THE SIXTH FLOOR
A past life
It started off quite pragmatic. In 1929, KaDeWe opened its “Große Imbisshalle” or “Big Snack Hall” on the sixth floor. Modelled after American examples, KaDeWe’s food area quickly became the heart of the store. Flaneurs, neighbours, travellers and celebrities alike met between its confectionery and wine department. Famous German actor Harald Juhnke liked to drink his beer here, as might have Vladimir Nabokov. In his Berlin years, the poet, who wrote virtuously about food but could hardly prepare an egg, was a frequent visitor of KaDeWe.
The Berlin mélange
Die Sechste (“The Sixth“) is not only one of the largest food departments in the world. It’s also Berlin’s largest restaurant. The city’s different cuisines fuse here. You will find oysters and champagne, pickled hering and Königsberger Klopse, truffle pralinés and raw food bowls. Variety is key and walking distances are short. The curved oyster bar is a classic: blue lighting at the top, marble at the bottom. In between: mountains of ice that cool champagne and oysters. 500 lobsters (immortalised elsewhere in oil paint by Delacroix and on couture dresses by Schiaparelli) are sold at the fish counter each week. Just a few steps away, chefs prepare Neapolitan-style pizza (baked in 90 seconds, at 480 degrees) and roast organic chicken (the latter is best paired with a locally brewed craft beer). There’s Japanese sushi and sashimi, bouillabaisse and antipasti, fresh herbs and vegetables from Thailand, vegan food and potatoes of all colours, shapes and sizes. At KaDeWe, dining and food shopping always went side by side. Shop first, then reward yourself with an exquisite bite, or the other way around.
Although KaDeWe’s delicatessen area may be known all around the world, it’s also a world in its own. It’s deeply rooted in many Berliners’ lives. Some employees have been working here for over 20 years and some guests have been coming for even longer. People know each other. The atmosphere is familiar thanks to open kitchens. Many friendships have developed over the years. Meet you at the Oyster bar after work on Friday? Perhaps an almond bar at Daluma before hitting the gym? Everyone meets on the sixth floor. Berliners come from all over the city, visitors from all around the world. It’s a place where everyone can afford a small – or big – piece of luxury.