Melikrini (Athens, Greece)

Melikrini interior

Melikrini is a small vegetarian café in Athens. They serve a variety of vegan options as well, including delicious cakes. The place itself is quite small, with relaxing music. The interior, while nicely decorated in a cute style, feels a bit stuffed. On the other hand, it is a welcome change from the minimalist hipster fare most vegan/vegetarian places seem to adhere too.  There is a cosy, beautiful terrace, unfortunately next to a busy street and a building site, so it was not too pleasant to be outside.

Terrace outside Melikrini
Terrace outside

Melikrini serves breakfast, lunch and everything in between. The food varies; smoothies, cakes, salty pies and chocolates are some of the things sold when I was there. Melikrini call their food healthy, but that was not the first thing that I thought of when I saw their chocolate cake!

Desserts at Melikrini
Desserts on the counter!

Unfortunately there is no English menu available, but the server was very kind and explained to us most of what is on the menu.

Smoothies at Melikrini
Smoothies at Melikrini, served with bamboo straws

For a drink we tried the soy banana pineapple smoothie and a detox juice. The drinks are served in pretty glasses with bamboo straws.

Salty pie and pizza at Melikrini
Slice of pizza and a slice of broccoli pie

We tried a piece of broccoli pie and a slice of pizza. The béchamel sauce in the pie was home made, and very good! The pizza was nice, it was topped with some fake cheese. I do have to say both of the items were pretty small for a main. I had written down “do not go here if you are hungry” but that was in the pre-dessert phase of this lunch. Now I think that the mains are deliberately small because the desserts are massive!

Desserts at Melikrini
Chocolate pie, apple pie and coffee

There are several vegan desserts available. In fact, I believe all were vegan when we visited. We tried a piece of apple pie and a piece of chocolate pie. With it a Greek coffee, which was served with some fruit jam and raisins.  There are several plant milk alternatives available for the coffee. So the apple pie was one of the best I have had, maybe only Planty makes a better one! The chocolate pie was made of dark chocolate and nuts, very intense taste.

Interior at Melikrini

Unfortunately we could only pay with cash, but I think it is not uncommon in Athens. The service was good, atmosphere pleasant.

 

Type of place: Biological/health shop and café
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts : yes

Website : https://www.facebook.com/melikrini

Kolo (Kyiv, Ukraine)

Outside Kolo
Small terrace outside with the daily menu on display

Kolo is a completely vegan café in Kyiv which serves vegan food, like wraps, soups, salads and burgers. You can also come in for coffee, milkshakes, teas and sweets. The menu changes daily. You can order pies and I believe they do food delivery too.

Inside Kolo
Artsy and relaxed interior

The place itself is cute, a bit hipster, with brick walls and different types of art on the wall. We visited for coffee and a slice of cake. Unfortunately they were just out of cakes! But there were cupcakes, so we tried a carrot-cake cupcake. It was very tasty, and nicely moist. I had a blueberry milkshake (I love how many vegan places offer milkshakes in Kyiv!) which was good.

Snack at Kolo
Blueberry milkshake and carrot cupcake

I have to say the service was a bit overzealous, they took my cup literally minutes after I finished my drink. Apart from that, it was a nice place to sit and relax a bit. I want to go back for a full meal! So there might be a part 2 to this review 🙂

Cupcakes at Kolo
Carrot cupcakes and some cookies to take-away
Type of place :  Vegan café
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes !
Website (Ukrainian, English): https://www.facebook.com/kolo.podol/

Coffee break (Groningen, the Netherlands)

Coffee Break

I went to Coffee Break in Groningen almost two years ago. I went to get breakfast and coffee, and it happened to be close to my hotel. They had several sandwiches for breakfast, including one that was easily veganisable, a peanut-butter banana toasty. At the time it was served with honey, which was easily left out. Also they had plant-milk for in the coffee. At that time I didn’t make any pictures, but I made a mental note to come back and write about this place for my blog.

Interior at Coffee Break
View on the reading table

Finally, I made my way back to Groningen and visited Coffee break again. The place expanded! It is now at least three times as big, with a second floor. While the room is spacious, the atmosphere is still relaxed and cosy. There is for example a reading table with several magazines and newspapers available. The toast that I had last time is now served in a vegan form. And very special: in the fancy coffee you get oat milk as a standard. They have other milk alternatives, such as soy and almond, as well. They do serve cow milk, but for that you have to pay extra. This is the first time that I have seen that! I really like the initiative.  I was a bit surprised that on the tables they do have standard creamer, but later I found out they normally have soy creamer. There was just an issue with the supplier that time.

