After spending a chilly, grey morning at a farm on the outskirts of Berlin with butcher Simon Ellery, I’d worked up a bit of an appetite. We headed back into Berlin proper, to Friedrichshain, for lunch at the Michelberger Hotel.
The Michelberger’s restaurant, which has its own separate entrance and doesn’t feel like part of the hotel at all, is very lovely indeed. It’s friendly and relaxed, and aesthetically-speaking, ticks all the Instagram boxes: it’s flooded with natural light, and bare lightbulbs dangle from the (very) high ceilings; there are cream subway tiles, and long (shared) wooden tables decorated with candles and vases of wild flowers.
Thankfully, however, the Michelberger is not style over substance. Chef Alan Micks has been cooking there since 2014, and has quite the culinary cv to his name. The lunch menu is refreshingly short, offering a selection of dishes made with organic and – as far as possible – seasonal ingredients produced in and around Berlin. There are vegan and vegetarian options, but I scanned the menu for Simon’s sausages (if they’re good enough for Anthony Bourdain), skipping over the barley risotto with beetroot, rocket and goat’s cheese, and the cod and chips, and ordered a pair of Käsekrainer.
Käsekrainer are an Austrian invention from the 1980s. The lightly smoked pork sausages are stuffed with small cubes of Emmenthal cheese, and are a very popular Austrian street food snack with a bread roll. They were served here – as is common for a sit down meal – with mashed potato, mustard, Sauerkraut and freshly grated horseradish (for 12,50€).
It’s not hard to see why Käsekrainer are so popular, both across the German border and here in Berlin: they have a very pleasing bite, a lovely porky flavour and, well, who was I to ever doubt that putting cheese into a sausage was a good idea. There’s not so much of it that it’s overwhelming, but the mildly-flavoured melted cheese adds a lovely variation in flavour and texture. I’m sorry to admit I was a bit disappointed by the mash, which was a bit dry for my personal taste, but it was all in all a very restorative plate of food, and one I’d certainly have again.
The Michelberger offers a “lunch tray” (which, this being Berlin, actually comes on a tray); a midday menu comprising a smaller portion of a main course along with a soup and some bread, a salad and “something sweet”. At 12€, this sounds to me like a very good deal. As it was, I’d done very well on a plate of sausages, so after a round of hot drinks (mine a very good hot chocolate from the hotel bar), we were on our way, back out in the cold and off on the tram in the direction of Simon’s workshop.
Simon has a very good relationship with the Michelsberger and very kindly paid for my lunch, but all opinions are my own.
I ate in the company of…
The Sausage Man Never Sleeps
Website: Michelberger Hotel
Address: Warschauer Str. 39, 10243 Berlin
The Sausage Man will be celebrating his fourth birthday there on 1 April.