Tips on testing a new cafe
Last week I went out to have a drink and relax. I had no idea where to go and I just wandered around until I found this cafe called The Drunken Lords.
The cafe, or bar -as I'm not entirely sure what its label is- is located in the Historic Center of Bucharest. This area is full of cafes, restaurants, bars, night clubs, and even random shops, especially those selling wedding gowns. I may show some of these stores in a future entry.
I never went here before, and I often go to new places just because. The downside is that I never know how the service or the drinks are. I came up with a simple and rather sure way of testing out new cafes. I will share my observations with you, because you know, "sharing is caring," and I started this blog for this particular reason.
Check out the atmosphere of the place.
This means you need to observe "each detail." For instance, what do the seats and the tables look like? Do they seem comfortable? How many people can they accommodate? What type of decorations are there on the walls? Is there a funny scent, or is it too smoky?
The Drunken Lords had tables for two but tables for 4 or 6 persons as well. The owner or the designer thought about using a combination of chairs and sofas [or couches] to appeal to the preferences of more people.
I sat on a chair, while my friend used the sofa to sit at the same table.
I really liked the wall decor and this is why I took two pictures of it. One of the walls was completely covered in these old books - most likely nobody would have read them anymore. Among all those books, some really old fashion suitcases were also sprinkled. You can actually see a little bit of one of them in the above picture.
I didn't take a better picture because it took me minute to realize what was I looking at, and was feeling self conscious taking pictures. On another wall, the designer used the portrait of a gentleman [see below] - too bad my phone and the spotlight were at a bad angle. I really liked how the middle section was left as it was while the upper and the lower sections seem painted over.
Check the bathroom
You may not need to go, but you should still go wash your hands before consuming anything. This is exactly what I also did. Having a look at the cafe's restroom is a great indicator of the care they put in serving their clients.
Luckily most of the restrooms I went to while being at a cafe, were CLEAN. They might not have someone to clean the place after each person, nor advanced Japanese toilets, but you won't feel like throwing up while walking in there.
I never sit on the toilet seat, but that's a different story. This restroom was not only clean, but it was nicely scented too. They have one for the ladies and one for the gents, separated, unlike many other places. 2 people can go in 2 separate stalls at the same time, and there were 2 sinks with soap and paper towel dispensers as well.
Can you tell I was nicely impressed?
Pay attention to the staff
Of course, many people would pay attention to the staff, and notice faster if the staff is rude or not polite enough. The guys on duty on that evening were all smiles and excited to talk to me and my friend. This made the experience more relaxed and much more pleasant.
There is one slight minus that happens virtually everywhere I go: when the order came, there was no napkin in sight! 0.0 I realized this when it was too late, and took my own out [taken from another cafe. When our waiter noticed, he got upset, but he didn't say a word. ooops] I should have asked for some, but I'm not sure why I didn't.
The way your bill is presented at the end is also important. Since you're going to a more fancy place, you should receive it inside a little something, and not just given in your hand. Different locations have different ways of presenting it: in glasses, inside small fancy looking boxes, or specially created cases.
Place your order
This step is one of the most important one when going to a cafe or restaurant. However you must be prepared ahead of time.
What I like doing is quite simple, and uses common sense [I noticed not many people still have it these days, sadly].
I order some drinks I really like and that are super easy to get right or fail. [Well, I also pay attention to the quantity and the price, to see how 'fair' they are or if they're trying to rip customers off - this is something that happens at times].
We ordered a lemonade and a hot chocolate with a side of a standard drink - Pepsi Cola [hey, Pepsi folks! can I get some change here for advertising your drink? =P LOL]. Pepsi was the last resort if we hated the other two drinks ;)
Lemonade is something REALLY easy to make. And it might sound ridiculous to some of those reading this entry, but I had a few places bringing me a NASTY lemonade. If they don't know how to make a decent lemonade, how are they going to make other more complicated drinks?
The staff at The Drunken Lords made a nice lemonade for me. Its size was decent too - not too large and not too small either. I also found its price rather fair, so I can't complain in this regard.
Hot chocolate is something that I had a bad experience with on a few occasions. This one was a good one, and therefore I have no complaints here either. The bad experiences were related to watered down chocolate, and the drink not being hot enough [at the same time too at least once], OR it being a pudding chocolate.
Hot chocolate is supposed to be like hot Nutella and a bit more creamy or liquid when hot. And the barista at The Drunken Lords did just that. YAY! [can I get some cash for advertising Nutella as well?]
All in all, I had a nice time there. I also liked it because at the time it was mostly empty, so it was more quiet. The music was nice as well. At least in the beginning of my stay, because I can't remember the whole playlist, but the music was pleasant all the way.
If you're in Bucharest, you should totally check this place out. This is their website.
©Charly Cross 2013 - present. All rights reserved. Re-edited in March 2018.