Asteria Greek Restaurant (Schönhauser Allee 143, U2 Eberswalderstr.) is my one of my favorite restaurants in P’berg. Not because they serve grilled meat dishes smothered in sauce and cheese, not because the happy waiters defy all bad Berliner service stereotypes—but because they keep bringing you free Ouzo shots from the time you walk in to the time you stagger out the door with a bloated belly.
Portions: massive and heavy. Prices: reasonable considering all the free shots. Location: just far enough walking distance to stretch the legs before dinner and walk off all the meat, cheese, sauce, wine and Ouzo streams on the way home.
Did I mention they like to pour you free Ouzo shots all night? Achtung! Broke artist wannabe types and hipsters not welcome. If people like them start showing up for the free shots, it will ruin it for the rest of us. Hint: don’t order raisin salad starters and glare at the waiter with beggar’s eyes. Your Ouzo will flow in accordance with the tides of the liquor universe. Order food and the shots will come. I don’t know what that means my damn self. You just have to drink it to believe it.
I don’t like Ouzo (last time I mention Ouzo...maybe) normally, but hey, it’s free, frosty and served by a jovial Mediterranean man who shouts ‘yia mas! (Greek for Prost!)' after each pouring. I quickly learned this phrase (it was written on the napkins) and proudly proclaimed it after each shot. I was either trying to be more multikulti or priming the pump for more shots. One of those.
I like Asteria because the food is rich, delicious and flavorful (not the usual German bland, salty, greasy/sloppy/ketchup/curry bollox), served in portions large enough to choke a bull moose (and God, I know, I am one). Dunkin’ Berliner recommends ™: Number 83. I don’t know what it is called because I am STILL full of Ouzo as I write this. Also, their website is down. And my semi-furious Googling of words like ‘souklaki,’ ‘souflakis’ and poopacrapaplopolis’ yielded nothing. Just order number 83, trust me. They bring you a hot iron skillet with 3 massive grilled, ground pork patties smothered in smoky, creamy orange (Metaxa?) sauce with melted cheese on top. Side of rice and salad included for around 12 E’s. This is my favorite type of food on general principle: smoky, grilled, saucy and cheesy. I hate dry food and this dish is the polar opposite of my hate (That would be LOVE for you hippie-dippy types).
You just won’t find food this good and service this friendly anywhere in Berlin. The donut gods know I’ve tried. When you finally ask for the bill it comes with (wait for it) more Ouzo shots. And espresso. Gratis. I love you, Asteria, and I’m still trying to find one of the many Greek words for love to describe my overall feelings for you. I’m thinking a bit of philia, a bit of eros and a whole lot of agape.
photo by Gabriela Sarževska