As the nights really start to draw in and December looms on the horizon, my thoughts often go to Vienna . Mrs. SF and I are frequent visitors there in December – Mrs. SF loves the Christmas markets and I (quelle surprise) love the food and drink, especially the wine (not going this year regrettably).
Vienna is one of my favourite cities in Europe, if not the World, and among its many and varied delights is its kaffeehaus culture.
The kaffeehaus has been ever present in Vienna since not long after the Turks were defeated in a battle that broke their siege of Vienna in 1683 and left behind (as part of a huge amount of booty recovered from their abandoned camps) sacks of coffee beans.
They are a home from home for the Viennese – a place you can pop into for a cup of coffee (and an apfelstrudel or sachertorte or more) and what that coffee buys you is the right to stay as long as you like. Sit back with your coffee and read a book, one of the myriad of newspapers available or simply watch the world go by (great places to people watch). The Viennese kaffeehaus provides for the chance to step out of the rush of modern day life and relax.
This brings me to Wally’s Kaffeehaus, an attempt to bring this most Viennese of institutions to Cardiff.
Sitting up a set of stairs at the back of the rather lovely Wallys’ deli (a Cardiff institution in itself if ever there was one), it seems its presence can be missed by some as they browse amongst the deli delights on offer. A friend’s mum has been a regularly visitor to the deli for many years, but was apparently unaware of the Kaffeehaus above it. I did point out to my friend the preponderance of signs in the deli as to the kaffeehaus’ existence above (and got a rolling of the eyes in response).
Inside it may not have the baroque charm or grandeur of places like Café Central or (my favourite) Demel in Vienna, but it is a nice enough spot for a coffee, cake or something more substantial. For those who wish to while away some time over a coffee, they have the rack of newspapers that is an essential part of any kaffehaus worth its salt.
It makes a perfect lunch spot for J and I, as it is an easy walk from the office and has the benefit of allowing me to pick up some goodies from the deli on the way out. I have a unheathly obsession with their cheese kabanos
and don’t get me started on their biltong.
The menu centres on a wide variety of open sandwiches, named after Austrian towns or regions, meat and cheese platters and, that oh so Austrian food item, the wurst/sausage (seemingly every street corner in Vienna has a sausage stand)
Salads and seasonal soups are also on offer.
I went for the frikadellen (a German meat patty/flattened meatball, which I always think sounds like a German expletive – stub your toe “oh frikadellen hell” or perhaps more apt here “this is frikadellen delicious”) and frankfurter combo (£6.95).
The Germans and Austrians really don’t allow for any mucking about when it comes to meat products. Both the frikadellen and the frankfurter (the latter a bit of a whopper in size,) were of excellent quality and nicely complimented by emmental cheese and German mustard. Add to this a pile of good saurkraut, a nice dill pickle and curry ketchup (tasted like a slightly more spicy brown sauce than usual) and I had a very nice and filling lunch
The revelation here was the pretzel roll. Soft, but with a lovely chewy texture, it was as good a roll as I have had in a long time. Perfect as a vehicle for the frankfurter I thought (hoping can buy in deli, but couldn’t find any in store or on website).
J went for “wurst aufschnitt” (£8.50 for 1, £14.95 for 2), which comprised of a plentiful array of sausage, ham, pâte and salami, as well as bread, olives and a balsamic onion. On looking at this item on the menu and the picture of it I took, the advertised feta stuffed pepper(s) seemed to be missing (maybe you only get them if go for the £14.95 one?)
Any self respecting kaffeehaus has to have cakes and whilst we did not partake the selection here looks pretty good
The Sachertorte and Black Forest cherry slice looked particularly enticing.
My conversation with J was akin to this “It’s a kaffeehaus so you have to have a coffee , right!”, J “Mineral water for me, please” me ” Oh for frekadellen’s sake!!!”
I went for a coffee and they have a wider and interesting selection of Austrian classics.
and some seasonal oddities (never seen the appeal personally of a pumpkin latte, cardamom laced hot chocolate on the other hand – oooh!)
Being a bit of a sci fi nerd I am always drawn in a kaffeehaus to melange (£2.65) on the coffee menu. Sounds very exotic to me (do they have little makers out the back I wonder).
In reality it is a double espresso with frothy milk (no added Spice). A kaffehaus tradition is every coffee comes with a glass of water. On previous visits this has come with the coffee, but I had to ask this time. Hopefully an omission rather than a change in approach.
There is also an interesting, if short, selection of booze.
Slovenian (a very up and coming wine area) wines make up the house offering, with couple of Austrian favourites in the form of a gruner veltliner and a blauer zweigelt (assume the menu has this wrong as zweigeld, as otherwise I have never hear of the grape – bit rich mind me, as the typo king, pointing out a typo!). Both interesting grapes from a good producer (in the form of Lens Moser) and very nicely priced (in deli they are £10.95 retail, so very fair mark up being applied here).
The beers available also offers a interesting choice.
As I mentioned at the start, Vienna is one of my favourite cities and Wally’s kaffeehaus always reminders me of why I love it so much (food and drink wise at least). Time to start planning a trip for next year methinks.
Would I go back? definitely – cracking little spot for a coffee or a bite to eat.
If you haven’t tried it yet, I would certainly recommend giving Wally’s Kaffeehaus a “Viennese” whirl.
Address: 38-46 Royal Arcade, Cardiff, CF10 1AE
Tel: 029 2022 9265
Website: click here