Peggy Schatz is impressed by a homey Schöneberg deli and cafe…
“Feine kost is a German wordplay that means great food, but sounds a bit like gourmet food,” says Kirstin Keitel. ”For me, great food is about natural, down-to-earth ingredients. An apple from my garden can be just as delicious as anything else…”
Lina Rothenberger was the name of Kirstin’s grandmother and a self-sufficient farmer from southern Germany. She has posthumously lent her name to this small, friendly delicatessen in Schöneberg, set up by Kirstin after working for 20 years in hotels and studying Applied Social Sciences.
Kirstin wanted to set up something herself that allowed her to interact with regular, local customers, and her grandmother had always been a role model for puting simple, decent foodstuffs back at the heart of everyday life.
Renting a small corner store in Schöneberg, she revived old links to producers in southern Germany as well as setting up a few new ones, developed event concepts, and worked on her own recipes as well as adopting a few.
Morphing into a café and deli/shop, Lina Rothenberger has been around for four years now. The interior, with its pastel-coloured floral carpet and nicely thrown-together furniture that includes a couple of tiny tables and cute little seats, feels very homey.
Jar shelves have been made out of old window-frames, the vegetable racks are reincarnated wooden crates. A bay window allows pleasant views onto the verdant hedge and potted plants outside.
The bustling granddaughter gets her stock of ideas and recipes from her favourite cookery books, gourmet magazines, and food-blogs. Piles of cookery magazines lie in the bay window, and you can plonk yourself down with a cup of tea or coffee – or a glass of wine – and leaf through them as long as you want to.
Customers can choose from a new vegetarian and new meat or fish option every day.
The shop’s products, both those available to buy and those she uses, are from the Bengelmann butchers in Ellwangen and the village cheesemongers in Geifershofen (both in Swabia), as well as organic producers and sellers from around Berlin.
Kirstin supplements her daily menu of soups and cakes with fun little events and special extras for her guests.
Wednesdays, for example, you’ll find Maultaschen (Swabian-style ravioli) on the menu, while Saturday in the summer is picnic day and in autumn is for Saturday roasts.
On the subject of picnics, if you let Kirstin know two to three days in advance, she will prepare a well-filled and delicious picnic basket for a day’s outing somewhere.
She also puts on supper-club style events from time to time, as well as themed weeks with guest chefs – including a recent one from Brittany in France.
Berlin is pretty busy with cafes and fine food delis, but Kirstin Keitel has made something that’s more thoughtful and intimate than most. Long may her family traditions last.
Lina Rothenberger Feine Kost und Lebensmittel
Open: Mon – Fri 10-20; Sat 10-16