It was around 4:00 in the afternoon. We had just landed in Berlin, figured out public transit, and checked into our Airbnb, and we were starving. But nothing was open during this awkward window between lunch and dinner.
In our hour of need, my friend and I were lucky enough to stumble into Weingalerie und Café NÖ!
The first thing I love about this place is the name. A cafe called “No!” is exactly my aesthetic. Write that on my tombstone.
We were the only customers in the deserted cafe at this time. The lone staff member greeted us and seated us immediately. Tourists in Germany, we were on a mission to experience stereotypical German food. We both ordered the Bavarian veal sausage and pretzel. The waiter notified us that the kitchen was out of sausages, but that the chef had run to the market to buy more.
How good could sausages and pretzels be? I was skeptical.
The presentation was not what I expected. Kind of underwhelming, in fact. A white ceramic dish contained the two Bavarian sausages, floating in water. The pretzel was served on a plate beside it, accompanied by a small bowl of sweet mustard. White bowl, white plate, white tablecloth. Pale meat in water on a white background. Plain salted pretzel on a white plate. It was not the kind of meal you ate with your eyes first.
But once I took a bite of the sausage and pretzel dipped in mustard, I was hooked. This was the first time I understood that actually, German food can be really good. Even someone who is slightly grossed out by the concept of sausage, like me, can appreciate how skillfully these were made. The pretzel was soft and warm, not at all like the tough, stale pretzels we had grown used to in the US. I now understand just how well mustard complements a salted soft pretzel.
The thing about these Bavarian sausages is that you have to take the casing off first. It’s not edible. Unfortunately, we only had butter knives with which to cut and peel the casing off, and the springy sausage bounced around every time you tried to pierce it with a dull knife.
In the process of trying to extract edible sausage from inedible lining, my dining partner poked her food at exactly the right angle to send the sausage bouncing off her plate and onto the floor. She was embarrassed, but there was no one else in the restaurant and the waiter wasn’t around, so we shrugged it off. Each serving came with two sausages. We still had three sausages left and agreed to share them, no big deal.
A few minutes later, the waiter returned with another covered ceramic dish and set it on the table next to her.
“This is for the flying Bavarian,” he said. We looked at him, not quite understanding.
Dramatically, he knelt down beside us and waved his hand through the air, as if tracing a rainbow. “The flying Bavarian,” he repeated slowly.
From some hidden location in the restaurant, unbeknownst to us, he had seen the sausage fly off my friend’s plate and through the air and land on the floor. He witnessed our embarrassment. And he brought us a whole new dish, free of charge.
By this point, my friend’s face was beet red, mortified. We were both speechless from laughter.
The very kind people running Weingalerie und Café NÖ! not only ran out and bought sausages for us, their two lone customers, but also gave us an extra sausage to replace my friend’s fallen one.
Dining at Weingalerie und Café NÖ! set the tone for the rest of our time in Berlin. Service was so friendly and welcoming that we immediately felt right at home. Although we didn’t have any wine on this visit, their wine selection is extensive and worth pairing with a cheese platter.
We still talk about The Flying Bavarian to this day as one of our fondest memories of Berlin.