Vegan cake at Coffee break
Vegan forest fruits and date cake

When I visited Coffee Break there were several cakes on display, and one was vegan. There is a whole bunch of vegan items on the menu now!  We wanted to try a slice of the vegan cake of course, so we had that with a coffee. They also have several smoothies, so I wanted to try one of those as well. An interesting combination, and we also got our order in several parts. We got the cake before the coffee, probably because there was only one server for the entire room. It was however, not that busy. The blueberry cake with dates was nice, not too sweet. The coffee was fine too. It got served with chocolates, which were not vegan. [Edited to add] I have been contacted by Coffee Break and they have informed me their chocolates were in fact vegan.

Coffee and cake at Coffee Break
Oat latte and a slice of the aforementioned cake

We got our smoothies after the coffee, we tried the “mean green”, a combination of spinach, parsley, ginger, mango, and lemon juice (water-based) and the “goody fruity”, a banana-strawberry version with almond milk. The smoothies look very pretty, and are decorated with cacao nibs. They are served with a recyclable straw. Taste-wise they were fine, not very special.

Smoothies at Coffee Break
Pretty smoothies

One thing that is strange, is that the toilet is located upstairs. I have to admit here, that I only thought about it because one of the other patrons was in a wheelchair. I will try to make the effort to note these things. [Edited to add:] I initially thought there was only a staircase but there is also an elevator.

Interior at Coffee Break
Upstairs room

 

Type of place: Breakfast and lunch café
Completely vegan: no

Address: Gedempte Zuiderdiep 22, 9711 HG Groningen, Netherlands

I couldn’t find a working website for Coffee Break. At the time of writing the website linked from the Facebook of their old location was down.

Biofred (Geneva, Switzerland)

Entrance of Biofred

Biofred is a small shop which sells biological products, including many gluten- and lactose-free products. In addition to the shop section there is also a small café with a changing daily menu. They offer warm dishes, sandwiches, salads and desserts. For drinks: smoothies, juices, coffees, etc. Not all food on offer is vegan or vegetarian, but there are several veggie choices.  They serve breakfast as well as lunch items. They also do take-out.

Shop at Bio fred
Part of the shop

The space inside is very small, there are two tiny tables inside and one outside. There is relaxing music, and a chill atmosphere. I don’t think there is a bathroom, though.

Menu at Biofred
Colourful menu!

They use a lot of ” superfoods” in their dishes, like algae-paste, spirulina and maca. They also use a water which has been treated with a specific osmosis process, of which I am …. not sure what to think. They also sell water which has been filtered by this specific process by the litre.

Daily soup at Biofred
Courgette-sweet potato soup

There are several vegan options available, and we were hungry, so we tried several different things. The daily soup was made with courgette and sweet potato.  The soup tasted mostly like the sweet potato, I didn’t really taste the courgette. There was a hint of anise, which was interesting. It did need a bit more seasoning, I think. Strangely enough, it got served kind of lukewarm. The daily warm plate was a lentils with brown rice dish, which is a great and classic combination, of course. The lentils were nicely spiced, but again the plate was a bit lukewarm. (For both the daily soup and warm plate there is a normal and a large version, we took the normal version)

Daily plate at Biofred
Daily warm plate: Rice with lentils

We tried both vegan sandwiches; one with avocado & hummus, and one with pesto-tofu and lemon-almond paste. Both also have algae paste and a variety of vegetables. The bread itself is very tasty, but the sandwiches were not very big. The filling of both sandwiches are nice, specially the tofu is interesting with the spices. They did taste a bit the same though, probably since a lot of ingredients were the same.

Sandwich at Biofred
Avocado sandwich with a cute heart-shaped bun ❤

For drinks we had a smoothie and a fresh-pressed juice. The strawberry smoothie included, besides strawberries, apple, banana, ginger and fig, on a base of rice- almond milk and the Jus-Jitsu contains apple, kiwi, fig and ginger. Both are fine, but not very special. Also they were served in plastic cups, which was a bit strange. Especially since the cutlery and plates were not plastic.

Drinks at Biofred
Jus-jitsu and smoothie

I have to say the service was not spectacular. While the staff member was very nice, she was on her own and she was very occupied by  a (regular?) customer. After a while it got very busy with people getting take-out, I noticed quite a line developed. We had to wait quite some time for our food, even though we were the only people, apart from one other person. I mean, this is not a fast-food place where you expect your food within 5 min, but especially for the soup and plate, which were already made, it was a bit strange.

