I read a lot of reviews of the Kreuzberg restaurant "Eckbert Zwo" which called it "modern/new German" or "neue deutsche Küche," which is what I've been seeking for phase II of my project. Everyone raved about the adorable atmosphere, which I actually found pretty nondescript, save for the completely random tropical aquarium that flanks the bar. Looking at the menu and the atmosphere, I wasn't really getting how this was different from the other places I'd been. It didn't feel too modern or new to me, it just looked like a plain old restaurant with plain old German fare.
I decided to try leberkäse, aka "liver cheese," another dish I'd been secretly avoiding because of it's name. That was until I found out that it contains neither liver nor cheese--- it's actually just a complete misnomer whose origins remain a mystery. Armed with this knowledge, I ordered it without hesitation, and was thrilled to find that it even had a fried egg on it!
Leberkäse is actually the German version of meat loaf, which consists of some variation of pork, beef, bacon and onions, ground up very finely and baked until brown in a loaf pan. I have to preface this by saying that I didn't grow up on meatloaf. Call me un-American, but my Italian mother just never made it and I never had it. I can't be the only one who finds the idea of meat being molded into a "loaf" unappealing. Please refer to the picture below:
My two friends got Spätzle and Schnitzel. I was excited to see how these classics that I'd already tried a few times would be modernized at Eckbert Zwo. I was a little surprised when I saw the Schnitzel alone on a plate, as it often is. You'd think that a place that supposedly offers a "fresh approach" to German traditional cooking would at least improve on the old favorite by adding some sides, or at least some sort of garnish to give the plate some visual appeal. However, this Schnitzel was far better than the one at Anaveda. I think Anaveda's version might have been their attempt at a healthier Schnitzel, and seemed to maybe have been baked rather than fried. Schnitzel at its core is a fried thing, and I think perhaps it's best if kept that way. It's kind of like when people make baked french fries in the oven. Sure, they're good and they're healthier, but they just don't compare to the ones out of the fryolater. Anyways, this Schnitzel was made with much finer breadcrumbs, which created a golden and much crunchier crust. Clearly this is what Schnitzel is supposed to taste like.
The Käsespätzle looked a lot different than any I've come across. It tasted like very thick homemade pasta, which as we've discussed, it has a lot of similarities to.
By the way, even though it was dark in these pictures (it get's dark around 4 here), all these things are on the lunch menu, which changes daily, and uses all regional produce. I start to think that maybe that's what "neue deutsche Küche" means---using local products and eco-friendly methods. Maybe it's not necessarily a truffled bite-size Schnitzel on a bed of micro greens, but instead a basic Wienerschnitzel from a grass-fed calf with a side of potatoes grown by local farmers. The only way to tell is to continue my investigation at some more fashionable German food spots.