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5 posts from March 2014

High, high above: Monkey Bar at Bikini Berlin

Monkey-bar-berlin-benches-view Monkey-bar-view-zoo

And indeed, you do look over the apes. The breadth of the city vista and the delight of the changing sky are the best reasons to let afternoon drift to evening as you loll on the teal window-side poufs. 



 We sipped our elderflower tonics and debated whether to order a trio of hummus or a New York cheesecake. The coffee (whether for the sake of the joke or just because the Kreuzberg roastery is utterly reliable) is from Five Elephant; the sodas by Berlin manufacturer Thomas Henry. The service was disorganized and cold, an unfortunate combination, but we found the storks engrossing enough not to mind waiting a half-hour (and talking to three waiters) before we could pay. 


A generosity permeates the space. Tiered benches let strangers share the view. The entire hotel was designed by Werner Aisslinger's studio, and I was pleased, on going home, to recollect a visit I made to another space he created, which similarly blurred the division between the intimate and the out-of-doors.

Monkey Bar, on the top of the 25Hours hotel at Bikini Berlin, Budapester Str. 40, Berlin-Charlottenburg (map), spacious hotel bar full of nooks, with a terrace and a fireplace, made for sunsets. 
Open 3pm til late


No spring without an exaltation of blossoms





At a flower shop along Belziger Straße | On the window sill at Lina Rothenberger | At home | At the witch's playground


Three beakers at Thone Negrón







The Berlinale was on when I stepped into the new premises of Ettina Berrios-Negrón's boutique Thone Negrón in Linienstraße. The restful space, done in shades of sage and mushroom, was quiet. The designer herself, tape measure in hand, was kneeling at the feet of the sort of woman I otherwise only know from films, pinning up the hem of her floor-length claret skirt. — Will it be done by Friday? — Yes. 

The point of the place is, of course, fashion, but I busied myself with the beakers and vases on the slim wall shelf. They're made, Ettina told me, by a brother and sister who took over their parents' pottery studio near the Loire: Les Guimards 

Yolk yellow, mouse-gray, duck-egg blue. Three places set. I was sold. They have been our water beakers ever since.

Thone Negrón Salon, Linienstr. 71, Berlin-Mitte (map

Revisiting: Sasaya


In 2004, March was similarly radiant. Alison sang scales as she hunted for a cardigan in her suitcase; her mezzo filled the courtyard. We had spent the morning planting herbs on my kitchen windowsill. 

Come lunchtime, a whim took us down Lychener Straße, where I once had lived. 

Sasaya's cool aqua cushions and golden wood stopped us in our tracks. Save for one couple, the place was empty. We began with maki, dabbled in some small seaweed and pickled dishes, then finished with capacious bowls of udon soup. Until then, I had trekked through Mauerpark in the dark for a sushi fix on Oderberger Straße. I must have returned weekly in the coming months.


Now the unpretentious and reliable Yoshioka is closer to home. But a decade later, there are few other places I'd rather be on a Sunday at noon. Sometimes it's the fatty sateity of a butadon. Sometimes, it's the purity of  one unagi maki and a bowl of miso soup. And other Sundays edge towards the opulence of that first, yellowtail sashimi following grilled mussels following a wakame tangle, with sips of roasted rice tea from the shiny graphite cups the chef throws on his days off, basking in the combination of reflected sunshine and the French Suites.

Sasaya, Lychener Str. 50, Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg (map), a jewel of a Japanese restaurant, currently open Thursday to Mondays only, reservations often necessary.


Postcard from Edinburgh




Here and there and elsewhere just now. Edinburgh, briefly. Do climb the winding cobblestone path in the direction of Ramsay Lane. Do descend the Scotsman Steps on your way to the Ingleby. Do admire the windowbox flowers, both artificial and not.

PS: Tickled, catching up with things, to discover these kind words from Berliner Zeitung, and to hear myself in German („Am Abend ist `Das Lokal‘ überfüllt mit hübschen Menschen. Aber an einem Sonntagnachmittag ist es fast leer. Die Angestellten lächeln und sobald einem der Löffel auf den Boden fällt, wird einem ein neuer gebracht“).