Merkezi is one of Berlin’s alluring and charming hidden delights which you may have heard mentioned and praised but the existence of which you still somewhat doubt. Somewhere concealed within Kotti’s bustling labyrinth of restaurants and bars, you’ll find this peaceful and welcoming locale. Founded in September last year by Hannes Budweg & Mark Pennock, Merkezi is a recent addition to Berlin’s cultural landscape and describes itself as “a venue where Contemporary and Culinary arts Converge”. While Merkezi’s events often seem to pivot around such concepts as dinner clubs and food sharing, the breadth and wealth of their subject matter is seemingly endless.
Last week I was fortunate enough to attend Merkezi’s “Surprise Movie Night”, which is run by Parisian film journalist Anastasia Levy and takes place every Monday night from 7.30pm. Guests are greeted with a homemade batch of soup with bread, made by Hannes himself and are met by an international throng of Berlin-dwellers. Anastasia claims that she chooses lesser-known films, because she wants to allow for a sense of discovery. With films from all around the world and ranging across vast time periods, this small filmic experience offers a range and a spark that timetabled cinemas cannot boast. For this reason the film remains a secret until the opening credits allowing for a thrilling suspense! The Apartment directed by Billy Wilder was the choice for last week, a 1960s black and white movie, which puts modern romantic tragic-comedies to absolute shame. Its tagline is “Movie-wise, there has never been anything like “The Apartment”, love-wise, laugh-wise, or otherwise-wise!” and this is in no way a falsification. From a film perspective, the night was perfectly executed! All-in-all the night was both a cultural and culinary success.
Other weekly events include “Family Times” on Tuesdays – a dinner club accompanied by specially selected music from local DJs and Bands and “La Mansard Dinner” on Thursdays, which has been held on a rooftop in Kotti for two years previously, but has now found its permanent home at Merkezi. The latter is only available if you reserve in advance.
Food is not only celebrated in its cooked form! Budweg is also preparing for Merkezi’s very own Food market in April, where local food produce will be exhibited and sold. Furthermore, given the quality of the food, the atmosphere and the crowd which Merkezi has pulled in thus far, the Easter Brunch planned for the forthcoming Easter weekend is guaranteed to be going to be full of flavour.