Welcome back to my project of slowly reviewing all the coffee and cakes in Tallinn with my friend Kid, this week: A last second pick with surprises.
Address: Suur-Karja 3, 10140 Tallinn
Date of visit: June 2, 2019
Drinks: Coffee (Kid), Cafe Latte (Mab)
Cakes: Chocolate Cream Roll with Red Fruits (Mab) and Peanut Caramel Brownie (Kid)
Review: We’re getting into the hot days of the year so it’s possible that there will be more ice cream and gelato reviews in my future but for now, we have some cakes.
A little back story for this cafe. We tried to go to the cafe next door but it was closed on Sunday so we made a quick decision and ended up here. There’s basically no end to the cafes that are scattered around in Old Town so it’s not difficult to wander around and pick one that looks appealing. As the tourist season kicks into gear though I think we’ll try and get outside of old town a little bit more – you know, for flavor.
True to its name Vanalinna Kohvik is located in Old Town near the center. There’s no particularly bad or good way to reach it, any tram or pretty much any bus that stops near the old town will let you walk the 5-6 minutes into Old Town to reach it.
Inside the cafe there is a really nice and laid back vibe. All the tables and chair are dark wood and it reminds me of a very quiet pub more than a cafe. There’s quite a lot of seating for such a small space but even at a strange time on Sunday it was nearly full of people. There’s a variety of tables and booths for small and large groups and mercifully, they had a music on but it was so quiet that over the casual conversation it was basically non-existent. (Notably: Estonia’s 2019 Eurovision entry played while we were in the cafe and we got a good laugh out of it.)
This is your standard cafe. It’s got a variety of coffee drinks, smoothies, juices, and alcoholic drinks that you’d expect of any good tourist trap. The pleasant surprise is that they have a abundance of savory options including your standard sandwiches and quiche but also some fun things like a tuna cake and interesting salads. They also have more than an ample amount of cakes, tarts, and sweets and not just the usual fare. There’s quite a lot of things to be explored in this cafe though they have staples like seasonal cheesecakes and mille feuille.
There might be a pattern emerging that I will try not subvert in the future but if there’s a cake that’s mostly cream…I will order it. I like cream. Kid will order the thing closest to a brownie and I’ll order a pile a cream. I just can’t apologize for who we are as humans but I promise I will try to order more interesting cakes in the future. Either way this was a chocolate cream roll cake with red fruits. The sponge of this cake was incredibly light and there wasn’t an excessive amount of cream. The chocolate cake and chocolate cream were both light enough and not too heavy in their chocolate flavor that it was easy to eat the entire cake without pause. The red fruits in the cake were sour and perfect compliment to the sweetened fillings. The best surprise of this cake was that the top had been covered in a thin shell of melted chocolate so each bit had just a hint of the crunch texture making it a really satisfying piece of cake.
As I mentioned Kid orders the thing closest to a brownie more often than not and that’s almost exactly what this is. I think it might have just been labeled something like “peanut-caramel cake” but that’s just getting around the fact that this is a brownie that is flavored with all the component pieces of a Snickers bar. We’ve had Snickers-based cakes before and my argument is that more shops need to start copying that flavor profile. There’s something intensely satisfying about peanut, chocolate, and caramel together and on top of a thick brownie – that’s a home run. This isn’t the worlds most beautiful piece of cake but it just goes to show that ugly is delicious if you’re willing to take a chance.
The service in this cafe is really good but the downside is that the coffee comes from one of those automatic machines and even though its a very high tech version of one, either the ratios are a bit strange in the machine or the coffee beans they use aren’t particularly wonderful because its one of the more mediocre coffees I’ve had in a long time. Perfectly serviceable but for what looked like a very expensive machine, it basically spit out coffee that tasted identical to instant. If you’re looking for a quick and fairly reasonable priced cup of coffee you could do much worse though.
Overall, I really liked this spot and it had a very good selection of savory and sweet items that I might end up stopping in at another time just to try a few more things. I couldn’t say there was anything particularly special about it but you could certainly do a lot worse in the center of Old Town.
Coffee: out of 5
Cake: out of 5