Saturday, March 26, 2011

French Cafe!

Yes, there is a French cafe in Astana!

At the Radisson Hotel one day, my co-worker and I picked up a little brochure, a list in English of restaurants in Astana. One of the restaurants listed said it was a French cafe, with coffee, tea, and dessert. Google maps placed the restaurant near the Radisson (which is across the river and two or three bus stops from our home).

So on Thursday, 24 March, we decided to try it out.

It's behind the Radisson, which is an immense building, and on a tiny side-street, so it's hard to find if you don't know what you're looking for. It's across the street from a German restaurant that looks promising.

This cafe, La Belle on Irchenko Street, is absolutely adorable. It has two sections for dining--the bar side, with super-tall armchairs and dim lighting; and a lighter section with fancy tables, comfy couches and armchairs, and a light-green-and-white, flowery, "I'm in a garden" kind of feeling.

We relaxed at our table and spent quite a while poring over the menu. The Russian menu had pictures, the English menu had, well, English, so we needed both menus.

I chose a banana tort--a fancy cake with bananas, white cake, and chocolate mousse--as well as a cappuccino. My co-worker chose a Belgium waffle with "creamy" sauce and some tea. Sophia chose cranberry juice, chocolate ice cream, and a grilled cheese sandwich.

The banana tort was divine, as was the waffle. The whole experience was heavenly and pleasant--a relaxing afternoon. The bill was rather high for Astana, but what you would expect from a French cafe. Around 700 to 1000 tenge per dessert (about $5 - $6). The tea, though, was a surprise--a pot of English Breakfast tea cost 1200 Tenge, and the milk was extra! This in a town where hot tea is plentiful and usually the cheapest option and milk in your tea is taken as a given, not an extra side-item.

Definitely a pleasant afternoon!

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