Cafe Leopold, Vienna

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The Cafe Leopold is in the Leopold Museum, in the Museum Quarter of central Vienna. You don’t have to visit the museum in order to access the cafe – there’s an external stairway as well as a door leading in from the museum – but we do recommend a visit to the museum itself as it has an art collection including some incredible work by Egon Schiele. The museum is a fine sight at  night, with art projected onto its outer walls, as you can see above.

The cafe was pretty much full when we arrived at 4:15 with a mixed crowd of all ages. We’d been eating in traditional Viennese places for the previous four nights but this was very different and felt more like a relaxed bar or hip restaurant in downtown Toronto. The staff were young and joking around behind the bar, the music was Cuban/South American swing and the walls leading from cafe to toilets were covered in art and film posters advertising exhibitions and gigs. Here are some images to give you a feel for the place.

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We ordered a couple of drinks first – a minty, cool, refreshing Mojito for Lamia…

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…and a Long Island Iced Tea for me.

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It was a well mixed drink so despite there being four shots of alcohol in it there wasn’t a noticeable kick and could be drunk without lack of composure. The kick might have been absent but the effect was not, and it wasn’t long after starting drinking that I began to relax and feel refreshed. It had been a long four hours at the museum and I was more tired than I realised.

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The staff were friendly and spoke good English and our food came within ten minutes of us ordering. Whilst we waited we sank back into the chairs and logged onto the in-house free wi-fi, which was fast and easy to connect to.

We started by sharing a plate of falafel with hummus, olives and an orange-red cabbage salad.

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It was a large plate and could easily serve as a hearty lunch. The falafel was well fried, dense and tasty whilst the hummus was creamy, thick, subtle and not overly nutty. I could taste the chickpea easily and I liked that it wasn’t totally puréed, and that I could still enjoy the texture of the beans. The huge green olives in the centre of the plate were juicy and as for the other sides, the salad was crunchy and there were some grains to add texture to the dish and a light, herby, citrusy feel. Overall, a very nice starter.

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For my main I had the sweet potato curry with basmati rice and soya bean.

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The rice, served in a little bowl on the side, was fragrant and the sauce buttery. The sweet potato was soft and texture was added by the chickpea and carrot and the variety of beans. The sauce was halfway between authentic Indian and English Indian meaning a bit thicker than authentic but not oily or creamy like the English like it. The spice level was very mild with coconut, chive and coriander shining through and overall it tasted very healthy.

This dish confirmed for me that the Cafe Leopold has good vegetarian options, with both of these first two dishes being very tasty and of a good size.

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For her main Lamia had the cheeseburger with lettuce, tomatoes and chips.

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“I asked for it with no bacon,” said Lamia, “and that’s how it’s come. The burger is firm, substantial in size and delicious, a little chargrilled, very much like the sort I’d order at home in North America. I’ve really enjoyed the past few months of Greek and Italian food but it’s great to taste a real cheeseburger again. The fries are crunchy outside and soft inside, not too salty and the salad is a mix of rocket, baby leaf lettuce, sweet red onions and grape tomatoes with a light dressing. It’s a lovely burger. If any North Americans are looking for a taste of home, they’ll love this burger.”

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For dessert Lamia had the Viennese chocolate cake with whipped cream.

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“It’s a little dry but very chocolatey,” she said. “Quite nice, perhaps not gooey enough for me though.”

I had the chestnut cake.

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The chestnut was interspersed with sour cherry and had whipped cream on the side. It was a light cake and not bad at all, although to be honest both of our cakes didn’t taste homemade.

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For a final drink Lamia had the hot chocolate.

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She was served a hot frothy milk with a caramel chocolate cube next to it.

“I like this!” she said. “You dip the chocolate into the milk and let it melt. It tastes quite comforting, chocolatey and warm. Great for a cold day and with a unique take on what a hot chocolate drink is supposed to be like.”

I had the Ottakringer Pilsner.

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This is a local Viennese beer and is a very good, light pils. There are no surprises with an Ottakringer. I’ve drunk lots of it and it’s very good, every time.

If you’d like to discover more about the Cafe Leopold, please click here http://www.cafe-leopold.at/

There are lots of events happening at the cafe, so do check the website out. The main meals and drinks are well priced and satisfying and it’s a great place to rest up after a visit to this fascinating museum.

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