Outside biofred

Overall I liked the food. Biofred is one of the few bio-eateries that is open on Saturday. Most vegan/bio-places are only open during the week. However, it was pretty expensive for what you get. The food was made with attention to detail, and of course they use biological products (and that special water) so that is the reason why I guess. Bio-oriented/vegan places, often tend to give small portions, at least in Switzerland. Still, I think it is good to mention.

Type of place: Biological/health shop and café
Completely vegan: no

Website (French): http://biofred.com/

Nefis (Geneva, Switzerland)

Interior at Nefis
I guess the colourful cows and milk cans are for the frozen yoghurt part of the shop…the display shows the packaged Turkish foods

A few weeks ago I passed a small café that sold both frozen yoghurt and authentic Turkish food. I was immediately intrigued because I like to try authentic food from different regions (as long as it is vegan of course!) and it is difficult to find authentic Middle-Eastern food here. (Also frozen yoghurt and authentic Turkish food seemed like a strange combination to me, if I am missing something please let me know!)

Drinks at Nefis
Interesting sour cherry drink

Nefis is very small, I think they do mostly catering and take-out. There is some space to sit inside, and there is a terrace as well. When we visited there were several vegan dishes available to choose from: lentils, hummus, dolmas (rice-stuffed vine leaves), a carrot dish and tabbouleh. The food is pre-made and packaged. They also sell some interesting drinks.

nefis_interior

We tried the carrot dish and some dolma. The carrot dish has garlic and it has an almost sweet flavour. The dolma are very delicately spiced- a dash of cinnamon gave a very interesting taste. The food was served with Turkish bread – not the standard flat bread but similar.

Food at Nefis
Dolma and carrot-garlic dish

We finished with coffee, unfortunately we didn’t get the Turkish coffee! I think they do serve it but you have to explicitly ask for it. However, the coffee is served with a Lotus Biscoff cookie…which is vegan 😉

Bread at Nefis
Turkish bread

I really liked the food at Nefis, but still the concept of both the frozen yoghurt and the Turkish authentic food is a bit strange. Additionally, there is very little information about them or their menu online. The staff was very nice, and the overall experience was pleasant.

Interior at Nefis
Colourful chairs
Type of place: Frozen Yoghurt, Turkish catering/café
Completely vegan: no

Website (French): https://www.facebook.com/pg/nefiscuisine/

 

Be Kind Cafe (Geneva, Switzerland)

Exterior of Be Kind Cafe
Bio, vegan, home-made

This cute café in Geneva has opened only a few weeks ago! I had read about the opening of Be Kind Cafe, and since the initial opening coincided with a day I was off of work, I was excited to visit! Unfortunately, the opening was postponed due to water issues.  It took a while before I could visit, since they are only open during the week and I have a full-time job in another city. So when I finally had the chance to be in Geneva around lunchtime, of course I directly wanted to visit the Be Kind Cafe!

Counter at Be Kind Cafe
Cookies on the counter!

Be Kind Cafe offers breakfast foods, coffee and pastries, and lunch. There is a daily lunch menu, with some standard items but the exact ingredients are different per day, and change depending on the season and availability, since they use almost exclusively biological and local products. There are some larger dishes, like a burger and a savoury pie, and smaller foods like sandwiches and soups. For drinks there are juices, hot drinks like coffee and tea, but also wine and beer. You can eat in the café itself, but they also do take-away. The atmosphere of the café is very relaxed, it was quite spacious, hip and still cosy. A place to sit with a nice cup of coffee and a delicious vegan meal.

Inside the cafe
A relaxed, cosy atmosphere

When I visited I tried the daily bagel with a side of roasted potato wedges. The bagel was on the smaller side, and contained salad, roasted pumpkin, vegan ‘ricotta’ and almonds. The tastes went very well together! The bagel bread is very tasty and toasted rather than soft. The potatoes were well-seasoned, large, nice and crunchy.

Be kind Cafe food
Bagel with a side of potato

For a drink I tried the kefir with figs. I know kefir as a yogurt-product, but this was rather a fermented fruit juice.

Bagel close-up at Be Kind Cafe
The bagel was properly stuffed with vegetable goodness !

There are several desserts available, there are some standard on the menu but there are also some daily variations. I tried the apple crumble with oats, with vanilla ice cream on top. With it, a coffee of course 🙂 The crumble was great!

