London, United Kingdom
May 24, 2004
In terms of aesthetics, entering the establishment is like stepping back in time. The lavish combined effect of the curvaceous bar, large windows and mirrors, striking furnishings, vintage posters and glass chandeliers is quite breathtaking. However, despite all of the wonderfully preserved and almost overbearing Art Nouveau splendour on show, there is still a surprisingly cosy and intimate feel.
Unlike many so-called grand cafés elsewhere in Europe, it has pleasingly avoided stagnating into somewhere that is content to merely capitalise on a lovely interior and former glories, and has instead remained true to a Bohemian past. Although Lenin would perhaps no longer find the ambience conducive to planning a revolution there as he did all those years ago, it is nice to think that James Joyce would probably still enjoy drinking some potent brews there now.
The modern day patrons represent a refreshingly alternative side to a city that is usually associated with bankers and businessmen, as they are much more likely to belong to the local artistic or gay communities, which means that there is frequently a vibrant atmosphere. Aside from warm summer days, when the outside terrace is popular, it is often busy inside, which means that sharing one of the colourful marble tables with other customers is often necessary, but that is usually a good thing because of the generally friendly nature of the regulars.
The place is open daily from the morning right through to the night, and also into the early hours during weekends. The menu offers a variety of items that is suitable for such lengthy hours, from tasty breakfasts, light meals and bar snacks to good coffee and a wide range of alcoholic tipples, including cocktails. Prices are admittedly not particularly low, especially after midnight, but considering the relative fame, exquisite décor and prime location, they are not especially expensive either.
From journal Zürich - More interesting than might be imagined