Are you into food? I mean good tasting food? Silly question, of course you are. I’m guessing the number of people who would answer ‘no’ to that question can be counted on one hand (and have no actual tastebuds). Now, replace the word ‘food’ with the word ‘meat’. If you’re still with me and answered “yes” again, and like me, you still do most of your meat shopping at places like Lidl, then Neukölln’s ‘The Fleischerei’ have one last question for you:
Why grudgingly accept the convenient anonymity of supermarket shopping, instead of actually getting to know the person preparing and supplying the meat in your diet?
The answer to the question above underpins the philosophy behind a new in-carne-ation (bite me) of the classic German Fleischerei, or butchers to you and me. The Fleischerei Tölle on Wildenbruchstrasse in Neukölln has been a feature of the neighbourhood for more than 70 years. Having survived the war, the city’s division, the advent of budget supermarkets and rising costs, it is now facing arguably its greatest challenge yet… gentrification.
As the years went by, Sascha Baschin, the master butcher who trained under the legendary (and now retired) Herr Tölle, worked harder and longer hours than ever but lamented the fact that the hip young kids moving into the kiez didn’t seem interested in engaging with the wide selection of quality meats and charcuterie on offer.
As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”, and so last year Baschin joined forces with one of his regular younger customers, Cormac O’Neill (below). Cormac was keen to share his ideas, and together they worked on a plan to revamp the business, bringing in a new selection of offerings to complement the classics, and attract a new breed of customer to the 70 year old establishment.
Now open for business during the day from Tuesday through Saturday, new visitors are beginning to join the loyal customers who have enjoyed Baschin’s offerings for decades, in sampling a wide variety of meaty treats. Hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches, housemade bangers and mash, boeuf bourguignon, British-style back bacon and fresh sage sausages have all featured so far, with Der Fleischerei also supplying bar snacks (sausage rolls, pickles, jerky, pork scratchings and more) to bars around Neukölln.
Together, Baschin and O’Neill plan to make eating good meat something that you don’t have to feel guilty, confused or frustrated by. They don’t want people to necessarily eat more meat, rather to encourage them to find out more about it and try new things that are either part of the Berliner Küche, or from other international cuisines. Time will tell if they can fully realise their goal but one thing is for sure: their food is off the taste-charts, from the classic staples such as sausage rolls, to more international efforts like Cuban sandwiches, their flavours can’t be beat in this part of town.
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