A Berlin Bar That Embraces Natural Wines


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A short-rib “toastie,” with Cheddar cheese, and red onions and lime juice on the side.

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Oscar Bernal

Just inside the entrance of Wild Things, a new wine bar in the Neukölln neighborhood of Berlin, looms a makeshift basketball hoop, into which customers can shoot discarded corks. Its bottom is sealed — so that customers don’t get bonked — making it more of a cork basket. Precaution aside, the boozy spin on the American sport is an example of the bar’s playful attitude, one also reflected in both its funky selection of wines and a menu that features fresh ingredients and some twists.

Wild Things, which opened in March, has the outward appearance of your average Neukölln haunt. Inside, a more rustic look sets it apart from its grittier neighbors. French oak barrels double as bar tables in the front room, and a back room is set up as a beer hall with a large and colorful mural of wild things — in this case, wolves.

Wild might also be used to describe the wine list, where natural labels are the sole focus, unusual in Berlin. “It’s pretty simple for my crew and me,” said Ramses Manneck, the founder. “We like drinking natural wines and truly believe that natural wines are simply the best wines to drink — with or without food.”

Each week, the chefs devise a menu that complements — but does not necessarily pair with — the often offbeat profiles of the wines. During a spring visit, there was popcorn sprinkled with furikake, a umami-heavy Japanese flavoring mix; a pickle plate that included seasonal items like rhubarb; and a take on that beloved Southern favorite, deviled eggs. As the leg of jamón Ibérico resting on the bar would indicate, there is also a selection of other cured meats, as well as items from a local cheesemonger, Blomeyer’s Käse.

On another visit, I began my meal with a round of oysters from Brittany (what the Wild Things staff refers to as a “shot of iodine”), which was paired with a minerally white from the Loire. We quickly moved to classic throwbacks like shrimp cocktail and fresh local asparagus drizzled with a light lemony sauce.

In only a short time, Wild Things has become a neighborhood hot spot. “We think we are doing something here by not being pretentious,” said Oscar Bernal, a co-owner. With its impressive bottle selection, thoughtful cuisine and laid-back vibe, Wild Things is an example of Berlin’s willingness to enliven old forms with a new and relaxed approach.

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