Results 1-4of 4 Reviews
Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
May 3, 2010
by wanderer 2005
October 30, 2008
From journal Great Pizza in Vienna?
by captain oddsocks
March 27, 2007
From journal Ein grosser Brauner, Bitte
May 26, 2004
Entering the Café Schwarzenberg, I’m greeted by such a kaffeehaus waiter, one who could easily pass for an Austrian version of Jeeves. He attentively waits as I give my order in labored German.
"Ein Einspänner, bitte." I’m encouraged that he seems to understand; no doubt he speaks flawless English but does me the courtesy of allowing me to mangle his language.
"Und... ein… Gemischter Salat." A curt nod, the ghost of a smile, and he glides wordlessly away. I lean back with a sigh.
A coffeehouse is an oasis of peace, a "place for people who want to be alone, but need company to do it," as kaffeehaus wit Alfred Polgar once put it. Much more than a place to drink coffee and eat pastry, a coffeehouse is the perfect place to read the newspaper, meet a lover, write a letter, or even hatch a political plot. Once you've taken a seat, it is yours for as long as you care to stay. The waiter will leave you alone yet is quickly summoned by a glance in his direction.
My salad and Einspänner – espresso mixed with milk and topped with whipped cream. - were both delicious. The waiter served them with a flourish, proud of his skill as he deftly balanced the silver coffee tray in one hand. Coffee in Vienna is invariably accompanied by a glass of water with a silver spoon balanced just so across the top. Always. You can depend on it.
In the booth next to me, a willowy young woman flips open her cell phone and begins a quiet conversation in Russian. I’m shamelessly eavesdropping, as I sip my einspänner, curious to see how much Russian I can remember. This conversation is easy; she’s giving directions to a friend who is coming to meet her. Her next conversation is in low and rapidly spoken French. No conversation is loud in a coffeehouse; instead, there’s a low buzz: the sound of the contented kaffeehaus hive.
The Café Schwarzenberg sits in the heart of old Vienna, smack on the Kärntner Ring. The Imperial Hotel lies just across the street and the opera house is only two blocks away. While it’s a traditional coffee house in every respect, it has made one concession to modern times and offers a separate room for non-smokers.
Outside, the traffic on the Ringstraße reaches its afternoon crescendo. Inside, I "kill time in order not to be killed by it," as Polgar once put it. And order another cup of coffee.
From journal Waltzing Off to Vienna