Monika Mueller-Kroll for NPR
New Orleans Haus will be celebrating Mardi Gras this Friday night beginning at 7:00 with live music and a special menu, including a fried catfish platter and King cake.
New Orleans Haus will be celebrating Mardi Gras this Friday night beginning at 7:00 with live music and a special menu, including a fried catfish platter and King cake. Monika Mueller-Kroll for NPR
With Mardi Gras rapidly approaching, the staff of New Orleans Haus in Kreuzberg is getting ready to celebrate in true Big Easy style: with live music and food.
The restaurant staff has been perfecting their recipe for King Cake the last two months in preparation for this Friday's Mardi Gras party.
The Berlin based band "Cyclown Circus" will be playing Dixieland jazz, and, between sets, two New Orleans music specialists from Berlin, Mohair Sam and Jimmy Trash, will DJ.
At the helm of all this planning is the restaurant's owner, Andrew Preble, a 25 year-old American who grew up in a small town called Abita Springs just north of New Orleans.
Preble moved to Berlin two and half years ago after traveling and studying in Argentina, Norway and Austria.
"I worked for the Berlinale, the Berlin International Film Festival, my first year, and then I, you know, wanted to stay in Berlin and they didn't offer a very good salary or benefits or anything, so then I thought, well, I would open a restaurant," Preble says.
But unlike other restaurateurs in Berlin, Preble wasn't a trained chef or a baker. He didn't go to culinary school, but he did know New Orleans food.
"The food that we have here is pretty simple New Orleans pub food or neighborhood type food. It wasn't anything complicated, just stuff that I grew up cooking in the kitchen with my parents and grandparents," he says.
He took over the lease from a closed down restaurant off Görlitzer Park last February. New Orleans Haus opened its doors a year go this March.
The restaurant specializes in traditional Cajun and Creole food from New Orleans: red beans and rice, crawfish étoufée, chicken and andouille gumbo, Creole jambalaya and cornbread.
Monika Mueller-Kroll for NPR
New Orleans Haus is located across from Görlitzer Park.
New Orleans Haus is located across from Görlitzer Park. Monika Mueller-Kroll for NPR
If customers aren't familiar with traditional New Orleans fare, Preble has included some historical background and personal stories for each dish on the menu.
In the dessert section, he uses his grade school teacher's recipe for pound cake and admits to not liking pecan pie until he tried his grandmother's version.
"The personal stories on the menu are just a way of educating people about the food, about the history behind the food, and I still feel like there could be more education there. I don't know how to do it better besides pictures, which I didn't really want to put pictures, although people don't know what a crawfish is here."
New Orleans Haus imports crawfish from Denmark via Louisiana. Preble says Scandinavians are crazy about crawfish and even have their own version of Louisiana crawfish boils. The restaurant's red beans come from India and their special hot sauce is imported from Louisiana.
In addition to food, Preble envisions his restaurant as a kind of New Orleans cultural center. In the evenings, the restaurant offers space for German classes and improv comedy.
"One of the reasons it's called New Orleans Haus is that I was kind of imagining a take on the old Amerika Haus or the Russisches Haus which were the old US Embassy and Russian Embassy cultural centers of East and West Berlin and naming it New Orleans Haus I really kind of wanted to be a New Orleans cultural center or gathering place."