When you think of museum cafés, you don’t often think “swank”. However, that is not the case with the café at the National Gallery of Art in Copenhagen. With towering glass windows offering beautiful views of the Østre Anlæg park, this café imbues modern Danish art & minimalist design. The unconventional bright green tables and chairs mark a collaboration between artist Bjørn Nørgaard and designer Peter Lassen of the Montana Furniture Company. Continuing the minimalist theme, each table is topped by only a porcelain vase with a single fresh flower.
Chocolate Mousse with Dried Rose Petals
In addition to these special chef creations, there is a daily buffet that will not disappoint. It features salmon, herring, roast pork, & ham paired with a selection of salads, fruits, and cheeses. Save room for a café latte and a chocolate truffle.
The Danish Version of Coffee & Donuts
In typically Danish fashion, this café offers modern cuisine in a sleek, yet cozy, environment. Velbekomme!
Tucked away in the Kleinbasel neighborhood of Basel, the Union Restaurant is a visual delight of trompe l’oeil. Famed Swiss architect Aurélie Blanchard lined the walls, tables, and even the light fixtures with copper to create an effect of constant motion. The food is classic American with a twist, and diners eat family-style at long, oak tables. Locals, immigrants, expats, and students alike frequent the adjoining bar to enjoy old school cocktails.
The best bacalao in Madrid – since 1860 – can be had at Casa Labra, tucked down a side street just off the Puerta del Sol in the center of Madrid. Order your cod just inside the door and then pop over to the bar for a beer to go with it. Be prepared to stand in line, but you won’t be disappointed!!
Ok, so everyone knows about the Belgian waffle. I can attest to their goodness…and the fact that a waffle in Belgium is very different from one in the U.S. The most notable difference is that in Belgium, they are made with yeast, and rather than some kind of faux strawberry topping and non-dairy (gnarly) “whipped cream,” the waffles are left nearly naked — simply sprinkled with a bit of powdered sugar. But I digress. Let’s get on to the crêpes. Yes, go have the waffle…it’s kind of a “must do” when in Belgium. But then head to the Bar Du Matin for their Sunday Brunch in which they celebrate the crêpe. I recommend the “Barry White” (powdered sugar) or the “James Brown” (brown sugar). But if you’re after something savory, there is the “Fellini” (tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil, and mozzarella) or the “Clint Eastwood” (ham & cheese). Whatever you fancy, the Sunday “Festival de Crêpes” will soothe your soul…as will the mimosa that accompanies them.
But there’s more to Bar Du Matin than the crêpes. Each Tuesday night, there is what we in the U.S. would call a “drinking game”…but this is a version that is more reminiscent of Mrs. Robinson than Bluto, and is based on the theme of a specific cocktail. And then there is the music scene, which is fab & ecclectic. On Thursdays, there’s live music…from reggae to soul to jazz to hip-hop to pyschic blues to funk…whatever your flavor, you’ll find it here. And on Fridays & Saturdays, dance the night away (à la Leo Sayer) to rockin’ dj sets. And then finally, we get back round to those Sunday crêpes…just what you need after a boozy Saturday night!
Cocktails in Amsterdam? Of course! But there’s a new way to do it – the Urban Cocktail High Tea at Vesper. After a morning of shopping in the trendy Noordermarkt (foodies will love it on Saturdays while procurers of kitsch should browse on Mondays), stop by Vesper and spend a boozy afternoon with friends. The expert bartenders will serve cocktails (from a teapot, no less) in tea cups that come complete with stems as a play on traditional martini glasses. In between raspberry mimosas or cucumber martinis, you can nosh on a variety of petite sandwiches and pastries from local restaurants, food markets, & patisseries.
I love Vesper because of juxtaposition of cool sleek design and kitsch, which even extends to the names of the drinks themselves. Try the pisco-infused “Art of War” or the “Local Old Fashioned,” a Jenever-based cocktail served, in the Dutch tradition, with a slice of rye bread wrapped in bacon. And then there’s the “Beyond the Piñas”…a concoction that is gloriously high-octane, but just this side of heaven in taste. Starting with an absinthe-coated glass, the bartender adds Mezcal, orange sherbet, freshly squeezed lime juice, pineapple, and a few drops of key lime bitters. Who knew shopping and high tea could be so fun? Only in Amsterdam!!