Aarti Mehta-Kroll finds a chocolate Reichstag and a charming cafe at one of Berlin’s oldest chocolate shops…
It was back in 1863 that Heinrich Fassbender opened a confectionery store at Mohrenstrasse 10, whose chocolates would eventually be regarded as fine enough to supply the royal court. In 1918, Wilhelm Rausch, the son of a chocolatier, also set up a shop in Berlin that was so successful that he opened seven more – the business was later managed by his three children.
In 1999, these two Berlin based chocolate making families came together to become Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers at the Gendarmenmarkt. The business remains a family owned enterprise today with Jürgen Rausch currently in charge at the flagship store (Charlottenstraße 60), which overlooks the charming Gendarmenmarkt.
The first time I walked into the shop it was like entering Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Room, with chocolate versions of Berlin landmarks like the Reichstag and the Fernsehturm on display. However, unlike the kids in the movie, I wasn’t allowed to feast on these decorative treats – nor the molten chocolate volcano over in the corner.
There’s plenty of other not-just-eye-candy though. It’s hard not to be seduced by the row upon row of beautifully packaged pralines and truffles neatly arranged on the shelves; some containers are imprinted with an image of the Brandenburg Gate, making them a great present for friends and relatives living abroad.
You’ll probably notice the Rausch Plantagen Chocolate range, which has been in production since 2000, and comprises eight different chocolate bars. The cacao for each type comes exclusively from individual plantations in exotic locations like Trinidad, Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Madagascar and Papua New Guinea — and all suppliers are engaged in ecologically sound cocoa production and maintain the standard of quality outlined in the Rausch cacao manual.
Though the raw materials are sourced from around the world, the chocolates are manufactured locally at a factory in Tempelhof, which is open to visitors who can look through a glass wall to observe to production process. Bars of chocolate not your thing? Try the cakes. At the back is a glass display case containing sixteen different kinds that you can get packed up to take home.
And don’t forget the secret floor too – not a secret as such, but a facet of the shop that visitors tend to miss given their excitement with the ground floor goodies: the elevator will carry you to a café with intimate seating and large windows that overlook the famous domes of the Gendarmenmarkt.
Here you can enjoy the same cakes available in the store over a glass of tea, coffee or wine. A cup of hot chocolate can be a meal in itself, with 80% of one selection consisting of cacao. To make things interesting you have the option of adding ingredients like ginger, chili or rum to the mixture.
The café – frequented by a heterogenous mix of locals and tourists – has a friendly, warm ambience and makes a surprisingly great spot for an afternoon break – or even a romantic rendezvous, should you wish to make a convincingly sweet impression.
Mon-Sat 10-20, Sun 11-20
T: 030 2045 ext. 8440