The Paris Bar: Berlin at its Most Arty

Paris bar: source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pollas/78163883/

The Paris Bar is one of those places that is best experienced and seen rather than described.

But to really experience it you have to drop all of your preconceptions. First forget the fact that it is called a bar, because you come here to eat.

Then drop all ideas of what a good French restaurant ought to look like, because this is nothing like it at all. Walk in the door and you are assailed by art. From the multiple pictures and paintings on the walls to the space-rocket sculptures dangling from the ceiling to the beautifully retro West Berliners who come to eat here, dressed as if the Berlin wall had not yet come down. This is a place to people spot, and one of the first stops on your people spotting will be the deliberately surly and unfriendly waiters.

They make a point of being rude, pretending not to hear you and acting as if they don’t care. In fact, they provide a pretty good service and always provide exactly what is wanted.  If you’ve ever waited tables you’ll know how tough it is keeping track of loads of tables in a busy place. It is even tougher when you are trying hard to pretend as if you’re not.

The people are a strange mix of old West Berliners, tourists and celebrities. Loads have been here and just about everyone who is anyone who has visited Berlin has been here. Think Madonna, Gorbachev and Robert De Niro (according to Berlin.unlike’s review.

The next big thing is the art on the walls. The place either has some famous pieces or has been painted by famous people. One such is the  Martin Kippenberger painting, Paris bar Berlin. He firstly acted as curator and installed all the art in the place, then painted the interior. That painting sold for more than $3 million at Christies.

Martin Kippenberger's take on the Paris Bar Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/artimages/3676043603/

I had a great meal there, but I stuck with something I thought they would do well: steak and chips. It was excellent, though not at all cheap.

The New York Times had the following tip for getting a table:

The bustling art canteen in Charlottenburg serves bistro grub of the first order: excellent steak frites, glistening salads. The reservation policy is quirky. If you call from a hotel, the host may declare the restaurant fully booked. Show up at the door unannounced, however, and chances are you’ll be whisked to a table immediately.

While Frommers is a bit more sneery about this great place:

It’s crowded with elbow-to-elbow tables like a Montmartre tourist trap but is a genuinely pleasing little place on the see-and-be-seen circuit, close to the Theater des Westens. The food is invariably fresh and well prepared, but not particularly innovative.

All in all, this is well worth adding to your list of must do’s in Berlin, if you have the cash.

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