Sorting out tea and coffee in North Ossetia

I don’t think the google search terms ‘coffee in Vladikavkaz’ or ‘tea rooms in Vladikavkaz’ are very frequently used. They gave me a couple of ideas of where to find a decent cuppa, but when we got to the addresses given, neither was there anymore.

That said, one of them was Vincenzos Bakery, and that now appears to be doing fairly well, turning itself into the local Vladikavkaz chain. We popped into one branch in a shopping mall, where the waiters were all enthusiastic, the clientele youthful, and the cakes pretty good (I had a sticky blackcurrant tart), but the coffee was only average compared to the place we found later.

Yes from our limited search the best coffee in Vladikavkaz by a long way must surely be at La France Kofeyna, a coffee shop which by the way has shifted premises since the entry we found on the internet. We actually happened upon it by chance, and very glad we were.

La France for coffee in Vladikavkaz

A good, smooth roast made a very nice cappuccino, with milk just about the right consistency. So nice, in fact, that I had two cups. And that seemed to please Evelinaa, the young woman in charge on the espresso machine that morning.

Evelina barista at La France coffee shop in Vladikavkaz

They do a nice line in croissants and other French pastries like pain au raisins, so calling itself La France in the middle of Ossetian Russia was actually fairly appropriate.

La France for coffee in Vladikavkaz

My only worry for this very good coffee shop is that we were the only people in there at the end of the morning on a Saturday. Now, Saturdays in Vladikavkaz have a bit of a quiet Sunday morning feel, so maybe it isn’t peak time for coffee shops, as it would be in the UK. But we do wish them the best of luck, and if you happen to be in Vladikavkaz or anywhere near, don’t miss what we think is the best coffee shop in town.

Magya cafe in Vladikavkaz

We were also quite pleased to find Café Magyar (spelt in Cyrillic but we don’t have that on this keyboard so I’m approximating the spelling, and Café Magya might be better).

There’s a nice arty feel to this café, with crayons on every table and orange paper to draw on (orange being the main colour theme in the décor). And a really nice display of customers’ efforts, some of which show a bit of talent in the art and design department.

Tea drinkers' art in Magya cafe in Vladikavkaz

But we were here mainly looking for coffee or tea. I spotted some hessian bags by the counter, which could have been either, so used my very basic Russian to find out they were in fact loose leaf teas.

Cafe Magya for tea in Vladikavkaz

So, Café Magyar is our top tip for tea in Vladikavkaz. A very nice brew it was too, though sadly my Russian didn’t extend to any in depth conversation about where they get it from or even its country of origin.

Cafe Magyar in Vladikavkaz

To be honest this is more a lunch time café than a tea room and people were tucking into bowls of steaming soup even at 11am. I’d spotted apple strudel on the menu, though, so had high hopes of tea and cake to match maybe even what we’d tasted in Vienna.

But, ‘no’, we were told. Strudel was off. Or it was the wrong time of day. Or it wasn’t there on Saturdays. Once again I realised that my one year of Russian evening classes may help us ‘get by’, but that’s about the extent of it. The subtleties of menu changes were beyond me – I could have managed ‘why’ it was off, but I know I wouldn’t have understood the answer.

And after all, what’s the point in knowing why. The important thing is that there was no strudel. Maybe I’m having a mind shift and getting into the eastern way of thinking (which began by the way with that cancelled train out of Budapest, when I made the mistake of asking why and got a very blunt, blank response).

Russian lesson on coffee and tea in Vladikavkaz

So we were pretty pleased with what we found in Vladikavkaz. The coffee was definitely good enough to make a strong recommendation, and the tea was clearly pretty special too. And if you want cake in Vladikavkaz, there’s always Vincenzos…

Job done, North Ossetia.

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