If you walk through Treptower Park towards the Insel der Jugend, you cannot miss the Zenner House on the banks of the Spree. This imposing Neo-Renaissance building served as a grand guesthouse in the early 1900s before it was destroyed during the war. It was subsequently rebuilt by East German architects, but after Berlin’s reunion the building fell into decline: until recently it housed a multinational burger chain. With the opening of Zenner in June 2021, the site has been returned to its former glory as a riverside retreat with a beer and wine garden combining the traditional with the contemporary. Like the century-old original the expansive terrace seats 1500, but the food and drink options are very much modern and extend to two separate menus. The first selection is relaxed: think draught pale ale from the biergarten bar served with a perfectly-cooked Käsespätzle or a plate of Pommes – served not “rot weiß”, but with pico de gallo (tomato salsa) or truffle pesto. The second, more-refined menu includes tapas plates such as stuffed sweet potato with creamed spinach, sage, tomato, feta and pine nuts. These match perfectly with the wine list, which is substantial and focuses on Austrian and German bottles.
Whether you go low-key or fancy (or combine both) the cuisine from chef Robert Hilges offers a fresh twist on the German classics that were served to Zenner guests in times past. There’s beauty in the variety: you can drop in for a quick drink to break up your walk or boat ride, or make a full evening of it with a multi-plate dinner with sunset views over the river. As for entertainment, there is a program of live music and DJ sets such as this Friday’s Ceremony x Musikgarten (23.07.2021). Before you head off, don’t forget to seek out the hidden ice cream parlour and coffee stand for some treats to go. As for indoors, all of the buildings on the site are to be fully renovated by 2024, when we will finally be able to say: Zenner is back!
Text: Lottie Mac / Photos: Kateryna Firsova