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Naked Lunch: A garden of eatin’

LAST CHANCE! Keep watch for those remaining warm and sunny September days. That way, as the leaves fall, you'll be able to make a date to take in the atmosphere – and the dishes – at Naked Lunch, a Mitte garden getaway.

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Photo by Erica Löfman

What’s a restaurant in a Mitte Hinterhof got to do with the 1959 junkie novel by William S. Burroughs? Not much – there’s hardly a mention of food in the book. But film-set caterer and Naked Lunch restaurateur Torsten Bache took inspiration from Burroughs’s explanation of the novel’s title in an interview: “NAKED lunch – a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.”

On warmer days, sitting in the hidden backyard is a true pleasure. In fact, it’s one of the best spots in town for an outdoor meal – a rare leafy garden hidden in a jumble of buildings. Parents with dozing babies, laptop-tapping freelancers and workers from the Weiberwirtschaft women’s business centre in which Naked Lunch is housed appear equally at home here. The €7 two-course lunch is an unspectacular but dependable deal, usually some light veggie “Mediterranean” dish like stuffed zucchini or mushroom ravioli served with a salad and a seasonal desert.

Inside, the oversized lampshades give the space an indefinable cinematic vibe, a kind of modernist cosiness more attuned to the consumption of serious food and wine.

It must be said that dinner is several rungs higher on the culinary ladder than lunch. As one would expect from a restaurant boasting a dedication to regional, seasonal and, whenever possible, organic ingredients. The five or six “European-German” dishes on the menu are switched seasonally. Our dinner in August was unavoidably themed around Pfifferlinge (chanterelle mushrooms, that annual late summer German food craze second only to the early summer asparagus madness). Our Pfifferlinge-stuffed Maultaschen (Swabian jumbo-sized ravioli, €13.60), were as fresh and good as any in living memory, and served with seared cherry tomatoes in a light broth, while the Shoulder of Lamb consisted of tender slices of perfectly cooked meat arranged in an artful gourmet pile of Pfifferlinge and circular slices of bready dumplings (€16.80). Who knows what they’ll be serving up this fall.

Thanks to its second-Hinterhof location, Naked Lunch isn’t overrun by Touris, nor has it been reached by the hipster hordes of Rosenthaler Platz just down the road. This is the place to go for a tasty private dinner… and to take advantage of the leafy garden while weather still permits.

Naked Lunch | Anklamer Str. 38, Mitte, U-Bhf Rosenthaler Platz, Tel 030 3034 6461, Mon 12-16, Tue-Fri 12-16, 18-23, Sun 10-21.

Originally published in Issue #119, September 2013.