On Saturdays in Berlin, the Winterfeldt Markt is the place to go. You’ll find fresh produce, cheeses, barrels full of olives, smoked trout, herring sandwiches, and, if you prefer, dry goods, such as scarves or socks. Even if you’re not in the market for anything in particular, the markt is a fun place to stroll.
When I visited earlier this month, I was met with stand after stand with massive displays of white asparagus -- spargel -- so big and thick that it looked like stacked cordwood. It turned out that it was the height of spargelzeit -- asparagus season. I was disappointed that I was staying in a hotel and wouldn’t be able to take some back to a kitchen to prepare.
But I wasn’t disappointed for long. As we strolled back to the hotel, we began noticing that all of the restaurants along the way were featuring special spargel menus to showcase the popular vegetable.
And that evening, at our dining destination, Dicke Wirtin, near Savignyplatz, our server proudly presented her restaurant’s spargel offerings. How could we not?
Dicke Wirtin means fat landlady, and the restaurant’s logo features a cartoon of said lady, in flower-print house dress with a cigarette dangling from her pursed lips. The restaurant itself is well kitsched, too, a parlor decor with too many knickknacks on shelves along the red papered walls. We were on our guard that perhaps we’d been suckered into a tourist trap. But it seemed as though we were the only non-German speaking guests (not that there couldn’t be German tourists to trap). And the food turned out to quite good.
Rick went with the spargel mit schnitzel, and it was just that -- a stack of the beautiful and surprisingly tender asparagus as the star of the plate and a small breaded and sauteed pork cutlet as an accompaniment. Both were wonderful.
I ordered away from the spargel and went with the beef rouladen, served with red cabbage and frighteningly large potato dumplings. I left nothing on the plate.
Our server was good humored and friendly, all of us communicating in as much of the other’s language we could manage. We managed.
Every now and then, someone from the kitchen would open the door to the dining room and ring a bell with increasing insistence. A bit of comic relief that added to an already enjoyable evening.
Here’s a link to the Dicke Wirtin website for details about the restaurant.