Vienna’s second district is one that I just cannot keep up with. Though I’ve barely touched on it here, it is well represented on my list of must-visits. There are so many lovely places that have opened up across the canal in recent times that I feel like I could spend numerous weekends over there and still not even make a dent. When I began this blog, I wrote how something was happening in Vienna. This is still very much the case, but something is also happening in Leopoldstadt. Big time. The New York Times wrote about this nearly two years ago in an interesting article called “A Viennese District is Reborn”. Were the article to be written again today, it would be less about the matter of being reborn and more about the lovely ways in which the newly-born has grown. Meet Cafe Ansari.
Opened just this summer by Nina and Nassar Ansari, owners of Madiani on Karmelitermarkt, Cafe Ansari is located on the most wunderschön little square, one with lovely touches of old cobblestone and looming majestic trees. Serving Georgian cuisine, the restaurant has a bit of exoticism and a touch of elegance— a perfect recipe if you ask me.
I recently visited for brunch with friends. The Saturday morning we chose was the stuff Viennese autumnal dreams are made of. Cobalt blue skies overhead, the crispest, cleanest air, and the sound of the first fallen leaves crunching underfoot.
The interior of Cafe Ansari is splendid, really. Large windows create dramatic shadows that spill across the canvas of the restaurant’s long and gorgeous dining room. With oak floors, communal tables, subdued lighting and stunning tile work—architect Gregor Eichinger has created a place with such craft, care, and an understanding for design. You’ll gladly order another coffee or drink to prolong your time in this delightful space.
Aesthetics aside, the food here is just as exquisite and served with the most beautiful tableware, I must add. Our selections included:
Tea. What a pretty pot.
Orange juice. What a dainty water glass on the side.
Coffee galore, oh so necessary.
Oatmeal with honey and toasted almonds.
A spinach omelet, bacon added.
A soft-boiled egg and soldiers, chives on the side.
A fruit, yogurt, and granola parfait.
So about that extra coffee…
Served with fresh bread from Joseph, everything was delicious and enjoyed by all. (We were a group of seven.) Though I had read online that the service would leave much to be desired, I must say that we were served by an attentive and friendly staff. Looking back, my friends and I actually stuck with rather traditional breakfast choices. Creatures of habit, I suppose. Had we ventured in the direction of the cuisine for which this restaurant is known, we could have enjoyed things like Adscharisches Khatschapuri, a Georgian specialty that is a cheese pastry served with a fried egg. Or we could have had warm pita bread with hummus and pomegranate seeds. Had we been there for dinner we could have had rolled eggplant stuffed with walnuts and pomegranate seeds. Or a red beet salad with pine nuts. Or calamari with an avocado dip. Or beef cooked with apricots. Couscous and sweet potatoes on the side.
Next time. Which I am oh so convinced there will be.