In the heart of Mitte, but still hidden away: Chipperfield Kantine merges beautiful architecture, beautiful lunch cuisine, and, most importantly, a contemporary way to use the city’s resources.
Between August- and Linienstraße — the two gallery hotspots in the north of Mitte — runs Joachimstraße. Maren Thimm, who’s known for her restaurant Lokal on Linienstraße, also runs the Kantine on Joachimstraße. It’s not a canteen in the truest sense of the word. There is no convenience food or trivial furniture to be found. In fact, it’s a rather inspiring place to meet.
A good deal of the space’s atmosphere is down to its landlord and designer; the architecture firm Chipperfield. In Berlin, they’re well known for their work on museum island, the revitalised New Museum and the freshly opened James-Simon-Galerie. Creating urban spaces not confined to commercial use — spaces for civic encounter, if you will — that’s Chipperfield’s mantra.
Open to all
And so, Kantine is actually the staff canteen of Chipperfield architects. The 120 employees (Berlin is just one of their four locations) can meet here every day. For breakfast, for lunch, or for coffee in the afternoon. At the same time, however, the canteen is open to visitors from the neighbourhood — or passersby.
The space itself gives an idea what to expect if you were to hire the practice: a courtyard with a row of sycamore trees gives way to a simple, pared-back concrete building housing the canteen. Not ephemeral, built to last an eternity. The ground floor is dominated by a long concrete counter, topped with marble, and a long leather bench with small tables in front of it. For the second floor, David Chipperfield himself has designed large oak benches and tables. Floor-length, grey-green curtains bring a softness to the room. You can sit at the long table with people you don’t know, but who are easy to get into conversation with.
It’s beautiful to sit here, both outside under the sycamore trees, and inside. And the cooking is as straightforward as the architecture, using fresh, natural ingredients. Salads with spinach, cucumber, shaved fennel, grapes, sheep’s cheese, and a mild dressing. Crunchy, yet juicy. Or sweet potato soup with curry, or fusilli with veal-chicken ragout. A piece of Italy, included daily. But there are also other things; for example cod fillet, pan-fried to perfection, with asparagus-cucumber-sour cream salad. Patrons order at the bar, take one part of the meal to the table themselves; the warm dishes are then served by the lovely staff.
Kantine offers what the digital world doesn’t: warmth, cosiness, nourishment. It’s all taken seriously, without being too serious and stiff, but rather cheerful and lively.
Address: backyard of Joachimstraße 11, Mitte | Mon-Thu 8.30am-5.30pm, Fri 8.30am-7pm
Directions: U-Bahn station Rosenthaler Platz
Translated by Aida Baghernejad