La Cantina at Tausend

One of my work colleagues, Tom talked about this very interesting restaurant hidden away, literally with just a door underneath the bridge that crosses the river into the Friedrichstraße S-Bahn station. It’s best to book ahead for the restaurant, as even just for popping into the bar appears to require some level of planning. Or at least you need to be dressed to impress with most people wearing suits, or stylish dresses for the ladies.

The restaurant isn’t very big although several people seemed to be dining at the bar there. The food focuses on both Asian, and Spanish foods. Not really a fusion, but more a variety that spans both. I’m a little skeptical of places like this, but I can say that it seemed to work okay.

Be prepared to spend. Although it won’t break the bank, the dishes are small and you will need a few to probably fill up. Here we have the aubergine with miso sauce (€7), a light miso sauce infused with sesame. It’s a very good classic Japanese dish that I love and they did very well.

Spicy pimientos in padron salt (€6) never fail to impress. They arrived steaming and fresh, very full of spice. Mmmm. Very nice.

This dish of garlic prawns (€10) definitely came with lots of prawns. They weren’t the big prawns I’ve seen and I’ve had better, more spicy garlic oil at other places in Berlin but it was still good.

A decent serving of sashimi (€17) arrives looking very impressive.

The main courses aren’t cheap by Berlin standards. I went for the grilled miso cod (€28) and it literally comes by itself. As did the US prime beef steak and it’s best to get some sides although this adds up. A serving of herb risotto, or mixed vegetables or green salad at €5 or garlic rice, udon or edamame at €4.

I guess one of the most impressive parts of the evening was sipping on cocktails provided in their lounge. Although amazingly smoky for such an airy room, it didn’t really seem to fill up although we did come on a Wednesday and we left my about midnight – both probably very early standards that you cannot properly measure the place by for Berlin standards.

An impressive light at the end of the bar is enough to light the the entire room. Its rays scattered by the mirrored ceiling into the rest of the very darkly furnished bar. Saying that the bar staff know their stuff is a bit of an understatement. Not only do they have their huge list of signature cocktails but it’s pretty easy for them to whip up something they’ve never made before (at least the classics) and they do it pretty well.

Name: La Cantina at Bar Tausend
Found at: Schiffbauerdamm 11, Berlin

Tapas at Barrica

Goodge Street is already home to the another popular tapas bar that I haven’t even been to, although I’m always happy to go with suggestions my good Italian foodie friend, Luca, recommends so Barrica’s Tapas Bar was go. This is the sort of place worth booking ahead for, and even the day ahead, all we could get one of their high tables out front instead of the, more lounge-like seating arrangements out back.

Like all charcuteries, there’s Iberican ham hanging awaiting slicing and dicing of serving and quite a few different Spanish cervezas (beer!) including a really dark flavoured one that I enjoyed drinking.

Grilled picante chorizo – deliciously firm and slightly spicy

There’s plenty to choose from on the menu although they stick to the classic fair. I can assure you that they were done very well and the between the two of us, six or seven different tapas was plenty of finish off.

Classic patatas bravas – seemingly made with Maris Piper potatoes providing a lovely crisp outside to contrast the tomato and mayonnaise topping.

Unfortunately we had to run to see a movie, so we couldn’t stay for dessert and surprised our waitress for the evening who provided entertaining and highly enthused service throughout the meal.

My favourite of the evening – stuffed chillies

When we booked at the last moment, they mentioned that we’d be eating at the bar, although what they really meant by that was eating at high tables that resembled a bar (they were actually separate tables). This might be uncomfortable for some people but still had plenty of privacy.

A couple of beers and six or seven tapas plates between the two of us including service ended up at about £50.

Name: Barrica Tapas Bar
Found at: 62 Goodge Street London W1T 4NE

Urban Turban

This weekend I finally ended up having dinner at Urban Turban on Westbourne Grove. I can’t remember how it got on my list of places to go, perhaps it was the Time Out Top 50, or some random website. When we arrived for dinner (just after seven), I thought that the dining room seemed pretty empty for a Saturday night. It doesn’t help that it’s split into two by the bar, with only a few tables visible from the outside.


We were shown to our table, conveniently located by the window, where numerous passer-bys could see what the fuss was all about. After all, its very classic Eastern dark colours, high ceilings and mood lighting certainly catches the eye. We were presented with menus, including their wine list also listing a whole set of cocktails on offer. Their food menu is split into three main parts, the first section focusing on “tapas-style”, with the second part being more classic dishes, and a small section that included two set menus, one including a “hot rock” grill where you finish the food off at your table with a rock that keeps its temperature for some time.


We decide to start with two tapas dishes, unsure about the portion sizes since each “tapas” dish was £7.50. The pictures above are the “Gun Powder” prawns, and the Crab and Corn Cake. Both dishes were served with a slightly spicy sauce and whilst quite shareable, weren’t worth the price of each dish. The Gun Powder prawns didn’t really have the peppery pizazz one might expect from the name, and the crab and corn cake were delicious and tasty, wasn’t particularly memorable.

Naan and Lamb Biryani

We moved on to the main meal, where we’d ordered the lamb biryani (£12), saali chicken curry (£10), and an aubergine curry (£6) as well as two naan (£3 each). As you can see from the picture above, their naans are huge, since most of them are stuffed with some sort of filling. They had a lot more a unique assortment of them including the chilli garlic naan (that tasted a lot like this sauce, simply spread on top).

Lamb Biryani

Out of the dishes that we picked, the aubergine curry and the lamb biryani were definitely my favourites. The aubergine was hearty and extremely flavoursome, while the lamb biryani reminded me of the few that I remember seeing in India where they were sealed and cooked with a pastry topping (Urban Turban uses a richer, flaky puff pastry and recommend you mix it in, though I remember it was only supposed to be used as a cooking mechanism). They also served it with yogurt mixed with fenugreek that left a distinctive taste, not something that my sister enjoyed but I did.


Urban Turban serves delicious food. I just don’t think it’s worth the price you pay (at least not out of my own pocket). For a dinner for two costing £65 without any alcoholic drinks (1 mango lassi for £3.30, and a nutella colada for £5.50) the food just didn’t really warrant the price. Service was reasonable though I also still question whether or not they can charge 12.5%.

Name: Urban Turban
Location: 98 Westbourne Grove, London W2 5RU
The good: Modern decore, friendly service and some interesting dishes
Not so good: Well over priced tapas dishes or just in general.

Tapas at Alta

altaOn my yearly catch up with Mike in New York, he arranged for us to visit an updated tapas place in the village called Alta. When you walk in, many people chose to eat the bar even though there are tables at the back. Since Mike booked, we were lucky to have one of the tables upstairs, and with an open view of the floor below us, was a really great place to perch for dinner.

The interesting thing about their menu is that it’s not classic moorish food, instead drawing upon a large variety of flavours. We ended up picking three to four dishes each to share, and got to enjoy a mouthful of each dish. Some of my more favourite dishes included the Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Grilled Chorizo Wrapped Gulf Shrimp, Pulled Pork Empanadas, and the Squid Ink Paella. Best of all they also had some amazing desserts including a trio of donuts each filled with a different flavour (chocolate hazelnut ganache, apricot lavender jam, and cardamom cream).

Between the five of us I think we ended up paying US$50 (including tax and tip) though we only had a bottle of sparkling water and two cocktails.

Name: Alta
Location: 64W 10th Street, NYC, 10011
The Good: Interesting variety of tapas. Nice spacing around the tables. They even offer a deal where you can order everything on the menu, though you’d want a larger group!
The Bad: Too many dishes to choose from