I’ve wanted to check out Café Berlin for a while. Don’t think it’s ever made any sort Best of DC lists ever, but it gets marks from some bloggers as a decent option for German cuisine in DC. And it’s one of the more intriguing and local options in the Entertainment Book that I keep getting every year. Buy one meal, get one free.
The meal confirmed a lesson I should know by know; if you’re giving out buy-one-get-ones in the Entertainment Book, you’re probably a terrible restaurant. This is especially true in the District. Out of the way places need help getting the word out. In the big city, if you’re good, people will come. The good, the bad, and the embarrassed feeling you get whipping out a discount card to get a free meal are worthy of a separate post or three. So I’ll devote the rest of this entry to panning a lousy restaurant.
Bread was a bastard cousin of a loaf of French bread—the kind that’s rubbery, dry, and characteristic of a cheap deli or a lousy German restaurant. You couldn’t see any meat on my plate of sauerbraten; four razor thin strips of tasteless beef drowned in the sweet, red sauce. Served luke-warm, parts of the sauce became gelatinous before the meal ended. Topped off with a gloppy, discolored, reheated potato dumpling was the cherry on top of a failed rendition of this German classic. Nothing like the version or pictures described here. Where's my parsley and carrot stick garnish?! The from-a-can red cabbage served on the side was not at all surprising.
Mom fared a bit better with her jagerschnitzel. The moist cutlet of pork was generous, though not particularly flavorful. The spaetzle and side salad the dish was served with were worthy of Deutschland’s most lackluster cafeteria.
The waiter was well versed in serving up diner pet peeves. The fact that I was hungry certainly didn’t indicate I enjoyed what I was eating, but I cleared my plate. “It looks like we had fun,” he bussed our dishes. It was a slap in the face, considering I thought it was one of the worst meals out I’ve had in some time. No way I was going to order another bite there, but with my Mom’s blessing, he brought over the dessert tray. A flat blueberry tart, a gooey marshmallow fluff cake. Gross! Nothing looked at all appealing and when I said I didn’t want anything, what was his reply? “Oh, that’s too bad.” Are you kidding me? You’re gonna judge what I do and don’t choose to order? If I need another bite of cafeteria food, I’ll grab a scoop of Jell-O at the salad bar at lunch tomorrow.
322 Massachussettes Avenue, NE