I have a soft spot for German cafeteria food, having had the very good fortune of having been fed good food at school, from Kohlrouladen to Milchreis to Sauerbraten. So when Berlin Reified, ever the purveyor of interesting things to see and do around this fair city of ours, wrote about the Nordic Embassies's canteen open to the public, I simply opened my date book and picked the next day.
In blinding wind and a strange little hailstorm, we zipped over to the Diplomatenviertel. The architecture of the building is beautiful, just exactly what you'd expect: lots of blond wood, open staircases, seafoam trim and the like. A cluster of Panton lamps hung in the entry way, heralding a free exhibit on Verner Panton's design. The Embassies also boast a lovely little screening room for its Scandinavian film series every other week.
We climbed up to the second floor, where the canteen is open to the public after 1:00 pm. Each day the cafeteria serves a fish dish, a meat dish and a vegetarian dish. It also offers a salad bar and a hot soup. The prices hover around 5 euros for a main course.
Max had the fish cakes and Salzkartoffeln that came napped with a mushroom cream sauce. The fish cakes were light and herb-flecked, with just the right amount of fish flavor, if you know what I mean. Sometimes fish cakes can be oily bombs, but these were very nice.
I had a big mound of mashed potatoes and a ladleful of venison ragout sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. It was very filling - I could barely finish my plate. The food is clearly all made right in the kitchen behind the cafeteria, and the ingredients seem fresh and well-chosen. This is cafeteria dining at its best.
Nicest of all is eavesdropping on all the diners around you - they come from all the embassies near the Nordic one in search of lunch and so, as you eat your stew or your fish cakes or your carrot soup with little chunks of Kassler floating about in the savory broth, you hear the Mexicans at the table behind you and the Italians at the one next to you and it's all very convivial and jolly and warm. It almost feels like you've been let in on a little secret.
Canteen on 2nd floor