December 02, 2010

When Burgers Met Australian Backpackers

The Bird - American Steakhouse and Bar

Lately I’ve been having these strange dreams about sitting in a diner, being served by a large waitress, let’s call her Maybelline. She’s one of these feisty women you only get in dreams about diners somewhere in Alabama. Her obesity is somehow contained by a radioactive pink uniform. She wiggles and wobbles her way to my table and asks me whether I would like to have my usual. I nod, she winks and a couple of minutes later a plate miraculously appears in front of me. It’s bestowed with a huge burger and even bigger chips and it’s all greasy and delicious and makes me want to start moaning like Meg Ryan did in When Harry Met Sally, just that this time for real. And then I wake up.

I get these burger cravings every now and then. I think everyone does. It’s as normal as being grumpy in the morning. Nowadays it also seems like you can get burgers just about anywhere in Berlin. But sometimes I do miss that overwhelming feeling of too much grease in your food, which you can only get in the great US of A. I was told the Bird in Prenzlauer Berg would be as close as it gets to Maybelline and that diner.

Even though it was still fairly early, the place was packed. Yet as I walked into the room, I could not help feeling I was being punished for a perversely forbidden fantasy. The place felt like Australian-backpacking paradise, or just my own definition of pure hell. Everyone there was a young tourist looking for cheap alcohol, naff music and all the bad taste they can get back home in abundance. The fact that not a single one of the staff people seemed to feel the need to communicate in German just validated my impression. I was in tourist hell.

I was shown to a table at the far end of the room and waited for my partner in crime to join me for what I feared would be a traumatising experience. In the meantime I was able to scrutinise the menu and to gladly realise it was mostly about burgers and steaks (with another small section of other random unspectacular American extravaganza like chicken wings and club sandwich). At the end we decided to order one burger each, as the steaks were – though tempting – out of our price range. All burgers sounded good and I quickly forgot about the bad music and the Australians at the bar playing with that scary beer jug that smelled of vomit.

Breakfast Burger
Da Birdhouse

As our Irish waitress came to the rescue, I had to acknowledge the fact that being in a place full of ex-pats and tourists was not entirely bad. It meant the service had to be as good as back home and I suddenly realised how long it had been since I had last met a waiter as nice or as helpful as the ones in Britain. She was splendid and sweet and helped us choose one Da Birdhouse Burger (the house burger with two patties, American cheese, bacon, fried onion and the rest of burger joy, medium 11.50 €) and another breakfast burger with extra cheddar (bacon and egg, medium rare, 11.50 €). They were both large and came accompanied by a pleasing pile of greasy and tasty chips. The house burger was very good. The patties were delicious and it was thoroughly satisfying. However, the breakfast burger was just astoundingly marvellous. It was stuff fake orgasms are made of. The meat was thick and juicy. The egg was perfectly soft and the bacon was just bacon. The only source of disappointment came from the buns: they were far from perfect, small and tasteless. We then ended the meal by sharing a perfectly delicious New York cheese cake (the only dessert on the menu, unfortunately, 3.00 €). Together with one beer each, we ended up paying 16.50 € per person, which is not the cheapest price on the local market for just a burger and half a cake, but it was definitely worth it.

A sneak peek into the kitchen

The Bird’s burger experience was great fun at the end of the day. The food was delicious – a clear four print level - while the service was brilliant and therefore worth whole five prints. The only problem was that I still need a therapy session for that overall Australian backpacker feeling, which would normally earn the place somewhere between one or two prints. I therefore had to compromise on a solid three. But then again, don’t let these mean backpackers scare you off if you ever feel these inner calls for burgers. Just go to the Bird and don’t let the atmosphere sink in.

Oh, and one last remark: what’s with the no card policy? If there’s one thing I miss about daily life just about anywhere else outside the Federal Republic of Germany, it’s the fact one can always pay with a card and can avoid carrying copious amounts of cash around. Not accepting credit cards in Berlin is not cool and anti-establishment; it’s just Teutonically boring and annoying.

Overall mark: 
The Bird - American Steakhouse and Bar
Am Falkplatz 5, 10435 Berlin

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1 comment:

  1. The no cards policy is definetelly rooted in the fact that card payments appear on your balance sheet and get taxed. How would you pay your illicitly working personal, if you would not have all this nice cash.
    A friend of mine told me once: after he went bankrupt with his business, I ll have to move to Berlin, in the gastronomy there everybody works illicitly cash!! HAHA