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Bar Normal Good drinks, fine wines and abnormal bar food

Wednesday, March 30 2022
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Opening Times

Thursday to Sunday: 6:30pm - 11:30pm

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Bar Normal
Oderberger Straße 7
10435 Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg
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+49 172 708 62 97
.ganz-normal.eu

Bar food sounds like olives, chips and salted nuts. Small snacks primarily intended to prevent alcohol from going to your head too quickly. Bar Normal serves homemade focaccia, smoky kale and braised guinea fowl.

There are many bars around Oderbergstraße, says co-owner Van Anh Le. What is missing are places where you can not only drink well but also eat well. The young restaurateur knows her way around Berlin's food scene. Until recently, she and her father ran Van Anh in the corner building at the junction of Oderbergerstraße and Kastanienallee.

After more and more Vietnamese restaurants opened in the area in recent years, the two decided to go new ways. With its round tables, simple wooden chairs and floor decorated with ornate tiles, the restaurant is somewhat reminiscent of a French bistro. Dim lighting and lively music create the promised bar atmosphere. Because yes, here you get both: not only fantastic food but also good drinks and exquisite wines.

I start off sparkling with a bottle-fermented Pet Nat from Czech Republic. It's accompanied by the focaccia I mentioned at the beginning - it's still warm, crispy and baked golden brown - and sourdough bread from Café Frieda. The added butter has been whipped with herbs and oil, making it fluffy and incredibly aromatic.

Bar Normal Berlin by Gebhart de Koekkoek (3)

Next up is bitterballen, a popular bar snack in the Netherlands. They are ball-shaped croquettes traditionally filled with minced meat. The filling of these croquettes is more like puree, dark and creamy - the invention of the meat praline! The secret: the beef is cooked for an extra-long time in pork broth, and the natural gelatine makes it soft and creamy.

These little things, titled as snacks, set the direction for the rest of the culinary journey. Next, I get a Spanish tortilla, topped with a neat dot of chilli mayo. A seemingly simple dish that the kitchen team at Bar Normal brings to perfection. I know tortilla to be relatively firm and compact - here, it has a soft, almost liquid core. The ratio of egg and potato is just correct, and the mayo provides the necessary spice.

I force myself to stop after half (I have the rest packed for home) to save my hunger. Unfortunately, my companion had to cancel due to corona. Nevertheless, I am determined to taste as much as possible from the menu, which reads like a poem for lovers of good food.

The next plate is already in front of me: sautéed mushrooms on a black mole, the Mexican sauce that beats even every Ottolenghi recipe in terms of ingredients. The mushrooms, a colourful mix of different varieties, have bite and a pleasant roasted aroma. The sauce is slightly sweet, tart and spicy on the finish - the perfect balance of chillies, spices, nuts, chocolate, and 30 to 70 ingredients that a mole can contain.

Some dishes - like tortilla and bitterballen - are meant to be available all year round; others change depending on the season and the ideas of the kitchen crew. At the moment, the menu is still winter-themed. Kale, a favourite of the cold season (and one of my favourite vegetables), is, of course, a must.

At Bar Normal, it comes on the plate briefly sautéed, complemented by almond tahini and pickled root vegetables. Even this seemingly simple dish becomes a great treat with a perfectly balanced interplay of roasted notes, bitterness and acidity.

The plates in Bar Normal are not too big, so you can easily try several dishes. But it's best to order together and put everything in the middle. The advantage of my solo dinner: I don't have to share and can eat everything alone. The disadvantage: after snacks and several starters, I'm well stuffed (despite my restraint).

The main courses all sound tempting: Tuscan Bean Stew with Brussel Sprouts and Stracciatella. Orecchiette Alfredo with Cavolo Nero. Glazed Pork Neck with Carrots and Relish. Guinea Fowl with Orange and Rosemary. The chef packs the latter, a guinea fowl roasted with orange and rosemary, for me to take home. Also, a portion of the mashed potato is topped with crispy fried potato skin.

Instead of the main course, she advises me to try another dessert. A little later, she brings me the churro sandwich, which has become a bestseller in the few weeks since it opened. Anyone who has ever been to Spain or South America knows them as a street snack: churros, these deep-fried sticks of dough, classically served with thick chocolate sauce.

The Colombian chef at Bar Normal has created a sandwich that looks - and I quote my stay-at-home boyfriend (who is constantly supplied with dinner photos) - "outrageously delicious": The dough curls are freshly deep-fried, filled with ice cream and dipped in caramel sauce. Sweet and fatty, hot and cold - what more does a dessert need?

An excellent idea for those who don't like it so sweet: a piece of creamy Saint Marcellin cheese served with a glass of sweet wine from the young Italian winery Valdisole. The wine selection at Bar Normal is also extensive and includes wines with a solid character from selected vintners. There are traditional wineries but also newcomers like the aforementioned Valdisole winery, which was founded by two newcomers.

Of course, as befits a bar, there are also cocktails and long drinks - from classics (Negroni) to more unusual creations (Beer Americano). But at this bar, the food is so good, so many miles away from standard bar snacks served and thus absolutely NOT normal, that you can also just come here to eat.

By the way: the guinea fowl with mashed potatoes, which I heated up at home the next day and ate with my sister, also tasted fantastic.

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