Thursday, 10 April 2014
Review: Butter, Prenzlauer Berg
There was a time when Berlin was full of cafés like Butter: large, airy, bright, lots of wood and great lighting. At some point those cafés started to disappear and get replaced by trendy coffee shops and fancy restaurants. Now, it's not like I'm not a fan of those too but sometimes when I'm in Berlin I just want to go to an old-fashioned corner café that serves good coffee and great cakes.
Luckily for me there is Butter. I have been going there for years, ever since it was Eckstein and although the name has changed the vibe is very much the same. There's a typical Berlin menu that's more impressive at breakfast time than any other - although of course breakfast time lasts until 15:00... They also have a regularly changing menu that caters for veggies like me. It's also the kind of place where you can just pop in for a drink at any time, whether you fancy a coffee, a herbal tea, or something a little stronger.
Despite being a long-term customer it was only recently that I first tried their cake. Well let me tell you, I've really been missing out. On first glance the vitrine doesn't look that inspiring: a regularly changing selection of classic looking German cakes; very little chocolate on show; and only three or so to choose from. Fear not though, the quality of those cakes mean that this is a café worth seeking out when you find yourself in need of a bit of Kaffee und Kuchen.
On yesterday's visit I spied an interesting looking carrot and poppy seed cake, a cheesecake, and the one I couldn't resist, a Rhubarb Baiser. These Baiser cakes are something that are well-known in Germany but I hadn't really come across them before. Baiser refers to a soft meringue topping - sometimes quite thin and always very light. I am not usually someone who would choose a meringue pie for a dessert or for afternoon tea but I have discovered that a little layer of meringue can lend a cake a certain light moistness that I love.
This cake, which Coffee Boy also couldn't pass up, had a base of firm, but in no way dry, sponge topped with a layer of rhubarb and finished with the most delicious soft meringue which had just a whisper of a crunchy top. It was absolutely delicious: sweet without being cloying and light without being insubstantial. It's making my mouth water to remember it! We accompanied it with a latte - with caffeine for CB and without for me - which were good solid regular coffees. Not the kind of thing you're going to get in a third-wave coffee house (obviously, because they never have decaf...) but perfectly serviceable. But that cake. Seriously. It was so good.
Butter is the kind of café I want Berlin to hang on to. I notice that they also do a classic Berlin weekend brunch buffet which used to be my favourite thing in the world. Until I discovered Kaffee and Kuchen. Thank goodness they've got that base so well covered too.