Meet the Berlin bistro bringing a delicious new take on old-world Austrian cuisine to the city.
Taking the leap from PR and marketing, Marianne and Philipp jumped headfirst into a venture with heart: a bistro celebrating the duo’s shared Austrian heritage – and the food behind it.
Have you ever worked in the restaurant business before?
M: No, we’re total newbies. I worked in a PR agency before. We took the plunge!
P: I went to a cooking school when I was young, but then moved into political studies so my professional career went in a totally different direction. I think we’re managing quite well though – the roles have been divided very naturally. Marianne is responsible for all the operational stuff, while I take care of the marketing and promotion. But we both work as chefs in the kitchen. All the food you get here is cooked by us!
That’s pretty impressive! So what made you take the leap into the food business?
M: Since we met, we dreamed about opening a little restaurant together one day, in the future. You know, we thought we’d have a small seafood place on the Croatian coast when we were older and spend our retirement there. We really didn’t expect this dream to come true so soon [laughs]!
P: We needed a change and something new in our life – to have a job we feel passionate about and can really commit to. And having your own place where you serve food that you love felt exactly like this is. It’s a difficult business to be in – but it gives you a lot of satisfaction.
There are a lot of new and exotic restaurants popping up in Berlin right now. What made you choose Austrian cuisine? I’m pretty sure most people’s knowledge about Austrian food doesn’t go far beyond schnitzel…
M: That was the exact reason [laughs]. We’re both from Austria – we know the local food very well and we really do believe it’s hugely underappreciated. Austrian cuisine is so rich and diverse! Our culinary traditions go back to the times of the monarchy – they’re a reflection of all the countries which used to be a part of the Austrian empire. The influence ranges from the Czech Republic to Italy.
So what’s Stadtsalettl’s mission?
P: We want to focus on the best quality products from all regions of Austria and promote a modern take on Austrian culinary classics. The Austrian food industry is full of amazing and unique specialities – from dairy products and noodles to wines and chocolate.
Oh yes, tell us a bit more about these products.
M: Austria has a long tradition of producing great food – people celebrate the craftsmanship, experience and attention that goes into the process. A few times a year we do exploratory trips around the country, where we visit our old friends, but also try to discover new places, farms and local producers. We love it!
P: We create our weekly menu around these various specialities – and you can also buy a whole variety of them here, at the bistro. Some of them we’ve known, liked and used for a very long period of time. Some we’ve discovered only recently while working on our new dishes.
How about the space and the interior?
M: We looked for the right location for over year! We wanted to find a space that felt cosy and welcoming. The rest happened very naturally once we found the right location. And you know what? A lady who has lived in the neighbourhood for a long time visited us the other day and told us that there was a little shop selling local products and food specialities here in the 80’s as well!
P: Stadtsalettl is both a bistro and a delicatessen shop. We wanted our customers to see all the beautiful products we use and really make them conscious in that sense. Hence the Tylko shelf – we love how it exposes what Stadtsalettl is all about and shows the best of our selection. The rest is kept very simple – we want the shelf and the products to make the statement in the interior.
It seems like running the bistro has dominated your life – what do you do in your spare time (if you ever have some)?
M: [laughs] We try to create some sort of a work-life balance, but yes, it’s not easy. But we go on long walks with our dog. And we still really enjoy cooking at home. It relaxes us a lot. It’s such a different type of cooking than when we do it here, at the bistro. There is much less pressure and you can take time to explore new flavours and try things out. Those slow evenings and Sunday culinary brainstorm sessions are where some of the best ideas for our menus come from.
Stadt Salettl Bistro Dunckerstraße 10 Berlin, Germany
Interview and words by Lauren Memarian & Zuza Szczepecka Photography by Robert Ceranowicz