If one has completely internalized the principle of hospitality, then it is Alex Karl. The man with the thoroughly German-sounding name originally comes from Ethiopia, where he still travels regularly to buy spices for his Ottensener restaurant. He has been married for 22 years to Anna-Maria Karl, who runs the guest house of the University of Hamburg. Openness times two, so to speak. Incidentally, his marriage works as well as Alex Karl emphasizes with a wink, because he simply does everything his wife says. And for the last four years, he has been managing Karl’s Café & Weine, a pub for Ethiopian-Eritrean specialties.
But what does “directing” actually mean? Alex Karl cooks everything himself, he anecdotally explains the peculiarities of the African kitchen, he washes each visitor before eating with water from a pot on the square his hands and he comes again and again for a lively chat at the table.
As a starter, it serves juicy brown bread, prepared with olive paste and semi-dried marinated tomatoes. Other slices are coated with cottage cheese, which was mixed with Berbere, a spicy Ethiopian spice mixture (from 4.90 euros).
Really exciting – and very sociable – it is the main course. Everyone at the table opt for the Ethiopian dish Wot, which is served on a large plate. Underlay for wonderfully delicious portions of cooked vegetables, kale, chickpeas, lentils and sauces is the airy Injera. This slightly leavened flat bread is additionally served rolled on plates. A piece of plucked and clamped like a small shovel between the fingers, it replaces the cutlery while eating (which, however, is additionally served).
If you like, Alex Karl also provides you with tender chicken parts and hard-boiled eggs. Anyway, he always comes back with his bowls and offers a lookup. Vegetarian costs the Wot 9,50 Euro, in the meat variant 12,50 Euro. For accompaniment, the round of wine decides (from 4.90 euros per glass). But the real must-have drink at Karls is the coffee.
The beans are freshly roasted on a low flame. “The coffee is better than any anti-aging agent,” promises Alex Karl, which is why everyone ordered one (2.40 euros). Not, however, without ordering another piece of chocolate cake that Karl’s wife baked. And he goes to the house. Very hospitable!
Karls Café & Wines Keplerstraße 17a , opening hours: Tuesdays to Saturdays from 5 to 10 pm, reservations under T. 63 67 28 44 or T. 0171/124 74 97