Nov 30 2010
Why do people ignore Zum Nussbaum (’to the Nut tree’, directly translated) in the contemporary discussion of Berlin oldest best tradition restaurants? It’s small, charming, full of old Germans – which is exactly the crowd that you want in such a place – and most importantly, their dishes are absolutely amazingly delicious! I took there dozens of guests already. All of them, without exception, had nothing but compliments for the food. So people talk about ‘Zur letzten Instanz’, which is the oldest restaurant in the city. Or ‘Max & Moritz’ or ‘Schwarzwald stuben’ – two modern interpretations on classical dishes. But they forget Zum Nussbaum. Which might not be the oldest – though it’s old, or very modern – though it’s tasty – but it’s highly recommendable. If you ask me.
And you do ask – since you’re here, right?
[The restaurant, from 1903. From Wikimedia]
Zum Nussbaum is a 500-years old restaurant (yeah, don’t run away to wash your eyes. You read it correctly. Five-Hundred(!) years). Which makes it older than some countries. It used to be in the Fisher island (Fischer Strasse 21 to be exact), and got its name from a garden of nut trees standing in front of it. The restaurant was popular among carriage drivers (the fore-fathers of cab-drivers), and was famous for handing free beers for drivers who took guests home safely. There isn’t a better incentive for Germans than free beer. Then the house was destroyed. and then reconstructed. Along with a nut tree at the front, at the beautiful historial Nikolaiviertel (Nikolai quarter), where it stands today.
The place opens daily from noon till late at night. During lunch it’s hard to get a place there, as the old Germans jumps on them like cats on milk. They dine long lunch, get their daily-unhealthy fat dish with a big seasonal beer (the beers in the place changes according to the season and tradition). They usually down it all with a few bitter liqueurs in the end, and chat with pleasure with foreigners. Like myself.
The menu is short but to the point. It got all the pantheon of classical Berlin dishes: huge wursts with sour cabbage salad, a pig’s knuckle or a blood pudding thingy. But I never take those. I take my dish: Boulette. It’s a huge berlin-meatball (Boulette) with a fried egg on it, some salty fried potatoes on the side – and of course, soured-pickles. The changing menu include some heavy dishes like Schnitzel with an egg, or, at the right season – a variety of asparagus dishes. All of those being accompanied by excellent German beer (don’t ignore the bock beer if you visit the place in November-December), and a nice old environment.
Name: Zum Nussbaum.
Address: Am Nussbaum 3. Can it be that the name of the street came from the name of the place?
Opening Hours: 12:00-2:00. I ask myself who are the people who go there after midnight?
Buttom Line: A piece of a taste of old Berlin. Food and culture both.