Chic Dönerladen that bills itself as the world’s first purveyor of Döner bowls. In addition to a wide range of bowls, 027 serves modern interpretations of the classic Döner im Brot/Dürüm, as well as cocktails and desserts. But are they really doing something special, or is it all fluff?
Address: Kantstraße 138-142, 10623 Berlin (Charlottenburg)
Hours: Mon-Thu: 12pm-10pm; Fri & Sat: 12pm-1am; Sun: 1-10pm
There is a specific business model that has become particularly prevalent throughout the US, by which bars and restaurants will pour a lot of their resources into creating a hyper-polished, Insta-friendly atmosphere, complete with cool, interesting food and drink items that look great but offer little in the way of quality or taste. 027, with its ultra-modern interior and carefully crafted corporate brand identity, very much falls into this category.
027 prides itself on being the first restaurant in the world to offer the Döner bowl, a dish that seems as deep in the throes of an identity crisis as the city in which it is being sold. My qualm, however, is not with the Döner bowl itself, but, rather, with the aforementioned dressing up of menu items to make them seem like something more than they actually are. I can think of no better example than their “Ayran im Glas,” the name of which, could, and did, easily give one the impression that it is homemade, despite it actually just being a regular 7gün Ayran—the kind that comes in a white plastic cup and is sold by almost every Döner shop in the city—that has been poured into a fancy cocktail glass. Another example is their Dönerfleisch, which looks like the self-stacked stuff pedaled by the likes of Imren, Tekbir and Restaurant Pamfilya. In reality, it is the higher end cousin of the uncannily smooth, uniformly grayish-brown pressed stuff, in that it, too, is prepared by off-site production firm. This felt a bit misleading given 027’s motto, “Not your ordinary Kebab.” This Dönnoisseur is of the opinion that “Basically your ordinary Kebab…” is probably more apt.
While 027 does have its shortcomings, it is not without its strengths. They do prepare their sauces in house, which is, by all measures, a rarity in Berlin, and the place is undeniably sleek. Their selection is also a bit more interesting than that of most other Döner places in the city, though I question whether the Dö-bim-bap, the not-so-clever Turkish twist on the popular Korean dish, Bibimbap, was a necessary addition to the menu. For the vegetarians who cannot bring themselves to eat another Falafel or Halloumi im Brot, 027 offers a polenta Döner. They also offer a range of cocktails and beer, which is certainly more than can be said about probably any other Döner shop in Berlin.
On my visit, I ordered a regular Kalbfleisch Döner. The sauces were mild and pleasant, and the fried onions I added to my Döner created a nice contrast in texture. The meat, however, undeniably the crux of the Döner Kebap, unsurprisingly, failed to rise above “ordinary.” Overall, it was an unremarkable Kebab.
Though 027 is doing slightly more than your average bear in the way of self-prep and menu offerings, their Döner just barely outshines what you would get at any other Döner shop in the city. The overall experience and products that 027 so openly touts as extraordinary, indeed, contribute little, if anything, to Berlin’s dynamic culinary landscape. Personally, I do not ever intend to return to 027, but if you are looking for a slightly different Döner experience, albeit at a slightly higher price, it might be worth checking out.