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Leopold's Kafe & Konditerei


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Checked out the new (open as of last Tuesday) Leopold's Kafe & Konditerei this past weekend - twice.

I wasn't really quite sure what to expect - other than the fact that in last week's Tom Sietsema's online chat he mentioned this place as somewhere to go for a cup of coffee and dessert. Leopold's does serve quite a variety of cakes/pastries along with ice creams (not made on site) and some really good coffee (dark & strong), but they also offer breakfast, salads, sides, and entrees along with a small wine list.

There were some serious service issues on both visits - kinks that will hopefully be worked out as time goes by. I was forgiving of these service issues because 1) they've only been open for less than a week and 2) the space/location is fabulous! Located down a set of stairs off of M St., the cafe is on a lovely little courtyard with a fountain in the center, away from the noise and people of G'town. Although there is not (yet?) a sign up saying "Leopolds", the inside decor is modern and there are tables set out in the courtyard for dining. With weather like this past weekend, the more time spent outside the better.

Food: First visit - coffees and lemon meringue tart ($6) and cheesecake with chocolate and berries ($8). The lemon meringue tart was very lemony and tart enough, although the pastry crust was a bit too hard and sugary. The cheesecake was also good, not very sweet (which I prefer), with a chewy, cakey chocolate/raspberry base and strawberries to garnish.

Second visit - Lunch: Tried to order breakfast, but was told we couldn't since it was past noon (even though we had been sitting there since before noon, but no one had come to take our food orders). We both ordered the kase spaetzle (quark spaetzle, with emmanthaler cheese and walnuts, & fried onions - $13). It was yummy. The spaetzle were crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. Combined with the melted cheese and the crunch of the walnuts, it was the German equivalent of mac & cheese. mmm, mmm, good.

Service issues: 1) there is not a host/hostess at the stand in the entry. Given that it looks like a cafe, patrons are unsure as to wait to be seated or just seat themselves. 2) Serious understaffing and suspect staff inexperience - Friday night, 6-8 tables filled and the staff said that they were "slammed". 3) Long waits between receiving menus, ordering food, receiving food, payment process. On my second visit, we weren't complaining about the SLOW service as it was so nice outside, but our waiter was trying to improve things nonetheless. He offered us a free dessert for the lack of availability of breakfast food, and later a refill of my friend's riesling to make up for slowness of service. We turned down the wine offer, but appreciated the attempt to make up for poor service.

All in all, will go back for food, coffee, and dessert - even with the iffy service, though I really hope it improves.

Sorry for such a long post.

Debbie S. aka "ozgirl"

Squirrel: "Darn nuts! How I long for a grapefruit." - Eddie Izzard

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Slow service huh?  Sounds like a Vienna coffehouse to me.  I'll have to try the place out. How was the coffee?

Coffee was good. The "Kaiser Melange", strong brewed coffee topped with whipped cream was particularly good. The regular brewed coffee was also good - it's dark and strong but without that burnt Starbucks aftertaste. (Even the decaf was drinkable.)

One other musing - even though the cafe likens itself to a Vienna coffeehouse, the waitstaff know nothing about Germany/Austria or German. Best stick to the English descriptions in the menu and not the German names given to the dishes.

Debbie S. aka "ozgirl"

Squirrel: "Darn nuts! How I long for a grapefruit." - Eddie Izzard

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More importantly, tell us(me!) more about the pastries. I understand Nancy Kirschner from NY (Tuscan, Daniel) is running the pastry kitchen. Do they have the full array of classic Viennese desserts, or a more contemporary mix? the cases full? what's your impression of the pastry shop overall? The front of the house belongs to a "real" Viennese guy, they imported directly from Vienna. (no... not Virginia! :laugh: ) It sounds like he hasn't completed his training of his staff.

They have been advertising for help for quite some time (a few months) both B&FOH, so I assume they haven't found everyone they are looking for...

Regardless, with that location, and the local $ clientele, the place should do very well. I remember reading about it as a smart business move in a business journal back in the fall.

I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

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The pastry case has about 8-10 different dessert items. They are all visually stunning and from I tried, tasty as well. There are individual single serving items as well as whole cakes. My impression is that you can buy the pastries to go if you so choose.

Other than a sacher torte, I was surprised to see a lack of traditional Austro/German desserts. There wasn't anything poppyseed, apricot, or black forest related. What is there is a wide variety of desserts ranging from a towering triple chocolate mousse to an opera cake to a pear tart. Both chocolate lovers and non-chocolate fans should be able to find a dessert that appeals to them.

There isn't any additional "plating" of the pastries at service. This isn't an issue - the pastries are gorgeous all on their own and don't need any additional flair.

Debbie S. aka "ozgirl"

Squirrel: "Darn nuts! How I long for a grapefruit." - Eddie Izzard

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My sister and I went on Saturday morning. The exterior doesn't have a sign yet, and the interior is very clean in the "art-gallery" sort of look. Think "Sprockets" sort of German, and you'll be right on the money.

Good espresso -- the sugar managed to float on the crema before dropping down, and it had no burnt taste. They presented the espresso with the requisite small glass of water and a tiny carafe of milk. My sister ordered the melange, and she said that it was good.

I ordered the soft-boiled eggs with toast soldiers and my sister ordered the pastry basket. The manager was very kind and attentive and apologized for the kinks in service. (They seem really understaffed right now.) The food was good and presented in a very modern brushed-metal sort of way.

A lot of people came by, tried to open the locked set of doors, got confused, and walked away. The people inside had to chase them down and let them know that it wasn't some sort of exclusive club!

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