Austrian cafés have a reputation for being calm, sedate, dignified, leisurely, homey, unhurried… Which some of them are, but if you’re an impatient 21st century type of person you might want to try the exact opposite, a huge and truly efficient café that gets masses of coffee and cake served with a minimum of waiting time.
First a male waiter comes and takes your coffee order. He brings your coffee, you pay for it on the spot and then a hefty middle-aged woman, one of several who are constantly circulating, comes to your table with a huge tray of different kinds of cake on individual plates. You choose one, she puts in front of you on the table, you pay for it on the spot and she’s off to the next table.
I don’t know if Café Tomaselli was already so efficient when it first opened in 1703, or if it is always so efficient at slack hours today, but in the middle of a rainy afternoon when tourists and locals alike come storming in for their daily sugar-fix, the Tomasellis’ level of organization would warm the heart of the most demanding management consultant.
Both the coffee and the cake are fine, by the way, as you have every right to expect in an Austrian café. And if you should change your mind and decide to stay a while for a leisurely chat, they won’t rush you.
Of course if any of those ladies ever dropped their tray it would create a huge mess, but as far as I know that never happens.
According to the Tomaselli website, their illustrious past customers included “Hermann Bahr, Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Max Reinhardt, who are said to have come up with the idea for the Salzburg Festival seated at one of the coffee tables at the Café Tomaselli.”
Like every other café in Austria, this one is currently closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
My photos in this post are from 2016. I revised the text in 2020.
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