a bird and a bottle

Socialism for Bobos (Bean in Berlin)
March 11, 2007, 2:23 pm
Filed under: food, guests, wider world

(Regulars might know me as SF, but today I am a guest-poster. Bean has blitzkrieged the German capital, where I am living for the year, and we are eating our way across the city. As German prison reform is decades ahead of America, it’s time to put the focus back on the food…)

The Wall has fallen, but socialism lives on. At least gastronomically.


Berlin has a great socio-economic-cum-culinary institution: the Weinerei. Literally translated as “winery,” these restaurants – which now number at least five in the Prenzlauerberg-Mitte area of the former East – offer a little taste of the Marxist paradise the German Democratic Republic (aka East Germany) was never able to realize. They are all guided by a basic principle: you pay a nominal fee (maybe one euro) to become a member and receive a glass, after which you can eat as much food and drink as much wine as you want. At the end of the evening, you pay what you think the evening was worth, often into an oversized wine glass or a hollow glass fish or something else absurd. (Their menus could be emblazoned with the motto: “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.”) The food is sometimes simple (pasta, bread, salad) sometimes impressively complex (pumpkin soup garnished with pumpkin seeds and oil, homemade ravioli, etc.) and the wine gets better with each glass after the third. The atmosphere is usually hipster homey (old furniture, flea market wine glasses, super-kitsch interior decorating: cheap prints of 19th century genre paintings or religious themes – jesus and mary being favorites).

But at the end of the day, what makes the arugula taste that much crisper and the last drops of wine that much richer is the feeling that a better life, unencumbered by monetary values, may still be possible.

(Nothing makes me wax poetic about socialism like a few bottles of Weinerei wine.)

We have a reservation for Monday night at the flagship enterprise. Stay tuned for Bean’s full review and photos…


3 Comments so far
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Thanks for the guest post, SF. Looking forward to our weinerei dinner…especially since I have been so surprised — and impressed — with the food in Berlin. German food is more than spaetzle (though that’s good too)!

Comment by bean

[…] Friday March 16th 2007, 9:59 am Filed under: wider world, frivolity, food Earlier this week, I promised a review of Berlin’s Weinerei, the establishment where you get a several course meal and all the wine you can drink, then pay […]

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