For my new Supper & Styling category posts, I will be combining restaurant and décor reviews into one neat little package for you. So if you're looking for somewhere stylish with a special atmosphere, or even just a relaxed place to eat - you know where to come!
We went to Berlin on a city break in May and and found Neni by chance. It's amazingly located on the tenth floor of Bikini Beach Hotel on Budapester Street, overlooking Berlin zoo. Linked to Neni is The Monkey Bar which has a roof terrace from which you can see the monkeys down below at the zoo.
We were seated at an awesome table right by the window, and one of the quotes on the menu read "I am better near good food" and I already kind of knew I would love this place!
The restaurant decor is simple, colourful chairs are matched with natural materials and a copper-clad bar and serving hatch, but some serious drama is added by the sheer amount of floor to ceiling glass and indoor planting. One table is nestled under a huge lampshade crafted entirely of open magazines!
Walls of plants are cleverly lit in green and pink adding a magical ambience. The tables are kept in natural wood with drain covers ingeniously used as table bases. The middle of the restaurant is enclosed in paned glass - like a glass room within a glass room - with planting running all the way above it and ivy and creepers entwined between the panes.
NENI is a culinary mosaic of Persian, Moroccan, Spanish and Israeli influences, as diverse and globally minded as the Berlin itself. Neni calls it's dining style “Balagan - enjoying good food in enjoyable chaos with family and friends" - sounds just like what I'm used to!
To drink I ordered fizz, naturally, I'm so partial to a glass of Prosecco that very nearly called this category of the blog "Fizz & Frolicking"!
The German Riesling Sekt Brut was crisp and delicious. The menu wasn't too large, which is usually a good sign. We started with the meze trio, which had homemade hummus, marinated monkfish and hamshouka (Neni's version of humus, minced beef and lamb and spicy Chilli), it came with homemade pita served in a little cloth bag that keeps them warm. I can easily say that the hummus and pita were the best I've ever tasted. Everything was extremely fresh and flavourful, and the combinations quite imaginative.
Main courses consisted of the Neni-style kebab; Homemade beef-lamb dumplings with coriander, tahini and grilled vegetables and the grilled veal sirloin steak marinated with Ardbeg Whisky & date syrup, served with puree of Jerusalem artichokes and portwine balsamico shallots. I had the veal which was absolutely perfectly pink and delicious, the purée was unusual, a sweet yet bitter combo that complimented the veal utterly. The kebab was very tasty, our only complaint being that they were slightly dry and would be well matched with perhaps a sauce or a side of cous cous or similar.
Totally gorged and unable to even consider dessert, we politely declined the desert menu, heading instead over to the Monkey Bar, just across the way to find a liquid alternative.
Monkey Bar's interior is totally relaxed too, with even more natural materials and floor to ceiling glass. One side of the bar has the serving area and the other has built in steps for seating, amphitheatre style, where clientele can sit and sip cocktails and enjoy the views out to the zoo below, with cool industrial inspired lamps placed along the steps. The terrace is a fantastic space with, palms and planting lending an exotic feel. Chairs with cozy sheepskins adds to the relaxed atmosphere.
The extensive cocktail menu provided many temptations, so to end our experience, we luxuriated on the terrace for a couple of hours in the sunshine with a King Kong, watching the gorillas swinging beneath...