With one of the best restaurant locations in town offering an incredible menu full of affordable Swiss delights both inside and on their huge terrace, Nola’s am Weinberg has naturally become a local’s favourite. We tracked down Stefan Schneck to ask him a few questions about how the restaurant came about…
You’ve got an amazing location perched on top of one of our favourite Mitte parks, the Volkspark Am Weinbergsweg. Did you look at many similar uniquely-placed locations before setting it up, or was it luck you came across it?
In 2002 when we started with Nola’s am Weinberg, I was actually not looking for a location. I was asked by someone to give advice to some friends of his who wanted to buy the venue from the government. When I found out what they were planning, I was instantly hooked and knew that I wanted to be more than just an adviser!
As Switzerland has a reputation for being expensive, was introducing your more-affordable yet incredibly delicious Swiss cuisine and changing this perception a challenge for you to introduce to the area?
It might look as if everything in Nola’s am Weinberg just happened, but we did not at all start with the intention of opening a Swiss Restaurant. Originally we wanted to cook fusion style.
The first winter was a very hard time for us, because we lost a lot of money in a very short time. At that time the Weinbergspark was without lights, had a lot of drug dealers at dark and was a very unfriendly place.
But at the end of February with the first sunny and warm (8°C) days, everything changed – our terrace was full and business was booming all of a sudden! So as 2003 was an exceptionally warm and sunny summer and we were able to recover from the financial disaster in the winter. But with the fog in the fall we were back to the bad days.
That was the moment I remembered a sunny day with fresh snow in our first winter: I had been staying on our terrace and was overlooking the park full with sled-riding kids and thought that it has the feeling like a Chalet somewhere in the Alps.
With that picture in my head, I decided to write a menu with classic Swiss dishes for winter, first of all fondue and raclette.
To my surprise the costumers accepted it instantly and so the only challenge we had was to make a summer menu. But Switzerland has influences from all around (Italy, France, Austria and Germany), so we had a big variety to choose from.
What’s the secret key to making an exceptional Rösti over a standard one?
We use potatoes not cooked too softly which are dried out and we then fry them in “Butterschmalz”. There is not much secret to it, but you need a good potato and a bit of time – in Switzerland everything always takes its time.
You’ve got a great wine selection at Nola’s. What would be a good wine pairing for a fondue?
The classic wine is a Fendant, which is as very dry white wine from the Chasselas / Gutedel grape.
Where do you like to eat out in Berlin?
I don’t just have one place where I like to go, there are just too many very innovative openings all the time, it’s really difficult to visit all the places I want to see!
One of my favorites at the moment is in Neukölln – the restaurant Industry Standard, very good kitchen and great service.
Another place I really love is Cordobar in Mitte which has one of the best combinations of good wine, food and very nice staff.
Stefan Schneck, owner of Nola’s Am Weinberg
Finish the following line: “For me, Berlin is….
…Like New York in the 1980s. The perfect mix of an exciting, fast changing city that still has kind of a laid back lifestyle. Whatever you are looking for, Berlin can offer it! The only thing I really miss are the mountains – but this is very personal.
Be sure to visit Nola’s next time you’re in north Mitte! Even when not hungry for their delicious rösti, light brunches or traditional Swiss dinners, their friendly service is just as accommodating even if you just fancy a beer on the terrace.
Nola’s Am Weinberg,
Mon – Sun
10am – 1am