House of Small Wonder – A Piece of New York in Berlin
A rather spontaneous breakfast invitation reached me this past Saturday and I was truly excited about that date. No less because of the venue that was hitherto hardly known. Even the address did not ring a bell at first, but I was able to locate the House of Small Wonder right next to Friedrichstadt Palast, on the first floor of a rather ordinary building. I was all the more surprised by what I was about to discover.
On a piercing cold Berlin morning, I entered this new branch of a New York coffee shop-restaurant, and climbed an industrial spiral staircase to finally arrive on the first floor. Oh wonder! The interior that welcomed me upstairs appeared like a three-dimensional collage. A lot of wood, a lot of plants. A colorful mashup of materials as different as can be. Bright. Friendly. And Warm.
„Urban greenhouse meets American cuisine with a Japanese twist“ is the motto of this recently opened hotspot and it's based on Japanese Motoko Watanabe and the American Shaul Margulies' formula for success. In 2010, they opened up their first House of Small Wonder in the New York district of Williamsburg which soon became a prime destination for breakfast, brunch and pastries.
In keeping with the motto „First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin“, these two and their distinct culinary concept have only gotten started: comfort food made of regional organic ingredients, all fresh and, ever so often, refined with Japanese spices. Homemade bread, almond or banana chocolate croissants, as well as pastries and, to my great joy, even gluten-free cookies are freshly baked throughout the day.
In the mornings, you get excellent Japanese tea, coffee and many an American breakfast classic. Thanks to that Japanese twist, the cake is only mildly sweet and homemade, naturally. New York's all-day brunch routine is put forward in the form of poached eggs covered in wasabi hollandaise, sesame ginger pancakes, shiso bacon waffles and sweet kakuni grilled cheese sandwiches. Scrambled eggs are served with parmesan and thyme on a homemade, freshly baked croissant.
The equal amount of surprise awaits you on the lunch menu including creations such as the 'Okinawan Taco Rice', made with pork, chopped vegetables, cheese and rice, topped with a fried egg, or 'Tsukune Don' – Japanese chicken dumplings, spiced with sweet soy sauce, nori, scallion and sesame, and served with a soft-boiled egg and rice.
I'd like one of everything, please!, I tell the lovely Japanese waitress, start off with a cup of tea and a peanut butter cookie and feast my eyes on this cosy space.