What is brunch? For Jacques, the sophisticated Frenchman from a classic Simpsons episode, “It's not quite breakfast, it's not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end.” For many chefs, it's a tiresome slog of Eggs Benedict and bottomless mimosas. But for Two Trick Pony, it's a blank slate.
“ ...a light-flooded former Kneipe nestled next to the Südstern church...
Perfectly poached eggs and wilted Swiss chard atop toasted sourdough, sprinkled with walnuts and showered in chili butter? Brunch. A psychedelic-looking take on kedgeree featuring beet-red rice pilaf, smoked mackerel, horseradish crème fraiche and sweet Scandi-style pickles? Also brunch. "Tomato tonnato", wherein sliced tomatoes are smothered in the tuna-anchovy-caper sauce more commonly seen on veal? This too is, why not, brunch. The common thread: bold yet comforting flavors, a nod towards London, and a lot of heart.
“ The mother of all shitty timing? Jein.
The UK capital was where owners Jason Starmer and Gary Young met and married, and where Starmer encountered chef Nathan Perrin, while both were working at the acclaimed Spanish/North African restaurant Moro. Disillusioned by Brexit, the couple fled to Berlin in the hope of starting their own café, and, after landing a space – a light-flooded former Kneipe nestled next to the Südstern church – beckoned Chef Perrin to fly over and join them. They found a coffee supplier (Markthalle IX's Vote) and developed a menu of creative, beautifully composed dishes meant to be lingered over. And they finally flung open their doors... in March 2020.
The mother of all shitty timing? Jein. Having one's opening overshadowed by a global pandemic isn't exactly an auspicious start for a restaurant, but with no waitstaff to furlough and no established reputation to maintain, Two Trick was better-positioned than most to make the pivot to takeout. From their window, they sold hand-held dishes suited to our new reality: savory pies, sausage rolls and grilled cheese, all filling, fuss-free and fabulous. The name, which Starmer had come up with years ago back in London, turned out to be a prophecy. The Pony had found its second trick.
The crew carried that momentum past the pandemic. The pies had to go once the sit-down restaurant reopened, alas – and so did Perrin, though many of his staples remain on the menu to this day. But the founders' original vision was strong enough that the brunchers kept on coming. And they never really stopped. These days, it's hard to remember a time when the stretch of pavement at the head of Bergmannstraße wasn't packed to the gills every weekend. (They recently extended opening hours to 7 days a week, so book yourself a leisurely post-Berghain brunch on a Monday morning if you want to avoid the hordes.)
If you're lucky enough to snag a table, you'll be treated to some of Berlin's most genuinely nice service along with your porridge (a signature dish, and anything but boring with its melange of fresh and dried fruits and nuts doused in honey, tahini and smoked rapeseed oil). Carnivorous Brits looking for streaky bacon and black pudding will be in heaven here, but so will vegans craving a Caesar salad and wordly eaters who think dukkah is the new za'atar. For all its creativity, this is people-pleasing food, from a crew who's made pleasing people their business. All it's missing is the slice of cantaloupe at the end -- but the divinely moist coconut cake more than makes up for it.