For the past couple of years I’ve been keeping a list of places to visit in Lisbon based on recommendations I find on the internet or traveller’s tales. Museums, theatres, miradouros, restuarants, bars and cafe’s; all are noted should I find a good review. I’d noticed not one but several glowing reviews of Kaffeehaus so made it a priority visit.
Situated on the road beside the Chiado Museum ( Rua Anchieta 3) right near São Carlos theatre, Kaffeehaus is in the centre of Lisbon’s classiest area. Whilst it lacks outside space to sit, inside the atmosphere is friendly, airy and laid back. Set up by two people from Austria, Kaffeehaus is a Viennese treat in the heart of Portugal.
My first visit was early afternoon on a Wednesday. Whilst I’d already planned to hunt out the cafe, I actually stumbled upon it whilst taking a wander round Chiado’s side streets. I entered gratefully as it was quite hot outside and I was feeling hungry.
Inside, the room has a minimalist feel to it. The chairs are beige, tables black and the walls spartan aside from one which is covered in Vienese posters. The colours chosen however make the place feel airy and comfortable rather than austere. I could quite happily sit here for hours and imagine that when they aren’t too busy, people probably do.
The waitress, who I assume is also from Vienna, is really friendly. Two German men come in and she chats happily to them. She has that natural air of someone who genuinely likes to be around people and is conscious of making everyone feel welcome. The place is empty apart from us but it’s early afternoon in the middle of the week. Jazz music plays softly in the background.
I order a greek salad and a coffee which comes in at around 9 euro’s. The menu is simple but looks great. There are a variety of toasties and salads and specials are written on the chalkboard behind the bar. I notice apple strudel is also on the menu. Mmmm! Whilst waiting for my food I peruse the range of multilingual-newspapers and magazines. I go to take one and find myself fumbling to remove it from the wooden hanger it’s placed in. Feeling a bit silly I put it back but later notice that when someone else comes in they simply help themselves to the paper hanger and all and take it to their table. I note that for future reference.
My food and coffee arrives and looks fantastic. I text my best friend back in England:
“I feel so cosmopolitan. I’m in a Viennese cafe in the heart of Lisbon eating Greek salad!”
I can honestly say that it’s one of the best Greek Salads I’ve ever had. The salad leaves were fresh and crispy, the cheese fresh and smooth, the dressing light and in just the right quantity, plump olives and toasted bread on the side. The coffee here is good too. They serve it on a little tray with a small glass of water. I’m not sure why and I haven’t seen that done before but I’m grateful for water to drink on a hot day. After finishing my meal I have no sense at all that they want me to rush away so I sit writing my thoughts and taking photos and watch the world pass by outside.
Two days later I decide to check out the apple strudel so found myself back in Kaffeehaus. The waitress recognises me from my previous visit. She’s taking her break and chat’s a little. She knows some English and some Portuguese so between the two languages we talk a while. I mention I had seen a video of Kaffeehaus (see below) on the internet and she tells the owner who is featured in the video. He’s surprised and pleased that they already have glowing reviews on the net and I tell them they are about to get another
Owner Christoph tells me that on Sundays you’ll find it extremely hard to get a seat. They run a brunch menu at the weekend and apparently people queue outside the door! Also it’s worth noting that Kaffeehaus has a wonderful range of beers, wines and spirits and at the weekends they become a sleek bar open until 2am. Weekdays see them open until midnight.
Despite my initial quest for Apple Strudel, the range of delectable looking cakes at the counter catch my eye. I plump (no pun intended!) for the strawberry cheesecake. Turns out the cheesecake is delicately flavoured with lemon and is creamy and rich. The biscuit is crunchy and not too sweet and the strawberries at the peak of ripeness and flavour. I savour every mouthful and promise myself a lot of salad when I get back to England!
Whilst my love is for Lisbon and Portuguese culture, I have to say I adored this Viennese offering. My overall impression was that if I lived in Lisbon this would definately be one of my regular haunts. The food is excellent but the lasting impression is the friendliness of the staff.