We have a corner wine bar in Berlin. It has a name on a little sign outside, but I don’t know what it is because the moniker “boho wine bar” has stuck in my household. It is as much a coffee shop as a wine bar, but we drink wine there more than coffee, usually Sylvaner or Riesling. It also sells soup, which you serve yourself from two urns that are either opposite the bar or on the enormous curvy dark-wood buffet in the back room. Next to the cash register — a porcelain bowl filled with coins pinning down a stack of bills — there is a plate of sandwiches on little round rolls and sesame-seed sprinkled croissants. An enormous cherry clafoutis reliably spills out over a piece of parchment next to the sandwiches. So far nothing I’ve tried has cost more than €2.50.
Whether your glass of wine costs €2.00 or €2.50 seems to depend on who is working, who is ordering, and how many glasses that person has ordered. The bartender/barista with the long curly locks pulled back into a ponytail who plays bad South American music, for example, is more generous with husband than me.
The interior of boho wine bar is lined with a wall of settees in alternating shades of wine-colored and seafoam green velvet, interspersed with mid-century armchairs, and lit from beneath mustard-yellow floral lampshades. In other words, it’s a study in DDR vintage. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, out she came through the swinging, graffiti-covered kitchen door. She was middle-aged, blonde, compact and wearing a shiny gold bomber jacket, black pleather mini skirt, green tights, leg warmers and faux running shoes — a Berlin-punked Sandy Duncan à la Peter Pan. She is, I can only reason, responsible for that cherry clafoutis.
Over the weekend we finally ventured a little further afield than our corner bar, into Prenzlauer Berg proper where the Kollwitzplatz farmers’ market was in full swing. It’s the kind of market where you can get a currywurst with pomme frittes and truffle mayo accompanied by a glass of pink prosecco along with your fruit and veg, and we did. It was a freezing day with a searing wintry sun in a blue sky, and as we wandered along the gentrified, cobbled streets it was hard to avoid comparisons to Paris.
At Café Anna Blum the waitress look confused when we tried to order a mimosa, then a buck’s fizz, and finally champagne and orange juice. But she obliged, serving it in two tall glasses with bendy pink straws. I believe it was there on the heated patio with café-provided red fleece lap blankets that we committed the blasphemy of saying that this was better than the Rue Cler and the Rue Vieille du Temple combined. In his predictable grass-is-always-greener way, husband then began to lament that we didn’t get an apartment in this neighborhood. In my predictable rationalizing-optimist way I emphasized we were only a ten-minute walk away. Even he couldn’t argue when I made the point that for all its yummy mummies and tapas bars, there are no DDR Peter Pans in this neighborhood.