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.


  1. Ooo, I like the idea of adding a meringue topping to a cake - have only ever had that on lemon/lime meringue pie, but looks good on a sponge base too.

    1. It's really good - I'm sure you won't be disappointed if you give it a try. German sponge cakes tend to be quite dense rather than light and fluffy (in the way a Victoria Sponge, say, would be) so the combo works really well.

  2. This is my favorite Rhubarb cake in the world! My mother makes the best rhubarb baiser cake ever, but i rarely get to visit her when rhubarb is in season! I can't wait to get back to Berlin though and then I'll def head to Butter to try their Rhubarb Baiser cake!

    1. Hi J. The combination of the heavy sponge (that doesn't sound good but I love it), the sharp rhubarb and the light sweet topping - wow. Looks like a lot of work to make though... I can really recommend Butter. I love the way Berlin has great cakes in all sorts of places. Dangerous though!