September 30, 2011

JWD deliciousness in Treptow

Treptower Klause - Treptow

Where would you start if you wanted to provide a list of the best YouTube phenomena? Well, there is Rebecca Black’s worst song ever, Southpark’s In the Butt (a worthy classic if there ever was one despite the fact it’s about YouTube stardom rather than actually being one), the undoubtedly magnificent Leave Britney Alone and that’s just the absolute tip of the iceberg. Same as reality TV, YouTube has enabled the creation of yet another category of stardom, which is basically all about people whose exhibitionist streak is just enough to get other people excited on their tiny screens for about half a minute of their precious time. Germans call this sort of excitement fremdschämen – to feel embarrassed for someone else. Getting people to fremdschämen for you seems to be a perfectly reliable shortcut to stardom.

And speaking of YouTube stardom, embarrassment and me explaining new German words for you: Do you remember Marina Orlova? You know, the Russian tarty looking blonde who teaches Russian words in short artsy films (one word per film, that is). The art is – of course – all in the eye of the beholder and consists mostly of the validation of any Western stereotype about how well tarty Russians pat their lips and bat their eyelashes between nauseating attacks of giggles. Needless to say, she’s my idol.

For a long time now, I have been considering imitating Marina Orlova, just with German. I would be making videos of my tarty self explaining random German words to the great YouTube community (without being German myself, but then again, nobody’s perfect). There will be important words like Ohrwurm, Zeitgeist or Fremdschämen, but I think my debut video will have to be something local. I’ll have to start with a Berlin word. Like the entire Berlin dialect, it will have to be rude, displeasing and not entirely devoid of self-irony. And I have the perfect word in store: JWD.

JWD (pronounced yot-veh-deh) is an expression, in itself the initials of “janz weit draußen”, Berlin dialect for “ganz weit draußen”, which is German for “bleeding far away”. If you took the expression at face value, it would have to relate to the unattainable outskirts of Berlin (and as Berlin occupies a massive chunk of land, they are far, FAR away). But then again, most people use it just to describe the district adjacent to their own, as most Berliners need a pistol pointed at their heads in order to even consider travelling out of their “Kiez” (another Berlin word, which would vaguely translate into “hood”).

I’ll put my cards on the table and admit I also find it difficult to venture too far out of my comfort zone. Which was one of the reasons I was very proud of myself for going to Treptow for the sake of this entry. Treptow is what I have considered for a long time as true JWD, despite the fact it’s the next district to both Kreuzberg and Neukölln. Maybe it’s due to the fact that the area just seems to be synonymous with its massive park, which (with all my love for green spaces) is not what pops into your mind when catering to bustling urban communities.

Which is why I am glad to (partially) make amends for my mistake. I have heard rumours of Karl Kunger Straße becoming a new epicentre of something, but have been to lazy to actually go and check things out for myself. Which is a pity, because it is a fairly pleasing street altogether with a sense of unpretentious, down to earth Berlin vibe (or whatever that means. I start to sound like a walking Lonely Planet). This week, however, two friends of mine dragged me to Treptower Klause, which from the outside looks like a filthy Eckkneipe (another German word! We’re full of those today. It just means a neighbourhood pub, but a foul one of that), albeit with a handwritten menu that reeked of posh.

The latter impression was confirmed inside. It was one of these heavily wooden spaces with dim lights and minimalist furniture, all done in perfect taste with attention given to just about every detail. This is usually the moment where Berlin offers the possibility to chime in with an objection about the low quality of service. But the Treptower Klause was kind enough to spare us that. Even the service was friendly, accommodating and professional.

The menu (of the changing variety) offers a limited choice of dishes that do not seem to have too much in common other than sounding vaguely nice (the main courses were mostly local, whereas the starters were from all over the European scale. I was grateful for not spotting anything based on curry powder, though). The starters we went for were a dish of mussels (served in a tomato-garlic sauce, 6.50 €) and a goat cheese-bell pepper terrine (for 5.50€, served with pine nuts and a small salad). They were both good. The mussels were excellent – good quality, nice quantity, perfectly well executed (I usually think mussels are better off without tomatoes, but that’s a matter of taste, and these were quite perfect regardless), not to mention good value. The terrine was fairly pleasing, but not inspiring. It had a good texture and the goat cheese made for a refreshing dish together with the peppers, the presentation was nice as well, but here, alas, the value was less convincing. For the price it lacked a more indulging taste.

We continued with osso buco (cross-cut veal shanks, served with polenta for 14.50 €) and a filet of cod (served with potato-gratin, spinach and mustard sauce, also for 14.50 €). Again, they were both tasty and both offered perfect value. The osso buco was even very good. The meat quality was impressive, the dark sauce was as refined as much it was tasty and the polenta was the perfect choice of sides for that very sauce. The cod was also good. The fish was convincing: Well done, yet fantastically juicy. The sides were fairly pleasing as well. The only problem was the sauce – it wasn’t bad – but it was no grand success either. It was too watery and the mustard was not well incorporated – somehow it was just bitter without conveying its actual mustardy-deliciousness.

Atrocious mousse

So far - even with the minor critique - Treptower Klause would have been able to be short-listed for a five print mark if it hadn’t been for the dessert. I ordered the mousse au chocolat with a pear marinated in white wine (a miniscule portion of two minor balls of mousse served alongside a pear served for 5.00 €). After the initial size-related disappointment, I found myself relieved it had not been any larger. The pear was nicely marinated and fairly pleasing (or as pleasing as a marinated pear can be). The mousse, however, reminded me of the supermarket variety my mother used to buy in the 80’s. Unfortunately, not all childhood memories are positive. I still cannot get how on earth Treptower Klause managed to recreate the same taste without using chemicals instead of chocolate and let the end-product lurk around inside a plastic container for a few weeks.

But still, odd mousse or no odd mousse, go to Treptower Klause. It is a perfectly enjoyable spot with perfectly enjoyable food. Besides, going to Treptow will make you feel adventurous!

Overall Mark:

Treptower Klause
Karl Kunger Straße 69, 12435 Berlin

Größere Kartenansicht

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