Dessert at Be Kind Cafe
Apple crumble with oats and vanilla ice cream

I really like the Be Kind Cafe, the food is good and service great! The only downside is that they are only open on weekdays. I really do have to get back one day for their breakfast menu though; vegan croissants! Also I’d love to try the vegan burger they offer. And the other cookies I didn’t try yet…so yes, I will be back 🙂

Type of place: breakfast, lunch, café
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website (French): https://www.bekindcafe.ch/

N & Co by Quinte & Sens (Vevey, Switzerland)

netco_exterior

Quinte & Sens is a shop in Vevey which sells biological products. Attached to it is N&Co, a small café. The entrance to the shop is at on one side of the block, N&Co has its own entrance in a pedestrian area at the other side. (You can also pass through the shop to get to the café)

Food at N&Co
Vegan pastries and savoury snacks!

The café is small, with some seats inside and a small terrace. The food in N & Co is touted to be 100% vegetarian, gluten-free and lactose-free. They use a lot of local, and of course biological products.

There is a counter with some savoury items, a glass display with pastries and sandwiches, a small refrigerated area with pre-made and pre-packaged dishes and drinks, and a salad bar where you can compose your own salad. You order at the counter, pay, and they bring your food after heating it. N&Co does a lot of take-out too, from what I could see when I visited. It was quite busy actually.

Salad bar at N&Co
Salad bar

It was a bit unclear to me if they serve vegetarian or vegan-only food, but when we visited and asked, we were told all the food was vegan! We tried a piece of broccoli savoury pie, empanadas and a lentil salad (from the refrigerated area). All of those got heated (also the lentil salad…I guess it was not a salad 🙂 )  Unfortunately the reheating of the lentil salad was not very thorough, some parts were flaming hot and others were actually cold.  That is too bad since the salad itself was pretty tasty.

Lentil salad at N&Co
Lentil dish

I never really tasted empanadas until I visited New York, were I found a lot of vegan ones and I ate a ton of them. They are generally very tasty, so I was excited to try them! The empanadas at N&Co were okay but lacked a bit of spiciness to me. Maybe because I got used to the spicy NYC version 🙂

Empanadas at N&Co
Empanadas!

My absolute favourite was however the broccoli tart. Apart from broccoli it also has nuts, seeds and mushrooms, which added a nice, earthy taste.

For desserts we choose a prune pie (tarte aux prunes) and a muffin. I really like the prune pie, it was fresh, and not too sweet. The muffin is nice, but quite dense.

We got all the food at once, I guess because we ordered all at the same time. The food ordering process was …. chaotic. But I will talk more about that in a moment.

Food at N&Co
Piece of broccoli pie, prune tart and muffin

If you order food you can get some iced tea for free with it, but they also serve other drinks like juices. We decided to go with the tea (mostly because of aforementioned confusion, we were not comfortable ordering something else).

So, the service. I don’t like being negative, and I want to stress that this was a single visit. Most reviews I read online don’t mention the service at all, or say that it’s great so I think we just got unlucky. But I also want to be honest. The service in the café, when I visited, was not good. It was quite busy and there was only one staff member, so I understand he couldn’t keep up with the people. But the way he reacted was rude and borderline unstable.

When we arrived at N&Co the staff member was on the phone behind the counter.  Assuming he was busy we waited with ordering while checking out the food stuffs on display and trying to make a choice. It all looked good! While still on the phone, the staff member urged us to order anyway. The ordering process was very chaotic, we had to say several times what we wanted. So the moment I wanted to pay he quoted the price. But. He overcharged us by 60CHF (!!!), since he had mis-typed one of the prices(!). Even in Switzerland, that amount is ridiculous. This more than doubled our total ! And he didn’t blink at quoting us that price either.  I noticed the discrepancy and I refused to pay until he had given us the proper bill. He urged us to sit down and resolve it later, since it was busy. However, he was being very rude about it, and behaved erratically. We sat down, got the food. But it was uncomfortable. I am not saying customer is king, but we felt like we were inconveniencing this guy.

After eating our food I again tried to pay and this time we got the right price.  The staff member, now calmed down, apologised for the mix-up and we got our desserts comped because he screwed up before.

Tea at N&Co
Home made, unsweetened iced tea

So yeah, the food was great but the service made it hard to enjoy. It just felt uncomfortable.  If I am in Vevey I might pop by to see who is at the counter and order again. But I won’t go out of my way to visit. There are too many other good places!

Type of place:  café/lunch
Completely vegan:  ?
Vegan desserts: yes

Website (French) : http://quinte-et-sens.bio/