Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Tallinn Café Scene: Kehrwieder cafés

This is my last installment about various cafés in Tallinn. Kehrwieder is actually a chain of very cosy cafés in my home town, and the pictures here are from Saiakangi Café & Chocolaterie, on a small sidestreet just off the Town Hall Square (Raekoja plats). As I went to school within the walls surrounding the Old Town, I walked on this street often. And I still remember when it used to be a florist during the dark Soviet years:)

It is still dark - though nowadays not because of the Soviet shadows, but because it is located in a basement floor. This dark cosyness/cosy darkness is characteristic of Kehrwieder cafés as they tend to be tucked away in medieval courtyards and behind thick medieval stone walls. Another favourite of mine is their Tristan & Isolde café, which is under one of the vaults of the Town Hall itself. And believe me, there's something very romantic about sipping your coffee* surrounded by 14th century walls.. Especially during dark cold winter nights, when your table has nothing else than a candle on it - how romantic is that?? However, should you feel like reading a book in solitude for a couple of hours (and I've done that in many a Kehrwieder café), then the tables have discreet desktop lamps, so you don't have to strain your eyes too much. This is something I don't understand about Edinburgh cafés - they're either too bright to be cosy, or then they are strictly candlelight only, so it is your own interest not to read anything..

Again - there is a wide array of really yummy seasonal cakes and tarts in this place (behind the glass display) in addition to the usual range of yeast pastries (the basket on the left). I also like their salads - these come with either tuna or smoked chicken, and are light and cheap, perfect for a quick lunch. Also a wide choice of teas and coffees, as well as wine or spirits. A small class of liqueur with your coffee is quite common in Estonia:)

The main downside - I don't comprehend it, but for some weird reason they use UHT milk for making coffee. And that's not good. But for their cakes and general atmosphere - recommended.

* Or hõõgvein (mulled wine/glögg) which is the choice of hot drink once it's dark outside again..

Kehrwieder Cafe & Chocolaterie
Saiakang 1
Open: Sunday-Thursday from 8am until 11pm, Friday & Saturday from 8am until 1am


Shauna said...

I love the internet. Without it, I would never be able to read about cafés in Tallinn. And now I want to go there, read for hours by the light of a candle on the table. Lovely post.

Anonymous said...

I love the mismatched chairs in the last picture! It does look very cosy in there :-)

I went to Tallin a couple of years back. I was based in Finland and we took a trip from there...we saw the Old Town, so lovely! We ate in a place much like you described, dark and cosy, "tucked away in medieval courtyards and behind thick medieval stone walls"...

Anonymous said...

Hi Pille , you do seem to be a café-lover ! (Just as I am, especially as far as my breakfast-ritual is concerned ;-)
so you should come and see our traditional Viennese coffeehouses one day ! Would be great to show you around...by the way, "Kehrwieder" is German and means "come back"...
kind regards, angelika

Anonymous said...

What's UHT milk?

Thanks for your series on cafes in your hometown. It's been fun and enlightening to read about them all.

And thanks for linking me on your site. I just noticed it! I'm honored!

Musi (is that correct?),

Pille said...

Shauna - I know:) I've learnt loads already by reading other blogs - or internet in general. And spending hours reading in a cosy café is a lovely pasttime. My problem is that most of my work can be done this way as well, but it makes me feel guilty, so I try to resist the temptation and read in my office instead..

Paz - UHT milk is ultrahigh-temperature-treated milk, or basically milk that remains "fresh" for months and months on end. Although it may be convenient to have one in your fridge for emergencies, it does have a weird side-flavour and I can't see why they use it in a café that goes through loads of milk on a regular basis. Lazyness I guess..
'Musi' is more or less correct, though it should be in accusative and usually in plural in this context ('musisid'). But I won't get into the grammar here - it would take me a while to explain the stuff about Finno-Ugric heritage, no future tense, and 14 cases:)

Joey - am so glad to hear that you enjoyed your daytrip to Tallinn. I think it's a wonderful place, too, if I may say so:)

Angelika - I guess that's true. I'd love to visit Viennese coffeehouses one day - I've heard lots of good things about them! Tallinn had a very vibrant and Central European style café scene in the interwar period, and now cafés are becoming popular again.

Pille said...

Angelika - thanks for clarifying the meaning of 'kehrwieder' - I didn't know that. The café banner also says "kaduv kunst", which means "disappearing art/skill", and I thought it was related to the name..

Anonymous said...

Hi Pille, thank you for answering - and I do think that there IS a relation between the two names - they want the old/disappearing skills/arts to COME BACK aka BRING ALIVE again !

I have just posted one of my chanterelles recipes - and have mentioned your blog as specializing ;))) on those autumn treats ! Have a nice day, angelika

Sandeep said...

nice blog. The only encounter I had with Estonian "cuisine" has been with "Vana Tallinn". My friend Andres mixed with milk (!!) and called it ...
Mad Cow Milk.

Its my favorite liquor of all time !!

Pille said...

Hi Sandeep,
thanks for your compliments!
It's funny to hear about Andres (an Estonian, I gather by name) offering you a milky Vana Tallinn cocktail:)
There's no need to mix these two nowadays - Liviko, the company who makes Vana Tallinn, is now also producing a cream liqueur with the same name. Beats Bailey's etc any day - so much more flavour and less sugary.. And soooo nice in a coffee or over ice cream:)

Anonymous said...

Hi Pille - this place looks/sounds lovely, thanks for giviing me another good reason I *must* visit Tallinn one day...

Pille said...

Keiko - if you come, I'll take you to all the best cafes in town:)

MR ED said...

Great little resturant but too dark. On Sept. 9th 2009, while we were visiting Tallin on a 10 day cruise, my wife was inside to check out the pastry's and she was pick pocket while inside of about $ 65.00. Just a warning!!!