Two weeks after getting back from London and I still have finds to file! So here we go.
Our weekend in London included an epic day trip south, which I’ll split into a couple of parts. First up is the Old Bell Inn.
After being stuck for what felt like hours in London traffic, we hightailed it to the little town of Rye and arrived just in time for lunch at The Old Bell Inn. None of us knew anything about The Bell—it was the lovely patio that had caught our attention. But the patio was full so we sat inside and I’m so glad we did. Sun was shining through the leaded glass windows and the interior had a lot of character. I guess it should, given that it was built in 1390.
A little google on the place tells these goodies: it was connected to the nearby Mermaid Inn via secret tunnel used by the Hawkhurst Gang for smuggling goods in the 1730s AND its name comes from some fratboy shenanigans with the French involving the town church bells.
The Old Bell Inn
33 The Mint
Rye, East Sussex
Next time: Rye Town
It really is kind of secret. Soho’s Secret Tea Room sits above the Coach & Horses pub, and is accessible only by a tiny winding staircase behind the bar. You have to ask to get access to the stairs that lead to a tea room with high ceilings, huge windows, wooden floors, a fireplace, and little tables covered with old fashioned tablecloths. The servers are kept busy delivering tea, scones, cakes, and sandwiches—and flipping vintage 78s that play a soundtrack of 1930s big band on a tiny red record player.
We choose this place based on a recommendation from our friend Natalie, who described it as feeling very similar to childhood afternoon teas at grandma’s house. Sold.
On this rainy Sunday we easily got a seat without reservations, but word is that the secret’s out and reservations are usually needed.
Photos by Anthony
If there are any secrets left at the Mauerpark, they would be the Dinnele food stand and the Schönwetter beer garden, both hidden inside the park’s flea market.
Dinnele are a south German specialty—similar to wood fired pizza—but made with whole grain dough and topped with a creamy layer of Schmand and your choice of potatoes, vegetables, bacon, onions, or cheese. And they are a total steal at € 3,80.
There is always a line for the Dinnele at Schönwetter, but watching the baker slide trays in and out of the wood-burning oven is entertaining and so is the people watching in the adjacent beer garden.
Dinnele vom Bodensee / Schönwetter
Bernauer Straße 63 Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg
Photos by Rebecca for the Field Office
Word on the street is that real estate developers have their eyes on Kreuzberg’s Prinzessinengarten, a community garden on Moritzplatz. Sadly this is no surprise. So many empty, overlooked spaces in Berlin have been turned into unique and useful spaces by industrious folks—only to be bulldozed for some soulless monstrosity.
I hope that this isn’t the fate of the Prinzessinnengarten, which practices a lively schedule of gardening, cooking, and teaching. Their cafe uses food from the garden—Anthony was given a knife and instructed where to find the mint for the tea he ordered—and you can dine and drink at tables in a tiny forest of trees. Plants are available for sale and a roster of interpretive programs use the garden as a backdrop for education and community.
Enjoy it while it’s still there.
Last week we were invited by the Hotel Concorde to the launch party of its new blog, French & Fresh. It’s not often that we venture to the western part of the city, so it was a great opportunity to head to Ku’damm, indulge in some of the five-star hotel’s amazing food, drink, and hospitality, and meet some fellow bloggers like Thea from SisterMAG.
Anthony’s photo of the hotel’s architect, Jan Kleihues, was chosen as the best photo of the evening—and awarded a night’s stay as the prize! And my photo (top) was chosen for best food photo, an honor that comes with a dinner for two at the hotel’s brasserie Le Faubourg. So we are already looking forward to going back and will make a nice mini-escape of it.
A big thank you to the staff who organized such a lovely event and invited us to join! We truly enjoyed ourselves.
Hotel Concorde Berlin
Augsburger Straße 41
Last year’s lackluster summer weather kept me away from the Prater, Berlin’s oldest Biergarten tucked off the busy Kastanienallee. This summer I seem to be making up for lost time, having frequented it three times now, first with Ashley, Andreas, and Hazel and most recently with the gang in town for the Hive Conference—Anne, Alex, Brittany, Lindsey, Bryan, and Ashley.
This weather we are having right now—hot but dry, daylight that stretches almost until 10pm, warm and breezy evenings—it’s my favorite.
Finally. After a long time of knowing about this place and planning to go there and something always going haywire, yesterday afternoon a visit went down. Granted, the weather was looking iffy and we had a Plan B lined up, but we went anyways. The sun even came out for a few.
This place is a community garden with a cafe and beer garden in the middle. We had the day’s special: potato salad sprinkled with flowers and sides of green beans and beets. Warm, homemade bread, too.
Schoenbrunn sits in the middle of the Volkspark Friedrichshain and is surrounded by gardens and a pond. I’ve pointed many a visitor here because it showcases many of the best things about Berlin: drawn out brunches in the sun (its patio seating gets full sun starting early in the day, which means outdoor brunch even in November), GDR architecture, and endless people watching.
Volkspark Friedrichshain, Berlin
The Cafe Bar Haliflor is one of those rare cafe/bars that fits the bill in good weather or bad. It’s cozy on a winter day and in the summer its massive windows open up to the world outside. Sidewalk seating, too.
Just off of Kastanienallee so it’s close to the action but a beat calmer. Also around the corner from the Lichtblick Kino—good for pre or post movie drinks. They serve a bit of fare—brunch as well as soups in the evening.
Cafe Bar Haliflor
Schwedter Straße 26
Anyone who spent their childhood in a northern climate knows the deal: when it snows, you head out to play until you are so cold that you can’t stand it anymore. Then you go inside, drink something warm and eat something tasty.
There was a bit of sunshine and blue sky today, so like good a Berlinerin I went outside and walked through the fresh snowfall in this never-ending graveyard hidden behind high stone walls at the end of the Winsstraße. When it got to be too cold, I stopped for a coffee and a plate of cookies around the corner at Ilse Hünchen. It’s a tiny place so it can be hard to find a seat, but the staff are warm and friendly and the atmosphere is always relaxed. A good grown-up version of the childhood routine.
When I left the apartment at 4pm this afternoon, the sun had already set and turned the sky and buildings pink. It was pretty spectacular—people were stopped on the sidewalk and in the streets, staring.
I was on my way to Si An-Tra for a little Sunday afternoon coffee and cake, but by the time I got there and sat down under the lanterns I ended up eating my treats in the dark.
I don’t usually participate in the German Sunday-afternoon-coffee-and-cake business—I’m not a big dessert fan. But the Vietnamese desserts at this little tea room could convert me.