I'm compiling a list of my favorite places to eat Currywurst, so we spent yesterday on a Currywurst tour - from Warschauer Brücke to Wittenbergplatz. I kept note in my Moleskine about the different ketchups, atmospheres, Brötchen, and - of course - Würste themselves and we did our very best to not come home with acute indigestion.
Mission: Successful! (Though Currywurst #2 almost did us in.)
This will be an ongoing feature here - just be patient, since I'm not sure we can survive a Currywurst excursion more than once every few months, seeing as we'd like to grow old with our original arteries and all.
First up: the Biers 195 stand under the Friedrichstrasse S-Bahn, an offshoot of the one on the Ku'Damm. This was Max's favorite. The sausage was pretty much perfection: freshly fried, with a wonderful crunch when you bit into it, and great flavor. (My motto is to always order mit Darm (the casing). The lady who served us also explained that Currywurst mit Darm means the sausage has been smoked, while the ohne Darms haven't. News to me.) But, and this is a big but because I am a ketchup freak and would eat it by the spoonful if I could, the ketchup was a little too sweet and floral, mixed with a sort of black peppercorn-y fragrance. It's what kept me from giving this place an A+. The place itself is as nice and cozy as a sausage stand gets. It's heated, a big plus in my book, and the people who work there are sweet. The roll, a pretty standard-issue Currywurst Brötchen, was warm and fresh. We left hungry for more.
Currywurst #2: Sometimes in life, you must indeed judge a book by its cover. Or a Currywurst by its appearance. Or...whatever. This one was as painful to eat as it is to look at. We'd read somewhere that to try a real "Ost" Currywurst, we should go to the stand at the Warschauer Brücke. (Konnopke's is closed on Sundays, which is why we didn't go there.) Plus, the owner of the stand is a Fleischermeister, which we figured must translate into some kind of quality. Oh, ho ho ho. No.
The Currywurst, pre-fried and lying in a puddle of old, warm oil, was plopped onto a plate and unceremoniously shoved over the counter to us. I guess they get environmental points for using real plates and silverware, but the sight alone of what we were about to eat was sort of daunting. The sausage was soft, both inside and out. Not good. I liked the ketchup better than at Bier's, but the curry powder knocked over the top was harsh and didn't mesh well. Ultimately the old oil was the main problem. We left the stand feeling a little queasy. It got worse by the time we got to the next stand at Kottbusser Tor, which was mercifully closed. But then: were we going to let one nasty sausage do us and our mission in? No, we were not. A few deep breaths and a drink of water helped. On we went.
Isn't this the prettiest Currywurst you ever did see? Our third stop was Witty's on Wittenbergplatz - an all-organic snack stand. Not only are their Currywurst made with organic and sustainably-raised pigs, but they'll serve malt vinegar with their (very, very delicious) French fries, if you like (along with six other sauces). It was also considerably more expensive than the other stands (3 euros for a Wurst, no roll, but that's the price of organic for you).
The ketchup was fantastic. I - er - literally licked the little paper plate when we were done (told you I had an unhealthy relationship with ketchup). It was vinegary and sharp and wonderful. But the sausage was a little lacking - it was too soft and didn't have enough snap. Keep in mind, these are the quibbles of two Currywurst nuts. Witty's Currywurst is a very good specimen, indeed. In fact, I'd list it in the top five of my favorite stands in Berlin. And the fact that it's organic (in my mind) goes a long way.
Diagonally across from Witty's is Fritz & Co, run by the same folks, and one of my very favorite Currywurst stands over the years. Their sausages are made with Neuland meat, meaning it's not organic, but was raised sustainably, with an eye towards animal welfare (artgerechte Tierhaltung). Here, the details really make the difference. First of all, their ketchup is served hot, which I sort of love, especially if it's a day with driving wind and rain (exactly the kind of day made for Currywurst-eating, really). Second of all, the rolls they serve are crusty and crunchy and deeply delicious. Almost baguette-like? Really wonderful. The sausage was freshly fried and piping hot, but it had a milky aftertaste that neither of us could place. It wasn't unpleasant, just a little distracting. We didn't have much trouble finishing this Wurst - and wiped the little plate clean when we were done.
We wondered if we could handle trying one more stand. Against our better judgment and a strange feeling in our guts, we headed over to Maximilian's at Stuttgarter Platz, though by the time we got there I was feeling distinctly that the last possible thing I could do at that moment was eat another Currywurst. Luckily, the stand was closed. We headed home, recovered and ate salad for dinner.
The verdict? Max's clear favorite was Biers 195. I was torn between that one (for the sausage and the warmly heated stand) and Fritz & Co for the ketchup and crusty roll.
Next time: Steglitz, Wedding and beyond!
Witty's and Fritz & Co
Tel: (030) 211 9494
Imbiss S-Bahnhof Warschauer Brücke