Local Knowledge: Berlin

Toby Meagher, gallery director of Michael Reid Berlin, talks us through his essential sights and restaurants of Berlin.

Street art

I’m often drawn to Berlin’s remarkable historical collections, even though I work in contemporary art. The Neues Museum, in particular, is full of Egyptian and classical treasures and the transformation by architect Sir David Chipperfield masterfully shows the bones of a city rebuilt. C/O Berlin is the leading photography gallery in Berlin, and another favourite.

I always send visitors to Auguststrasse in Mitte, at the centre of the contemporary gallery district I work in. At one end is Meine Bar: dimly lit, smoky, always with great music and an effortlessly cool atmosphere – easily my favourite place in Berlin.

Any excuse to celebrate I go to Pauly Saal. It’s formal by Berlin standards, and the food is unparalleled – modern German-Austrian cuisine with a constantly changing set menu. Try the pike-perch and Japanese artichoke with pistachio, sorrel and grapefruit for dessert. The Art Deco dining room is stunning, cleverly housed in the former gymnasium of an old Jewish girls’ school.

On the city’s southern side in Neukölln, I like Industry Standard, an unpretentious restaurant with natural wines and produce sourced from farms in Brandenburg – think bone marrow and wild mushrooms. Nearby is Nathanja & Heinrich, one of my go-to bars, with high ceilings and chandeliers.

Berlin starts slowly on Sundays and breakfast spots don’t open until 10am or 11am (a novelty for someone from Sydney). Bonanza Coffee Heroes in Prenzlauer Berg, my home suburb, is the standout for good espresso – with a newly opened roaster in Kreuzberg, too. My Sunday usually starts with a run in Volkspark Humboldthain. A massive World War II anti-aircraft tower sits half-buried in the centre; you can see the whole city from the top. Sunday afternoons are often spent wandering in Mauerpark. With sprawling markets, street food and live music, it symbolises the Berliner attitude: cheap and fun.

Also in Prenzlauer Berg is Kanaan, an Israeli-Palestinian eatery with the best hummus I’ve ever tasted. It’s the one place I take everyone who visits me in Berlin.

Toby Meagher is the gallery director at Michael Reid Berlin.

Related stories