There are plenty of coffee houses around. In fact there are so many of them that it’s hard to tell them apart. That is not a problem with Cafe Einstein, which opened a couple of months ago at 1709 Eastern Avenue.
Cafe Einstein is a Eurocafe—sleek, serene, comfortable, friendly, hung with original artwork, and serving German food with a delicious and healthy twist.
If your idea of German food is sauerbraten, sausage and liters of beer toted to your table by the St. Pauli Girl, you owe it to yourself, and perhaps to the German people, to visit Cafe Einstein. It’s an eye-opener.
The dishes are flavorful and healthy. You can have lunch at Cafe Einstein and avoid the carbohydrate coma after. And Claudia Phillips, the owner-chef-maitre d’-waitress and who-knows-what-else, will take very good care of you—she is warm, friendly and informative, eager to describe and present her dishes. We were very relaxed and happy after an hour there.
Claudia is from Ulm, a town in Southern Germany which boasts one of the great research universities in the world, and was once home to Albert Einstein—hence the name.
Carbs are well represented on the menu—they’re just not everything on the menu. The goulash, which is a deliciously stewed traditional beef stew, comes with light little nuggets of spaetzle, which is a kind of dumpling. It’s great stuff to sop up the goulash sauce.
We also tried the pancake sushi ($9.50), a thin buckwheat pancake rolled around spinach and Brie cheese, baked and sliced to resemble a sushi platter. You can order it several ways—at Claudia’s suggestion we had some ham with the spinach and cheese, and were very happy with the choice. She also makes it with sliced bratwurst, or you can have it vegetarian.
Also at her suggestion, we got a salad sampler for the side dish. We had little dollops of potato salad—light, sweet and vinegary and nothing like the heavy American version, and karottesalat, grated vibrant orange carrots, dressed similarly with sweet and sour. The rote beetsalat, or beet salad, was absolutely wonderful, fresh roasted beets gently pickled and grated, the earthy taste of the beets a contrast with the pickling. If your only experience with beets is canned or bottled, try these. They might just convert you.
I could have made a meal of the salads, and vegans certainly can. There is no mayo and no sour cream on the salads, just a light sweet-and-sour dressing.
For vegetarians-not-vegans there is a nice cheese plate, with Brie, herbed chevre and Gorgonzola for $9.50.
The first thing you see when you enter is a bakery case, and it is irresistible. The desserts are made in-house, they change from day to day, and the one we had ($4.50) was delightful, a thin layer of chocolate sponge cake with a light mocha mousse, a layer of sliced banana and topped with ganache. It was a very pretty and tasty ending to our meal.
Lunch for two, including fancy coffees, came to $39.75 including tax but not the tip.
At the moment Cafe Einstein is open till 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, till 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and Sunday brunch from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.