It's difficult to classify this unique establishment, into the traditional roles of restaurant, bar, pub or cafe. Named the "Amsterdam Grand Cafe", it does happen to serve coffee, but its offering extend far beyond that. This is not your ordinary Starbucks. In fact this is your Starbucks experience on sterioids, for those of you who partake in global, homogenized coffee and enjoy cafe culture as much as I do.
Nevertheless, this cafe has something to offer people of all types of tastes and desires. As you enter and pass through the heavy, red velvet curtain, (to keep out the draft in winter), you'll be greeted by a long mahogany bar, replete with brass bar footrests. To the right are matching long tables with banker's lamps which seem more appropriate in the New York Public Library rather than in a culinary establishment. Perhaps, it's because it has outlets for the one's laptop. A bizzare occurance in Romania, even for Bucharest.
Proceeding to the left we'll find tables and chairs, beneath large windows allowing one to peer outside and people watch if one so desires. Working our way around the bar, there are more tables and the stairwell.
Now here is where one must make their choice. Upstairs, to the stylish and sophicated, dining area, complete with another more intimate bar, or downstairs to the cellar which turns into a disco at night during the weekend, again with another bar, with its own separate entrance.
Favorite Dish: My personal favorite entrees are the 'Spicy Citrus Salmon', the 'Chicken Quesadilla' or if I'm looking for something light, especially during the summer, I opt for the 'Greek salad'.
Fine food fare at moderate prices. If however you find prices to be a bit on the expensive side, I'd urge you to remember that it is Bucharest, a capital city of a European nation and it attracts many expats and Romanians alike. Therefore you're paying as much for atmosphere and ambiance as for the delightful dishes.
The food choices are distinctly international, which means if you're looking for traditional Romanian cuisine, this is certainly not the place to go. Entrees are moderately priced for Bucharest and offer a wealth of delicious dishes for even the most discerning palates.
Sophicated and charming this establishment is located near Piata Unirii and Universitate. If you're uncertain as to what you're looking for, or in an indecisive group that cannot decide, among a restaurant, pub or disco, this is the one-stop shop for you.
Pofta Buna! And perhaps you'll see me there!
Well, I did not mean to have this place as "local", actually I'd have it half the way between "local" and Middle Eastern (more on the Levant side), but the VT did not want me to. So anyway, just imagine a lazy summer afternoon and a small terrace between two cosy houses, with a relaxed atmosphere. Imagine people chatting forever. That is La Taifas, for Romanians love their taifas, their endless chat. It is part of the national pride and profile, it is part of the local customs and also an important, influent element of the country's GDP (a drawback, but who cares, we are at lunch). And then, while floating in this dreamy world, imagine some dreadful noise coming from the construction site across the street: wake up, my dear, and ask for another caraf of house wine, for you are still in Bucharest and not in Southern France!
Well, but what if you go there on a rainy autumn day, on a cold winter afternoon, or on too cool a spring evening? Well, then walk inside (inside the house on your left as you enter the yard), turn right when at the reception desk, say the magic words "Salonul Levantin" if asked by the staff where the hell you are heading, be self-posessed and walk past the saloon and through the reddish door, then up the reddish stairs, then find an available table and sit on pillows. What a pity they do not have waterpipes (but I have convinced them to allow me bring my own)! Bookings are recommended especially for the above-mentioned saloon.
Favorite Dish: The menu (written in chalk on blackboars) is similar to what they have at Bistro Athenaeum (for they share the same good management). Apart from those dishes mentioned there, I would recommend the Kofta Levantin or the chiftea levantina in Romanian.
I'd have a couple of recommendations for the management: green tea with fresh mint leaves served in tall glasses, black tea coming from metal pots from the High Atlas, Syrian water pipes, Damascus-like baklava, Tehran sheep tongue stew served with rice and spices, aaish bi zaatar bread from Yemen, as well as some Beirut mezze. Anyway, even without these things, they are good people, but I could not help myself.
Just next to the Hilton and across the street from the Athenaeum, this might be a fine place to have dinner after a classical music concert. The decor is trying to create the atmosphere of interbellum Bucharest, including street signs, murals and even a fountain, while some of the rooms have a clandestine touch, with interesting lighting systems that use even musical instruments. A couple of rooms have good views to the street nearby.
Favorite Dish: The menu is not very generous, but what they have there is always good. The menu comes on a blackboard and it is in Romanian only. So, unless your waiter speaks English (some do not), you have to try and make your way with the help of a guidebook, of fellow customers or of your common sense. The "varza a la Cluj" (Cluj style cabbage with spices), the musaca and the starters they have (especially the baked peppers, the zacusca and the aubergine salad) are simple, but very good.
Tosca restaurant/terrace is located near the Opera House, vis-a-vis of the Law Faculty. You can have here almost anything to drink and to eat. From beer, refreshments to salads, soups, grills and specialities, and of course delicious deserts.
Open betweeen: 9am - 12pm
Favorite Dish: Chicken liver and various salads.
Stopped in here for some after-dinner drinks. I tried a taste of the 'Hummer' drink, and it was delicious!