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Pane al Caffe - Berlin

Sometimes, a mistake can lead you to something truly amazing, as is the case with Pane al Caffe.

It was a normal Tuesday by most measures, though a street cleaning truck had woken me up at 7am and not my normal 8am and in truth I had spent a few extra hours working till about 2am, so I was a bit cranky. My morning ritual of sitting on the couch and doing some light internet surfing; reading football scores and recipes mostly, had just begun but I needed to plug in my laptop. So I put my coffee down on the coffee table, reached over and grabbed the cable and turned back, knocking the coffee (full cup) on to the small throw carpet.

Cranky and filling the air with swears, I grab a cloth and start to rub the coffee in to the carpet as opposed to dabbing it. Thinking now, that I should soak it with soapy water, I grab a small bucket and fill it was a bit of soap and warm water and pour it on the to the carpet and begin making myself a new carpet. Soon my day begins and I start working. Forgetting of course about the coffee spot. When my wife arrives later that day, I notice the coffee spot as I get up to greet her, I place a foot cushion over top of the spot, not that she would have been mad, but I was still a bit cranky and didn't want to explain myself.

A few days pass by, and my wife goes to vacuum, moving the cushion and discovering the coffee stain. I promise to get it cleaned and look up where I can take the larger then our washer can handle carpet. While researching I noticed that there was a little Vietnamese Restaurant close by the cleaners and I had always wanted to check it out. So I ask my wife if she would be interested in going and we could go to this restaurant. Always up for good food, we head off.

Arriving at the Vietnamese Restaurant, I immediately got a sense of that this isn't a place I want to eat. It was dirty, run down and with a dated sad looking menu, I couldn't think of any reason why I would subject myself to what was going to be clearly a terrible dinning experience.

So we continue to the washing center and as we walk by we look at the restaurant and notice that there is a nice little seating area in the back and think why not check this out. And luckily for us we did.

I can be a sucker for anything that is a shabby chic style or somehow makes me think that the owners are doing this from their heart and not just wanting to make money. And as we entered that was the exact feeling I got, a bit of shabby chic mixed with heart.

I do have to offer a small disclaimer, that while they did have vegetarian options, there are no vegan option and cheese is a heavy featured part of the menu.

Of course, I normally don't eat dairy too much, one reason is for ethical reasons and the second is for health, my mouth enjoys the cheese my body doesn't. And I paid the price for eating this much dish.

But it was so worth the pain. The food was fresh tasting, simple but loaded with flavor.

This dish seems simple enough, rocket (Arugula), fresh buffalo mozzarella, toasted bread with pesto and olive oil and fresh from their own garden tomatoes. The dish is neither cutting edge nor difficult in theory to make. But when you start with really great ingredients and don't get in the way of these wonderful ingredients the results can only be good. And this was brilliant. The dressing was a simple vinaigrette that simply add a bit of acid to the nicely peppered rocket and the tomatoes with their slightly sweet and acidic presence balanced the large chunk of mozzarella. Perfect balance loaded with clean and fresh flavors.

But for me the star was the rather simple but so amazing Spaghetti with tomato sauce.

This one dish is everything that makes up good Italian food in one place. Fresh, perfectly cooked pasta, tomato sauce that defied logic on how good it was, simply prepared with executed with precision and love.

This was one of my favorite dinning experiences in the last couple of weeks, the food was fresh and loaded with flavor, the staff was friendly and could tell they cared and it is one of those rare gems that you might pass on the street and never think of going inside.


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