Update: Palsta sadly closed in April 2020.
Oderstraße should righteously be renamed the riviera of Neukölln. The street constitutes the western border of Tempelhofer Feld and beyond it you have nothing but the vast emptiness of the decommissioned airport-turned-park. At night, this void space creates the illusion of an ocean (hence the Oderstraße riviera), and while the sound of waves breaking on the beach may forever be absent, with the opening of the Nordic wine bistro “Palsta”, the street can now at least boast of having one of Berlin’s best seafood restaurants.
“..while the sound of waves breaking on the beach may forever be absent, with the opening of the Nordic wine bistro “Palsta”, the street can now at least boast of having one of Berlin’s best seafood restaurants.”
Since it’s opening in August 2018, “Palsta” quickly made a strong claim to fame to be in named in the league of Berlin’s finest casual dining bistros (hello St. Bart, Michelberger, JaJa, Wagner & co). Not because of serious investments in PR or because the restaurant belongs to a big group – word just quickly spread that couple of Scandinavians were serious about opening a good restaurant. The team behind the scenes was promising: Filip Sondergaard, the Danish ex-Sous Chef of the legendary (and now closed) restaurant Dóttir and Viivi Haussila-Seppo, owner and seasoned people-charmer from Finland.
“word just quickly spread that couple of Scandinavians were serious about opening a good restaurant”
Together they assembled an international team that oozes irresistible charm. “Palsta” is Finnish for garden plot and heartfelt ambitions to not wow the guest with fanciness. Guests that pass the wooden doors of “Palsta” are greated by a shelf of wine (“Palsta” also sells bottles to take home), grey stone walls, light wooden floors and small oak tables set across two rooms that stretch into the open kitchen in the back where you’ll find Filip Sondergaard. The fact that Haussila-Seppo found a chef for her project that actually lives in a garden lot in Wedding (“Schrebergarten”) was a pure coincidence that says everything about the good karma of this project. Fittingly, the crops of Sondergaard’s garden (mostly tomatoes in year one) regularly end up on the menu at “Palsta”
“Together they assembled an international team that oozes irresistible charm”
Chef Sondergaard knows his Nordic flavours; his initial signature creation of Atlantic shrimp tartare on toasted rye bread with black pepper mayo was a dish that quickly spread around Berlin’s Instagram feeds. It showed the vision for this kitchen: A menu primarily based on Atlantic cold water seafood with inspiration drawn from the whole Scandinavian continent. The starters are his strongest game, like the before mentioned shrimp tartar or his unbelievably good grilled scallops on baby kale, trout roe, fried buckwheat and boiled egg mayo. Same goes for the smoked salmon with cucumber, mustard seed and sour cream or his pumpkin croquettes with a pumpkin seed oil aioli – Sondergaard loves to combine seafood with fat and acidity and then supercharge it with light emulsions. Main courses usually include a piece of pristine cod with pan fried vegetables and browned butter and there will of course be some pork on the menu along with side dishes of potatoes with dill or lovage and bowls of vegetable pickles – all in the line of Nordic eating traditions. This onslaught of Scandinavian beauty from the kitchen is handled excellently by Haussila-Seppo and her team and the wine selection fits the requirements of the low-intervention nerd: Cloudy, funky and unfiltered gems from all across Europe.
“This onslaught of Scandinavian beauty from the kitchen is handled excellently by Haussila-Seppo and her team and the wine selection fits the requirements of the low-intervention natural wine nerd”
As a Scandinavian, moving to Berlin always meant forsaking any ambitions of direct access to your culinary traditions. Regardless if you were Swedish, Norwegian, Danish or even Finnish, from the moment you entered city limits you better made your piece with the total lack of seafood in the quality you’re used to as well as Nordic ingredients and food. All attempts to fill this market gap in the last 20 years have proven to be futile (“Alter Schwede” in Charlottenburg, “Munch’s Hus” in Schöneberg etc.). It will however only take minutes for any Scandinavian to feel right at home at “Palsta”. This restaurant fills a gap in the food offering of Berlin that was way overdue, but it’s a revelation to see how charming and heartwarmingly delicious this long-awaited arrival of the North is. And thus, it is with my greatest pleasure, that I hereby officially proclaim the Scandinavian food drought of Berlin to be over. Long live the North.