Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Trouble With Vienna

I spent some time at the relatively new Cafe Vienna over the past couple of days, the restaurant/cafe/wine bar next to the Midway Theater. My friends and I talked a lot about the place while we sat there and our conclusion: while this is certainly a very nice restaurant, with a bit of an overhaul it could be a smashing success.

The restaurant wasn't very crowded this past Saturday night - and perhaps that is not a surprise. Cafe Vienna lists a Coca-Cola on its menu for $4.50. I point that out because it is kind of symbolic about the things that are wrong with this new restaurant -- for one thing a menu of rather exotic desserts and food offerings at often steep prices that kind of seems more at home in Vienna itself, than here in New York City.

What does Cafe Vienna get right? They did a really nice job in renovating the space. It's airy, inviting, pleasant. But it could also be better. Our conclusion: Cafe Vienna should remake itself along the lines of Ozzie's Coffee in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Inside Ozzie's on 5th Ave. in Park Slope.
If you haven't been to Ozzie's this photo gives you kind of the idea of what we are talking about. It's a relaxing coffee shop where people can find a spot on a sofa or a comfy big chair, spend time reading, chatting, spread out with a newspaper and kick back for an hour or so. It's eclectic, hip but fun, relaxed - just the kind of spot we could use here in Forest Hills. And what's more, the space next to the Midway Theater where Cafe Vienna is right now would be ideal for this type of place.

Cafe Vienna has begun to embrace the nice weather this time of year brings with it - its big windows were open Saturday night to their outdoor seating area. Good move! But change up the place by throwing some comfy couches into the mix, lose the Viennese-style and go with more of an American coffee house feel with a more classic American coffee house menu, scatter around tables with books and magazines and newspapers. And I really do think, this place would be a huge hit.

If you want to see one new local place that has already captured this feel, check out La Boulangerie. I hear that Saturday morning its comfortable, inviting new space was packed with people just hanging out and enjoying this French bakery's freshly made offerings.


  1. We went on Tuesday night, looked at the menu, and left immediately. Way too expensive for a neighborhood restaurant, and there was nobody in it, and one couple sitting at a table outside. The place is pretty. Pity they can't put together a menu that people want to try at prices we can afford to pay.

  2. Crossing Queens BlvdSeptember 5, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    I agree 100%. The owners are missing the great potential of this location.

  3. A coke for $4.50? Outrageous. We are living in recession times. I'd rather get a large latte from Starbuck's for that price!

  4. I liked it a lot! Food was good, it wasn't THAT expensive. Is it really empty? Crowd seemed good when I went, which was really early on a Friday, I think -- like 5 p.m.

  5. I agree with the prices being a touch steep, but I thought the food and service was solid. Popped in for a small plate or two and a glass of wine with my girlfriend a few Sundays back and we were pretty impressed by it.