As soon as you get to Berlin, the Soviet influence over the city becomes obvious. If you don’t hear it repeatedly mentioned in some of those all-in-one tourist guides or during your museum trips, you’ll definitely going to see it under your own eyes when you walk around in East Berlin… yep, those Ostbloc buildings are still there. But, hey, if you have it, flaunt it. Russian culture is a big part of Berlin’s recent history, and there’s almost nothing that showcases just as good as Cafe Gorki Park close to Rosenthaler Platz.
Located the same street as the artisan gelateria Giorgio Lombardi and the dim-sum Yamcha Heroes (talking about multikulti), Cafe Gorki Park is a time-capsule. Once you step in, you’ll feel transported back to Mother Russia. Sure, you could argue that the establishment over identifies with aesthetic and cultural stereotypes. Cyrillic writing dimly lightning a green bar, tables with constructivist paintings and Soviet athletes, monochrome photos are all recollections of a time long gone, or a time that never was. And we’re digging all of it. Hey, is there anything better than over-the-top design coupled with a healthy dose of self-irony.
Besides its appealing decor, Cafe Gorki is also known for its food. And guess what, it’s also Russian. There’s Eastern pancakes in almost all their forms: from thin blinchiki and fluffier syrniki to savoury blinis. Their starters come both in proletariat and intelligentsia versions. There’s good ol’ ham à la russe, pickles, aubergine spread or… salmon caviar, hering-tartar and boiled egg. Your choice.
They also serve heartier dishes like vegetarian Borscht, traditional stuffed dumplings, steak Kiev and beef stroganoff. Mind you, this is not a Michelin-type restaurant. Their dishes are simple and not pretentious, trying to bring a bit of Russian cuisine to Berlin while still adapting to what’s locally expected.
With its exoticized decor and tongue-in-cheek aesthetics, Cafe Gorki is worth a visit during your next stay in Berlin. If not for the whole food menu, at least for a vodka shot and a pickle.