ToFoodies x Otto’s Berlin Döner
Long, long ago, in Summer 2015, I reached out to Nancy Chen in a desperate attempt to sample her new joint venture Otto’s Berlin Döner with her Mansion and Foundry family: Konrad Droeske, Matt Eckensweiler and Thomas Masmejean. Not only did I want to post their impossibly photogenic food on @tofoodies, but the idea was to write an accompanying article that would be a centerpiece for the launch of tofoodies.com. After setbacks with digital designers of all kinds and I FINALLY can share this gloriousness. Apologies for the delay Nancy and co.- we made it! …But as we now know, Otto’s Berlin Döner did not need my help. Beloved in its neighbourhood of Kensington Market, the love extends all over the globe and has landed them accolades like being the #1 “Best New Cheap Eats in Toronto for 2015” on BlogTO. It would be a disservice to let pretty food pictures, great notes and a mostly written article go to waste, and I have been back many times since so I can assure the same quality in 2016. From the beer selection to the late night operating hours (“A proper doner, you should be able to get it late into the night, and that’s how we enjoyed them”- Nancy on her Berlin travels + late night eats favourites), everything has been curated with purpose. Even their washrooms come with a light show that perfectly aligned itself for a Hotline Bling recreation contest at the height of the song’s popularity. After ordering up a nice cross-section of the menu, we dove in immediately by eating, dissecting the differences between “döner” and “donair” (the Halifax variety) and pondering the benefits and potential drawbacks of working with friends. In this case, it’s not so much a thing. They divide and conquer, whether that means figuring out the best cut of lamb, engaging customers online or perfecting a currywurst sauce so that even ketchup-haters can enjoy it.
First up in the “high fast food” line up was the lamb and veal doner. Immediately, I noticed the crispiness of the outer bread/pita/doner against the fluffiness of the inside. The meat is always tender, evenly spread and I picked up a hint of parsley and the harisa spicy sauce within the first bite. Upon further inspection, I see a bright fuchsia spice and learn that is it sumac (note to self: buy sumac). Did social media play a factor in selecting the look of a stunning, colourful doner flayed open on a stand? The answer is definitely, and it works. On the health tip was the lamb and veal doner teller. The bed of couscous was perfectly cooked, dotted with chickpeas and loaded with the same freshness of toppings- tomato, cucumber, leaf lettuce, onion. My personal favourite- and a welcome reminder of a previous trip I took to Berlin- was the currywurst with fries. The sauce is just the right spicy and sweet, while the fries were crispy and help up amazingly to a hefty sauce. Better late than never. Run, don’t walk to Otto’s Berlin Döner. Or hey look, in 2016 they deliver!