There is nothing that says Jewish or Russian food quite like Blini with salmon, horseradish sauce and sour cream (except perhaps for Borshtsh, Latkes or Kreplach). Whatever your fancy, whether Russian food, Jewish food or just good old winter-warming food, you won’t be disappointed by the Restaurant Pasternak in Berlin.
Pasternak is a firm favourite of both locals and visitors. The food is good, but not prize-winning. Instead people go there for the excellent ambiance and friendly service. It is also incredibly well-located in Prenzlauer Berg very close to the Rykestrasse Synagogue (and just next door to another Russian-themed favourite of ours, Gagarins). It is also very close to the fantastic Wasserturm Prenzlauer Berg, a beautiful old water-tower that has since been turned into apartments, and a great park with a lovely view.
The restaurant is named after the Russian author Boris Pastenak, who wrote Doctor Zhivago, and the internal decor is atmospheric. The best place to sit, however, is outside where you look out onto the water-tower and see people passing along the old streets. It can get a bit chilly in winter but they offer cozy blankets and have heaters. Plus a hot chocolate with a bit of Vodka or their own craft beer usually take the chill off a cold winter’s night.
The time to really experience the Restaurant Pasternak is on a Sunday morning, when they lay out an excellent buffet brunch (as do most restaurants in Berlin). You cannot book for this as it gets really crowded. The best strategy is to go a bit earlier than the rest of the late-sleeping Berlin crowd. You can book in the evenings but I found that in the evenings you can usually get a table by just showing up. Their popular brunch will set you back about 12 euros a person. It is well worth it because you won’t want to eat again for the rest of the day. Trust me.
Oh yes, and be prepared to have some vodka. A meal at restaurant Pasternak without Vodka just wouldn’t be the full experience. To read a lovely review of a meal at Pasternak by a real Eastern-European cooking guru check out this post on the Food Perestroika Blog.
Getting to the Restaurant Pasternak
To find your way to Pasternak, the easiest thing to do is to take the U2 from downtown, get off at Senefelderplatz and walk up the hill. It will be off to your right down Knaackstraße as you get to Kollwitzplatz. Another option is to take the M2 tram to Knaackstraße stop. From there walk towards your left (if taking the tram up the hill away from Alexanderplatz.)