Last week we visited Berlin for Matt’s birthday. We were desperate for a boozy lunch and settled upon Berlin as the location. We managed to snag a great table by the open windows. Sitting on the top of the hill in the glorious sun, I felt like the queen of Itaewon. Sadly the view is not so spectacular but it’s still a nice spot all the same.

The menu is a mix of Thai and Italian with a good variety of pastas, noodles, salads, meat dishes and various appetizers. We visited on a Wednesday but on weekends they have a special brunch menu serving sandwiches and more traditional brunch fare. They also have a rather extensive cocktail list. Including the mango mint martini and a cucumber mojito, both of which I recommend. They also serve Hendricks gin which is the only gin worth drinking according to my good friend and professional lush Matt.

The birthday boy ordered the Italian platter priced at 26,000. It consisted of a capressa salad, stuffed tortellini and pesto chicken. You could certainly share this between two of you but you might want an extra side or two if you are very hungry. I could easily devour this myself. I love a capressa salad and this one looked great with real mozzarella and a delicious balsamic dressing. The sauce for the ravioli was also divine. I didn’t try the chicken but my companions said it was great. They devoured this whole plate in minutes and there was nothing left. I usually take that to be a good sign.

One of my dining companions ordered the rigatoni with avocado in cream sauce and chicken 14,000. He was gracious enough to let me try it and I was very happy he did. The pasta was cooked perfectly. I know it’s not particularly hard to cook pasta, but in a restaurant situation there always room for error if you’re focusing on other tasks. However this was just right, al dente. The cream sauce was tasty and the chicken a nice addition. I would probably order this on my next visit.

I ordered the Sirloin and avocado salad, 14,000. I was really looking forward to it, and I was very impressed with how it was presented when it arrived. However the taste didn’t quite match up the look. The salad leaves were over dressed and rather oily, and that is not usually a huge problem for me. The steak was cooked wonderfully, still a little rare in the middle but sadly it was tasteless. It lacked any flavor and needed to be seasoned or seared with something to give it a bit of oomph. The dish was ok but nothing special and I don’t think I would order it again. On a positive note I did enjoy the potato wedges.

Niall ordered the grilled salmon 18,000. Which he enjoyed immensely. If they did a chicken version of this I would be very keen to try it.  He said that the salmon was perfectly cooked and just fell apart in your mouth. It was topped with grilled cheese and served on a bed of potatoes and pak choi. The sauce was lovely and creamy. It was a great balance to the flavor of the salmon.

Our last choice was the cheese platter, 20,000. However we were a little bit disappointed that they weren’t more generous with the cheese. Although there were five types –  smoked, brie, emmental and two soft cheeses. The soft cheeses were basically just flavored cheese triangles. Not really acceptable in Europe but possibly ok for Korea. The plate came with a generous serving of crackers and olives marinated in rosemary oil, which sadly were far too salty to eat.

Overall we were all happy with our meal and vowed to return, although that could have been the gin talking. It has a great ambience and would be good spot for date. Although I think next time I will stick to the  Italian options and order more drinks.

Berlin is located just below Buddha’s Belly on the hill at the end of Itaewon overlooking the gate at 457-1 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea 140-858. From Noksapyeong Station (line 6): Go out exit 1. Cross the overpass bridge. Go right. Follow the curve around and Berlin is the first business on the right. From Itaewon Station (line 6): Go out exit 1. Walk straight about 5 minutes. Go up the alley across the street from McDonald’s (look for the yellow Money Exchange sign). Follow the curve around and Berlin is on the left. You can call them on 02-749-0903. Or check out their Facebook page  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Berlin-Cafe-Lounge/53432217650.

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