Aarti Mehta-Kroll enjoys coffee and handmade pralines in a glass-walled coffee house…
Berlin’s Königlichen Gartenakademie (Royal Gardening School) was originally built in 1823 by Berlin’s most renowned landscape architect – official gardener to the Prussian royal family - Peter Joseph Lenné.
Located adjacent to the Botanical Gardens, today it serves as a horticultural centre and gardening school where the green-fingered can take gardening courses, buy plants and accessories from Manufactum, or just enjoy the calming ambience.
Unless you’re shopping or taking a course, the best way to enjoy the academy is with a visit to Café Lenné, a glass-covered coffee-house originally constructed by Lenné, with recent modifications by landscape artist Gabriella Pape.
The café is a delightful surprise for those not expecting it. An inviting corridor lined with lively displays of botanical specimens leads to a light-drenched room furnished with white-painted iron chairs, tables with flowerpots as centre-pieces and waiters formally attired in white shirts and black ties.
Though the natural light that spills in through the glass windows is part of the appeal, patrons can be protected from it’s intense glare by mechanically controlled covers that the staff activate when it gets too bright. The pretty patio also has tall trees with shade should you want to enjoy your coffee with some fresh air and a garden view.
The clientele is what you might call ‘mature’ – older folks generally here to enjoy a coffee and conversation, though the restaurant also offers a decent selection of European wines and other alcoholic beverages, as well as drinks like rhubarb soda and an assortment of hot chocolates.
The menu, which includes breakfast and lunch options, is varied and decent, and features a selection of vegetarian options. All meats come from Neuland or similar, the fish is fresh and unendangered, and the fruit and vegetables are organic. The cake selection is certainly up to German standards. The coffee is roasted in Berlin and the ice cream specially made for the Café by Rosen Eiskrem.
On my first visit I tried the seasonal specialty, gnocchi with chanterelle mushrooms. This was delicious enough, but the second time I spotted an imported delicacy – Blühendes Konfekt.
Priced at three euros fifty, this sweet consists of a praline topped with a real flower that has been turned into candy.
The creator of these masterpieces is Michael Diewald, an Austrian with a passion for the outdoors who turned his interest in collecting and sampling the country’s flowers and herbs into a successful business.
With the approximate diameter of a ten-cent coin, the handmade praline was like nothing I had ever tasted before. The white flower on top of my candy was covered in sugar and therefore quite sweet; after my second (and final) bite, I paused to ponder over the flavor and unthinkingly had a sip of my coffee. The taste vanished instantly.
Initially disappointed, I then realised it was a blessing disguise: I now had a very good reason to return.
T 030 832 29 273
Open: April-Sept 10-19 Tue-Sat Sun 10-16. Oct-March: Tue-Sat 10-17.30.
About The Author
Aarti Mehta-Kroll has been a Berliner since July 2011. She is a freelance writer, editor, student adviser and manages the University of Edinburgh Alumni chapter in Berlin.