The greatest, culinary unicorns of Berlin are classic, German restaurants that cook with high quality ingredients. One of them is the artisanal butcher shop Kumpel & Keule, a contemporary take on a German “Metzger” (butcher) that opened its doors in the Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg in 2016. Operated by a brigade of young and tattooed butchers, Kumpel & Keule has been a more-than-welcome addition to the German food offering of Berlin, quickly establishing a reputation of beautiful, handmade sausages, charcuterie and dry-aged steaks that’s echoed across city districts.
“The good vibes and down-to-earth approach to quality meat culture translated directly into this small eatery”
In 2018, this butcher crew, supported by meat and food culture activist Hendrik Haase aka Wurstsack, opened a new outlet for their gastronomic ambitions (they have a grill at the shop and will, upon request, chuck anything from the display on it): The Kumpel & Keule Speisewirtschaft, a small restaurant, located merely 500 meters down the street from the shop and the market hall. The good vibes and down-to-earth approach to quality meat culture, something customers had learned to love over at the shop, translated directly into this small eatery where communal tables with wooden benches, draped in fluffy sheep skins (of course sustainable) invite guests to hang out.
“…a dish that’s miles away from the deep fried abyss of a sausage that’s served to thousands of ignorant tourists around Berlin every day.”
The Speisewirtschaft is all about great German food and drinks, both for very classical and honest cooking as well as contemporary takes on German food. Lunch is always more casual than dinner, offering items like a Currywurst, the unfortunate, culinary landmark of Berlin, where a lamb or horse sausage is served alongside a fantastic apricot ketchup – a dish that’s miles away from the deep fried abyss of a sausage that’s served to thousands of ignorant tourists around Berlin every day. Now you know.
Great versions of touristy food seem to be a thing at the Speisewirtschaft: The same can be said about the Northern German classic “Grünkohl mit Pinkel” (braised kale with pork sausage). A seasonal dish, usually only available on German Christmas markets, where massive pots of overcooked kale are simmering for hours with cheap sausages, a vile and heartless concoction best avoided. Kumpel & Keule showed me how this dish should taste, divine lightly stewed kale with with a fresh grainy pork sausage and best consumed with an ice-cold glass of the custom brewed Kumpel&Keule Heidenpeter beer.
“The ending of the meal, a desert with rhubarb, woodruff and vanilla ie cream looks. like something from a Tim Raue menu”
If this sounds too classic for you, you can always resort to the (righteously) celebrated Kumpel & Keule burger, both in its original version as well as in a funked up gourmet version with Wagyu beef from German, grass-fed cows. Dinner is packed with higher ambitions as fine plates of veal sweetbreads and beef tartar are served alongside dishes like the “Doppelte Sauerei”, cheeks of Schwäbisch-Hällisches Landwein, braised root vegetables and lettuce hearts. The no-brainer alternative is their their steak menu, for example grilled a porter house with fries or an fine onglet with asparagus . The ending of the meal, an elaborate dessert of rhubarb, woodruff and vanilla ie cream looks like something from a Tim Raue menu, elaborately plated with countless elements – a testament to the constantly growing ambition level at the Speisewirtschaft.
“Thus is a splendid example of the next generation German restaurant.”
It’s not easy to find German chefs in Berlin that cook classic German well, because where there is talent, there is usually also an ambition for fine dining and elimination for anything German. Chefs are just not that proud of the food of their grandmothers. This is partially also true at the Kumpel & Keule Speisewirtschaft, where fine dinging desserts are served alongside burgers and steaks; all foods you of course won’t find in your old school German cookbook. In the end, this does however show how the next German generation eats and what quintessentially German in the 20th century is. Don’t worry: There is great food for any meat eater on this menu (vegetarians might wanna go somewhere else) and I highly recommend Kumpel & Keule Speisewirtschaft as a splendid example of a next generation German restaurant.