FraRosa – Prenzlauer Berg

Frarosa restaurant in Berlin - Prenzlauer BergFraRosa is a huge favorite. The crowd is always super-cool. So people watching is half the fun. You are as likely to be served here by an anorexic blond in tight, tight jeans as you are by an anorexic transvestite in tight, tight jeans.
The restaurant (along with others in the Weinerei stable) is based on an honour system. You pay €2 into a big piggy bank to get a wine glass then help yourself from a selection on the bar. The reds are usually robust Spanish wines. There is also usually a good selection of German wines. Half the fun is standing at the bar and tasting before settling on one you like.
The meal comes from a limited four-course set menu that changes every everything with two choices of each. Vegetarians are well provided for (so long as they eat fish). A recent meal I had offered a rocket salad with Parmesan or a delicious tomato and fish soup to start. A pasta course of ravioli in sage butter or a fish terrine. For the main course I had a delightful mix of grilled and marinaded salmon.
Each course is usually little more than taster: only three squares of pasta, for instance. But by the end of the meal I am usually quite satisfied without feeling as if I’ve been a glutton.
At the end of the meal you wander over to a large jar and pay what you think it was worth. There is considerable debate as to what is reasonable with some reviews (see, for instance The New York Times review) suggesting €10-€15 for a meal and a few glasses of wine. I think that’s a bit cheap and usually end up paying €20-€25 figuring that most other places just a starter and dessert would set me back €5 each with each glass of wine costing about the same.
I also love the idea of the honour system and don’t want to let them down as some have. According to an interview with the owner in The Guardian newspaper there are “assholes who spend the entire night here and pay €5 …Especially Spanish people. We should have a monument dedicated to us in Madrid, they owe us so much money! But no, it’s OK. Most people are very generous. We won’t get rich doing this, but we never intended to.”
And apart from not being stingy, remember to book. This place packs out quickly and there is no chance of getting a table without a reservation.

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