Monday, January 23, 2006

Oh La La

About two years ago in Washington, word started circulating that the ambassador's wife was turning the basement of the residence into the "Berlin Bar," a sheek lounge in the spirit of the "Paris Bar" in Berlin. At the time, I had no idea what the Paris Bar was, but ended up being impressed with the red walls and mod black leather furniture that came together to create the "Berlin Bar."

Now living in Berlin, west Berlin no less, I decided it was time to visit the Paris Bar and see what all the hoopla was about. Was it really the west Berlin bastion of intellectual thought, coolness, snobbery and cigarette smoke that I had heard it was? To find out, I spiffed myself up in my coolest Berlin outfit (according to me) and headed off to meet a friend for dinner on Saturday night.

The entrance, with its neon red sign, does remind me of the sign leading to the Berlin Bar. Though the visual comparisons between the Berlin Bar and the Paris Bar seem to end there, my evening was very cool indeed. Old photos, a paper machete alligator, wooden African statues and other chochkies decorated the walls and ceiling. Smoke permeated everything (my clothes are still airing out on the balcony,) and groups of Berliners dressed in black sat together looking intellectually stimulated while enjoying a wonderful French bistro meal.

I had potato and leek soup and a delicious salad with warm goat cheese. Jude had the equally French Nicoise salad. While I can't comment on what others were discussing (I find it hard to eavesdrop in a foreign language), it was fun to catch up with Jude and talk about our respective fellowship experiences. She is on another Germany fellowship through the Free University of Berlin. Her hubby is a fellow Humboldt fellow.

The food, atmosphere and company were all great! I can definitely see what the Paris Bar has the reputation that it does. Though I won't be back until the spring, when the windows can be open so it isn't so smoky, the vibe was cool. I will be back:-)


At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Erin, I am confused. So, the Paris Bar is open to the public, but is Berlin. The Berin bar is in the basement of the residence and is not open to the public? So, how do you know whether the Berlin bar is or is not like the Paris bar? Please clarify. I am so glad that you had fun though! As for me, I was in your old hood this weekend visiting with Mittu and her family :) Take care, Anuradha

At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ugh, the Berlin Bar is silly. Had the misfortune of working at the latest Big Event (see my blog) and was (again) thoroughly underwhelmed by Fr. J-I and her silly little bar. Oh well. Glad to hear you're having a blast in Berlin. -Mango
p.s. What's this fellowship from Freie Uni you talked about? Can you email me the info?

At 3:16 PM, Blogger Erin said...

The Paris Bar is open to the public and we should go if you visit me in Berlin. The Berlin Bar isn't open to the public (though if it was maybe the German government could generate some revenue to help the economy.

I was there a couple of times for work functions. There is also a dinner table in the basement where the "peons" can grab a quick bite while the "bigwigs" meet upstairs. The chef always made something delicious for downstairs.

At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oooh, ok, I get it now. The Berlin Bar is in DC. Thanks for clarifying Erin :) Anuradha


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