Gendarmenmarkt, lined with imposing buildings like the French Cathedral and the Konzerthaus, may be Berlin’s most beautiful square. But just a block away, the setting looked like the rest of the central German capital: a mix of cranes, construction sites and creative parking.
Stepping in from a smaller square, the Hausvogteiplatz, I entered a pub that appeared to honor the greatest of German traditions, at least at first glance. In contrast to the modern architecture outside, the room had well-worn, old-fashioned furniture like Alpine chairs with hearts carved into the backs. A collection of cuckoo clocks quietly beat time on the walls. From large platters arose the hearty scents of bockwurst, while the in-house bakery sent out the doughy scent of freshly baked schrippen, Berlin’s crunchy-crusted bread roll.
Once I took a seat, however, the pub, called Meisterstück, began to reveal unexpected angles. I had certainly never tasted better sausages than Meisterstück’s juicy Coburger bratwurst, though I also couldn’t remember any other links that had been accompanied by a side of wasabi-spiced sauerkraut. Even more surprising were the portraits on the wall, featuring not locals, but some of the best-known faces of international craft brewing. In the back: wasn’t that a picture of Matt Brynildson, brew master at Firestone Walker in California?