der 100 Biere' seemed like an obvious choice. We had so far managed not to have a typically German meal and this would allow us to leave Berlin without feeling bad about that.
We arrived around 12 noon, earlier than I'd normally want to eat but as it turned out we did the right thing by going at that time. Just as we were closing our menus, a large group of Japanese tourists came in with their tour guide and proceeded to monopolise the staff. This is a large modern restaurant but the space was arranged in such a way that made it more intimate with large plants breaking up the space and creating small clusters of tables. The section where the large tour group was seated was quite regimented with long tables running parallel to each other, no doubt for the convenience of the staff. A corridor leads from the street into the main dining area and doors at each end kept the warmth in and the cold out. If you keep walking through the dining area and past the bar, there is a conservatory type lounge area with smaller tables, much more suitable for those just going in for a drink.
An English menu was offered but we managed fine with the German one. I would suggest that if you only have very limited German you make use of the English menu as some of the dishes are referred to by name and not given a description - presumably they feel that the dishes are so well known that they needn't explain them. This is a very meat-heavy menu and while vegetarians will not go hungry, neither will they be excited by the choices available. Himself chose the 'Berliner Eisbein' (Euro14.90) - a boiled pickled ham hock served with pease pudding, sauerkraut and parsley potatoes. I always like a schnitzel and ordered one with a mushroom sauce (also Euro14.90) (a Jager- or Hunters' Schnitzel); it was served with sauteed potatoes that had been cooked with little salty pieces of bacon.
Both portions were large, the kind of large that has you feeling partly defeated as soon as the plate is put in front of you, but a morning walking in the nearby Tiergarten combined with icy cold weather had summoned quite a hunger. My pork schnitzel was excellent; the meat was cooked perfectly and the sauce was delicious, well seasoned with plenty of flavour though it was so rich and creamy I couldn't eat all of it. The potatoes were very tasty, with crispy edges but soft insides; a smaller portion on a plate with less meat would have been better for me because the combination of salty schnitzel sauce and salty bacon on the potatoes soon became too much. My plate was described as coming with a side salad and this would have been much appreciated but what came was little more than a garnish on the side of the plate.
Sometimes it's hard to believe that only a couple of years ago Himself was a vegetarian. An Eisbein is a dish that can fill even the most confirmed of carnivores with a sense of dread: to me it looks like an invitation to fight laid out on a plate and for that reason it's not a dish I'd ever order for myself. It was a hefty piece of pork, and just as it should, it had a thick layer of fat around the outside. While this wouldn't have been something I'd have wanted to persevere with myself, I was quite happy to let Himself do the hard work and get to the meat inside, finding me a tasty piece to try. It was delicious but too salty for me and the sort of thing I'd only want a very small amount of. The pease pudding was very good, full of flavour and exactly how a homemade pease pudding should be (much nicer than the mass produced stuff I buy for my sandwiches). The warm sauerkraut was also tasty but again I was glad not to be eating this dish myself because there was a lot of sauerkraut on the plate and I would have preferred something more palate cleansing like simple fresh vegetables.
The beer list does include one hundred bottled beers. The country of origin, alcohol content, size and price are listed along with a picture of the bottle which is great for beer enthusiasts as it's very often that you remember what the bottle looked like and not the name. There are well known beers such as Cobra, San Miguel and Guinness but there are a lot of locally made beers and a large number of Belgian beers that you might not have seen before.Some countries just have one beer (Namibia, Ghana, Japan, Sri Lanka) while others have several representatives. There's a good mix between dark beers and porters, and lighter beers such as lagers and blonds.
Carefully avoiding the ominously named French beer Belzebuth with it's 13 per cent alcohol content, Himself ordered a safer Berliner Burgerbrau (50cl, Euro4.40), a light beer wth a 5 per cent content and I asked for a Floris Passion, a fruity Belgian beer flavoured with pomegranate and with a modest 3.6 per cent alcohol (30cl, Euro3.80). We were happy with both beers in terms of taste and temperature. We were also impressed that both choices were available as we wondered whether they would be able to always have those hundred beers available.
As well as all the bottles there are plenty of draught beers such as Berliner Kindl, Bitburger and the wheatbeer Weihenstephan. They also offer all the variations of Berliner Weisse in which perfectly good wheatbeer is adulterated with fruity syrups (I say that only with mock disdain as some of the variations are quite palatable). Wines and spirits and a full range of soft hot and cold drinks are also available and the menu for those is as comprehensive and varied as for the beers; they don't do things by halves here.
The 'Haus Der 100 Biere' is a bit of a novelty really. The food was decent but even for Berlin over-priced and it wouldn't be too critical to describe the place as a tourist trap. Even for local beers you will pay a premium so unless you are really interested in trying one of the more unusual beers, I'd suggest giving this place a miss.
In terms of speed and friendliness of service Mommseneck, as it is more correctly known, does well. It's a clean and comfortable restaurant with a bit of character in spite of being large and modern. We left neither disappointed nor really pleased. We were, however, absolutely stuffed and feeling like we'd not eat again within a week. One for carnivores and beer lovers only.
'Haus der 100 Biere', Mommseneck am Potsdamer Platz
Alte Potsdamer Strasse