Monday, November 26, 2012


Though Anaveda isn't a traditional German restaurant through and through, this kantine with a changing daily menu is one of my favorite neighborhood haunts and I think it counts enough to merit inclusion.

This little lunch spot is actually an Ayurvedic restaurant, which means that the food is based on the ancient Hindu health health system Ayurveda, in which you're supposed to eat certain foods based on your personality/body type with the aim of reaching physical and spiritual harmony. But of course, that's not the part that matters for this blog. While I'm sure the amount of German food I've been eating is doing something to my body, I'm fairly sure it's not bringing it harmony.
It might seem like there's a bit of an odd contrast between the two sections of the menu at Anaveda, but somehow it works. The first half consists of food from the Ayurvedic tradition, while the second part roughly translates to "from Mother's cooking pot."  The "mother" this refers to must be a German one, as most dishes in this section seem to be classic German fare, here executed in a clean and unfussy way.

This is the place I had my first Wiener Schnitzel. I've since learned that Wiener Schnitzel is technically Austrian, but I think for my purposes, it counts. The day this was on the menu, almost every single person in the cramped and crowded room was eating it. Anaveda attracts a rather stylish late 20s-early 30s crowd of neighborhood people, most of whom seem to be taking a break from work with a group of boisterous colleagues. On this particular day, I'm struck by the cultural difference in lunch breaks in America and here. Maybe it's because I've yet to really enter the "real world" work force, but I have trouble picturing the scene in, say, New York. The equivalent hour in New York might involve the rapid inhalation of a Nutrigrain bar in a cubicle, perhaps, on an extravagant day, a Niçoise salad from Prêt à Manger eaten standing up. I'm sure some people go out and eat a decent sit-down lunch, but I think that for most people, it's not an affair, as it seems to be here in Germany. Maybe I'm being bleak, but I don't think people in America usually use their lunch breaks to drink beer and laugh and hang out.  A huge number of restaurants in Berlin advertise what they call a "business lunch" (now that I think of it--why is it called this in English??), a daily changing menu for a certain low price. The business lunch seems to be an important defining ritual for Berlin working people, and one I'm intrigued to discover more about.  

Onto the Schnitzel--it was quite good. For anyone who doesn't know, Wiener Schnitzel is a veal cutlet pounded thin and then fried in breadcrumbs, served with a lemon wedge(not pictured, but it was there.) Even though it's fried, it's fried lightly, and doesn't feel heavy or greasy, at least not here. It goes perfectly with the traditional accompanying dill-y cucumber salad and obligatory mashed potatoes. The breadcrumbs provide a subtle and pleasant crunch. There's something about eating a full, balanced meal at lunch---starch, vegetables, and protein, that feels both extravagant and right. At only 5-ish euros, it doesn't offend the pocket either. Though I'm often tempted towards the Ayurvedic offerings, the Schnitzel might just have swayed me towards the "mother's cooking pot." 

Oranienstr. 169
10999 Berlin-Kreuzberg
Tel. 030 53 00 70 61
Mo-Fri 10-18h, Sa/Su closed

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