Cafe Condesa: Fit for a Countess…
…in many ways. Cafe Condesa, a charming eco-friendly wine boite, is delicious enough for a countess, and priced for one too. Unassuming and sparsely decorated, Cafe Condesa sits discreetly on W.10th St, next to Bobo just off 7th Ave. In nice weather, the benches outside are usually populated by sole musicians or locals reading.
The restaurant itself is very compact, with only 10 to 12 tables and a couple seats at the “bar.” Little artwork and Thomas Edison-style light bulbs lend a ‘rustic’ and simple vibe. The emphasis here is not on the decor; it is on the food, the wine, and the ‘concept.’
Cafe Condesa is unique in its pursuit of eco-friendly cooking. There is no gas range; everything is prepared on magnetic induction cookers (i.e. top of the line hot plates). There is no back kitchen; the whole menu is cooked up in a small cramped corner behind the bar. You would never know though that the delicious food came out of that space. Despite the lack of high-tech cooking gear, the food is marvelous. Spanish, French, and Italian, the main influences clearly come from continental Europe. And although there are relatively few options, each dish is done exactingly.
The whole menu looked tempting from the warm brie cheese to the soft shell crab with terra crust to the pan seared sea scallops. I opted for the rack of lamb which they advertise as 3 chops but was suspiciously just 2. Despite being skimped, the lamb was tender and immensely flavorful with a chimmichurri sauce. My friend Sarah went for the scallops after much deciding. She adored them. It should be noted though: while the food is wonderful, the portions are miniscule and the prices are high.
My friends Sarah and Julie, my boyfriend and I absolutely tore through the wine list, devouring the pinot noir, the cote de rhone and the sauvignon blanc. They were all remarkable, not terribly high-priced, and the perfect fuel for an intimate evening of good conversation.
The one significant downside to Cafe Condesa is the lackadaisical service. Two waifs meander around the small space, chatting with each other and noshing on snacks. It took us almost 15minutes to get our check, at which point I just got up and gave it to one of them.
Regardless of the table service flaws, Cafe Condesa is equally ideal for a leisurely breakfast with the paper, a spirited dinner with friends, a romantic yet laidback date, or a wine-fueled evening of debate and banter. It’s sheer size gives it a unique and relaxed intimacy. Adorable and cozy, Cafe Condesa epitomizes a successful neighborhood joint!