Before we turned Vegetarian, we’d already been munching our way through meat-free meals at restaurants and at home in our own kitchen (where Franca reigns supreme) and during that time we’d tried some fantastic meals – some of them full vegan – but whilst we’ve only just begun to meet and embrace the world of meat-free alternatives and replacements such as tofu and seitan and the many meat forms they try to emulate – tofu burgers, seitan sausages and homemade vegan bacon no less – the last thing we thought we’d ever encounter is a vegan alternative to the late night revellers stable; The Doner Kebab
Berlin has an international reputation for being quite liberal in it’s attitude towards pretty much anything you could be in to; whether it’s all-night clubbing, street art or exhibitionism; so when the idea and philosophy of bio products, vegan and vegetarianism came together the people of Berlin not only embraced it at home, but also out on the streets in the shops and now the restaurants also.
With such competition between the hundreds of veggie restaurants and takeouts across the city, owners of new endeavours have to go that extra mile to provide something really different so as to set themselves apart and at Vöner in Berlin’s hip and happening Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district.
Since opening in 2007, Vöner has delivered something that sets the bar in terms of what can be done with a little thought and determination to create food that’s extra special and full of taste, creating something unique that not only captures the flavour of the food is trying to emulate, but also add to it, giving it a spice and edge all of it’s own.
The decor is simple and scattered around you’ll see little glimpses of the alternative culture that tends to come hand in hand with health food and veggie eateries. Most notable in the decor is the back facing wall as you come in where the Vöner staff conduct their magic in a setting usually found in standard kebab shops found in Europe and the world over – stainless steel surfaces and a rotating kebab.
In this small shop front there just a few tables and chairs so you might find yourself sharing with some unknown neighbours (though be sure to strike up a conversation if your game!), but it’s has a cozy charm that doesn’t feel too claustrophobic or suffocating.
One of the many perks of travelling as a pair is that when it comes to mealtime, you can choose two different dishes, eat halve, swap and enjoy something entirely different; so when it came to choosing we had the Vöner Kebab as the obvious choice – and because veggie burgers are our new thing – and a Wagenburger Original in a pita bread.
The burger is a cereal and vegetable mix and paired with a mound of delicious fresh lettuce, sliced German pickles with a lovely sharp bite and a mixture of sweet sesame sauce and ketchup. It was heaven.
The burger – though crispy on the outside – had a smooth texture with a lovely full flavour that had you can’t resist wanting to stuff in your mouth leaving none for your eating partner (cue mischievous stare). The sauce is a great mix of sweat and sharp, though I’d probably ask for a little less should we return again; add to that the superbly soft and fresh pita bread and this veggie burger is a superb delight.
Of course, the centre of the attention and main focus of our visit was the Vöner Kebab.
Sliced off the rotating ‘leg‘ of Vöner meat behind the counter, the thin slivers of yummyness are generously stuffed into a wrap with lettuce, cucumber and tomato, together with (again) finger-licking-ly-del-icious sauce.
Having eaten my fair share of awful kebabs after nights out with friends way back when, comparing the Vöner meat against the normal meat version was easy. Where the Vöner meat might lack some of the moisture of a traditional kebab, the Vöner more than makes up for with flavour and in fact could even be described as better tasting than the overly spiced kebab meat you’ll find on most street corners.
It’s fair to say that the veggie and vegan lifestyle is not one for the cheap, and whilst you can do things cheaply by making things yourself, when you’re on the road every day of the year you might not always have a fantastic kitchen with which to create a veggie masterpiece; therefore you might find yourself eating out more than you think.
Vöner is moderately priced for it’s food, with only the specialities pushing the price up a little more to around the €5-6.50 mark, but those are the exception. For the most part each item is marked at around €3.50-5.00 price point and considering that you’re getting a first class product full of fresh produce and also something a little unique, I think the prices are pretty fair.
We paid €5.00 for the Vöner kebab (which was huge and about the width of Franca’s arm) and only €3.80 for the burger which also was quite large, Immensely delicious and kept us full until much late into the day.
Boxhagener Straße 56
Facebook – Vöner
As far as we’re concerned, Vöner has one of the best meat-substitutes we’ve ever tasted, and should we return to Berlin again in the future we’d not think twice about making Vöner the first place we ate at whether we have to cross the city to get there or not.
It’s cozy-ness, the feeling of community and – above everything else – the fantastic Vöner kebab make for a brilliant an unmissable take out meal for the veggie, vegan and food-curious connoisseur out there.