New trends for foodies that you need to know

You might not think of Bucharest as a coffee destination. After all, Romania is no Finland or Norway in terms of coffee consumption and has no long-standing culture like fika in Sweden. However, the city is seeing many specialty coffee stores open, with local pioneers redefining the coffee culture once adopted from the Italians.

The first in town to set the bar high – coffee by day, concept cocktails by night – is Origo. It excels not only at its single-origin coffee, influencing the wider movement as a coffee roaster, but it’s also a social hub where communities are formed amidst Hario V60 coffee drippers repurposed as lamps and doorknobs. Plan ahead as tables fill up quickly, rain or shine.

With two Bucharest locations, its younger brother, Steam Coffee Shop (facebook.com/SteamCoffeeShop), caters more to coffee-to-go orders due to its small yet sleek interior. The friendly in-the-know baristas can make a suggestion or two. Across town in the swanky Dorobanți neighbourhood is Frudisiac (facebook.com/frudisiac), where the only hint that you’re in Bucharest, Romania, is your Google Maps location pin. Discreet but stylish, the Scandinavian barn structure exudes Nordic vibes in every corner. Pair your Drop Coffee directly from Sweden with a mean avocado toast, a cold-pressed juice and a copy of Monocle.

With traditionally meat-based cuisine, heavy on the stomach as in most of Eastern Europe, Bucharest has turned to vegan food seeking healthier nutrition. Abiding by the creed of ‘we are what we eat’, Barca (restaurantbarca.ro) restaurant offers the most diverse raw vegan menu in town.

Marked with one, two or three stars – depending on the time it takes to make a dish – each order is prepared on the spot for utmost freshness. A former self-declared carnivore, owner and chef Ciprian Panait credits Barca for improving his life. Almond sushi is a plentiful raw vegan starter, along with a side of artichoke pesto. The cooked dishes, however, cleverly fool and tingle your taste buds. The usually hearty ciorba de burtă (tripe soup) is an honest replica of the original, only mushrooms replace the tripe and cashew cream replaces dairy cream. Similarly, the ‘steak with French fries’ is a brilliant vegan alternative with grilled oyster mushrooms doubling as steak, and celery sticks as fries.

Recently opened Arome (aromesisunete.ro) – named after the Romanian word for ‘flavours’ – comes as a hip alternative in the heart of Bucharest. A bright and cozy design of yellow hues goes in tandem with the fresh ingredients served in this urban cafe. Go for a colourful soup if only for the delight of being served from a teapot.