If you set up a scale of nostalgia for the DDR, I would not be far from the origo. But approximating zero is not equal to zero. The Nikolaiviertel in Berlin Mitte is something the regime should be credited for. This quarter was, as most of the city, reduced to rubble in 1945, and it took quite some time before they got around to restoring it. The restoration did not just set up some big slabs of concrete, this was an attempt to recreate the oldest part of the medieval city for Berlin’s 750th anniversary in 1987.
What we find today is a charming collection of restored and replicated houses with lots of outside seating at the riverside cafes in sunny weather. During the winter, you find cozy old-fashioned restaurants and Kneipen, most of them more on the rustic than on the high dining side.
On a cold and dark evening in January, Zur Gerichtslaube offers a range of local and regional dishes. This restaurant is located in was used to be an old courthouse. I have a feeling that the present building is pretty new. Their web site informs us that all in all the Gerichtslaube was reconstructed three times and relocated twice, but it is rather vague about dates after 1482 or so. But the illusion works well, you have the feeling of entering a place with roots going back to the middle ages here.
The food leans heavily towards the Sauerkrauft school of cuisine, but there are vegetarian options, too. With just a few days in town, I wanted to try something beyond sausages, and the Grosse Abendplatte, the large evening board seemed to be the thing. Meatballs, smoked venison, cured deer sausage, cheese, pickles … there was even a herb Schnapps included. Very pleasant, but the cheese selection was not particularly inspired.
The beer list is not particularly long, but there are two beers brewed especially for them. The Schöffenbier is an unfiltered pilsener or Helles, light bodied with some flowery hops, soft and pleasant to drink. There is also A Schwartzbier, which has the same problem that most of these dark lagers have in the region, it is all about caramel,
Polite and friendly service, mixed crowd. I have a feeling this is packed with tourists in the summer, so it is probably best to book a table.
I certainly recommend a visit. You can have a snack and a beer if you’re not up to a big meal. Expensive? More so than the place off Alexanderplatz where you get a huge pig’s knuckle and a beer for 10 Euros. But then you get quite another experience.