April 2008


Dinner at Perlin

Weinerei PerlinFriday night I met Snooker for dinner at a charming little wine bar named Perlin.

Being American, we arranged to meet extremely early at 6:30. I had picked the time under the vague impression that we could have dinner and that afterwards I would go out dancing and have a late night. Unfortunately our agreed meeting time turned out to be half an hour before the doors opened, but when I explained my predicament (“I arranged to meet a friend here!”), the staff kindly let me stay and even drink wine.

It’s a really cool concept: when you go in, you pay a 1€ deposit on a wine glass, and then you can fill that wine glass with as much wine as you can drink from the wide variety of bottles that are on the bar counter. I started out with a very nice rosé and waited for Snooker to join me. We were given a small basket of bread and some olives, and left to our own devices until they actually opened—which was, loosely speaking, 7.

After they opened, nothing changed except that a few more people came in, paid their deposits and started drinking wine. Whenever my glass was empty, I returned to the bar, examined my options and poured myself another glass.

Weinerei PerlinAround 8, the chef came by to ask us if we were interested in eating: we were. Friday’s menu started out with a sweet potato soup—which was, unfortunately, a bit on the watery side, a problem that resulted in some unfortunate staining and a quick trip to the (cool) bathroom. Despite the wateriness, it was actually quite nice—and a blunt reminder that I like sweet potatoes, but eat them all too rarely. (Strangely, I ate baked sweet potatoes for dinner Monday evening.)

When we finished our soup, the chef stopped by to ask us if we wanted his goulash once it was ready: we did. When it was ready, he brought it out to us and it was excellent. Very tender and tasty, it was accompanied with potatoes and something which was great—but I don’t know what it is called, so I can’t tell you here.

Awhile after we finished eating, the waiter stopped by to ask us if we were interested in dessert. Honestly, had the word that followed not followed, both Snooker and I would probably have declined—but it turns out that both of us are suckers for Tiramisu and we both immediately ordered it. When it arrived, it was very nice and the perfect cap to a great meal.

At some point, Snooker and I changed places because I wanted to stare at a cute Turkish guy who was sitting nearby—as Snooker observed, he was on his third date with another man. He was quite cute, and possibly interested in me, but it was hard to tell.

Suddenly we realized it was 10:30 and she wanted to get home, while I wasn’t sure what my plans were for the evening, I did want to get my valuables home before making a decision.

Normally when it’s time to go, and you’re in a restaurant, you ask the waiter for the check, but not so at Perlin. Instead you pay what you want to pay—and since we had drunk a fair amount of wine, enjoyed the bread, soup, goulash, and dessert, I left an appropriately large amount in the blue vase that is the bar’s public till.

ZionskircheDetails: Perlin, near Zionskirche, is one of three or four wine bars in the neighborhood. I learned about them in The New York Times. If you get off the M1 or M12 trams at Zionskirchestraße, you’re less than a five minute walk from the bar (or any of the ones mentioned in the article): Griebenowstraße 5, 10435 Berlin; at Wollinerstraße. +49 30 40 69 09 51.

3 comments to Dinner at Perlin

  • Very nice rundown Adam, kudos to you for a great review.

    We’ll have to do the UnSichtBar when you come back!! I like the idea of someone needing to tell me that my carrots are at 2 o’clock…

  • disenchanted

    Sounds lovely! I love the concept of paying a deposit on the wine glass and the soup sounded really cool (even if it was watery). Maybe you could make it at home and just adjust the water content?

  • @Snooker: It would be an honor to dine in the dark with you!

    @disenchanted: I might mess with making such a soup this weekend. Soup is outside my normal experience though.