Alexander Thiel: where to eat classic German cuisine

Having cooked at both Barrafina and Beaufort House, as well as his own restaurant in Berlin, Alexander Thiel is now executive chef at the German Gymnasium in London where he has relaunched the first-floor space as a temple to home-cooked German cuisine. With a heavy emphasis on the seasonal underpinning of German cooking, he turns out delicate plates of soused herring with apple, vast Wiener schnitzels and delicious spätzle. We talked to him about the best places to eat the classics of German cuisine

White asparagus  

When it’s in season, almost every restaurant in Germany – particularly in Berlin – will have a special, separate asparagus menu. It is such an iconic dish that sometimes even the Greek restaurants will have an asparagus menu. I like to go toPrater in Prenzlauer Berg, which has a huge beer garden terrace as it’s perfect for meeting friends and making the most of the white asparagus season.  

Prater, Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin; prater-biergarten.de

White asparagus at Schoenbrunn, Friedrichshain, Berlin  

Schweinefilet in morchelrahmsauce  

This dish of free-range pork fillet with morel sauceis very popular throughout the German-speaking world and one of the best I’ve ever tried was in Switzerland at the Hotel Handeck, which is at the foot of the Grimsel Pass in a particularly beautiful part of the Alps. When I was young, I did summers working there during the morel season and the key to this dish is to get super-fresh mushrooms and pair them with excellent quality pork.  

Hotel und Naturresort Handeck, Guttannen, Switzerland; grimselwelt.ch

Hotel und Naturresort Handeck, Guttannen, Switzerland


Spätzle are Swabian noodles and they’re one of the key side dishes in German cuisine. I learned to make them at Hotel Seehof in Baden-Württemberg. It looks out on the beautiful Lake Bodensee, which has borders with Switzerland, Austria and Germany. When I worked there, we would have more than 250 customers on the weekends, which meant I spent a lot of time at my wooden board, cutting the noodles the traditional way. I went last year, and its spätzle is still the best.  

Hotel Seehof, Immenstaad am Bodensee, Germany; seehof-hotel.de

Hotel Seehof, Immenstaad am Bodensee, Germany

Rinderroulade (slow-braised beef roulade)  

Rinderroulade is a slow-braised beef roulade, and nobody does it better in Germany than my old friend and sous-chef Frank Heelemann, who is now chef at Berliner Republik in Mitte. The restaurant has a beautiful terrace and it’s right on the river Spree, close to Friedrichstrasse, which used to be the dividing line between East and West Berlin. It’s a beautiful area with a very interesting history.  

Berliner Republik, Mitte, Berlin; die-berliner-republik.de

Wiener schnitzel 

One of my favourite restaurants in Berlin is Schoenbrunn, which is situated in a beautiful park in Friedrichshain. Schoenbrunn does German/Austrian cuisine and there’s nothing better than sitting on its lovely terrace in the warm sun eating white asparagus, hollandaise potatoes and Wiener schnitzel. It’s just beautiful. 

Schoenbrunn, Friedrichshain, Berlin; schoenbrunn.net

Schoenbrunn, Friedrichshain, Berlin


Tafelspitz is slow-simmered beef cooked in broth, which at the German Gymnasium I serve with apple horseradish cream, root vegetables and creamy spinach. It’s based on an Austrian dish and it’s one of my favourites. The key to tafelspitz is to simmer it very slowly. You can’t rush it. The stock needs to be crystal clear in the end. The best place to eat it in Berlin is at an Austrian restaurant called Jolesch, located in the very diverse Kreuzberg neighbourhood. It’s got a beautiful setting with a very nice terrace outside and the service is excellent.  

Restaurant Jolesch, Kreuzberg, Berlin; jolesch.de

Try Alexander’s cooking at the German Gymnasium, 1 King’s Boulevard, N1C 4BU;  germangymnasium.com

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