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Crusty just got crustier.

Byline: Rasheed Islam

Tucked away in Khalidiya in the Rawdah District is Crusty, the latest arrival on the cafe/bakery scene in Jeddah. A Viennese cafA would probably be a more appropriate way to describe Crusty - in German that's Wiener Kaffeehaus and these remain popular in Vienna and play an important role in the culture there.

Unlike some other cafA traditions around the world, it is completely normal for a customer to linger for hours and read the newspaper in the Kaffeehaus. Something many of us have little trouble doing, even more so with the free WiFi Crusty offer for customers. That said, the newspaper rack was a little bare; it would be great to see some more newspapers and quality magazines.

Taking pride in its coffee, Crusty focuses only on the best Viennese coffee and serves Julius Meinl who has been making coffee for over 145 years! The Austrians certainly have had some time to perfect things; the first coffeehouse in Austria opened in Vienna in 1683 after the Battle of Vienna, by using supplies from the spoils obtained after defeating the Turks.

Along with coffee, the waiter in a Viennese cafA will serve an obligatory glass of cold water and during a long stay will often bring additional water unrequested. This is exactly what happens at Crusty. The idea I am told is to clean your palate before the first sip. The waiters are always very friendly, attention to detail is superb and the coffee well worth the visit.

However if it's food you want, the coffee shop/ petisserie also has an extensive menu which serves a variety of meals and beverages with dishes such as Cream of Asparagus Soup, Chicken Caesar Salads and freshly-made quiche.

The Bakery also seems to be pulling in the crowds; Crusty Bakery includes Baguettes, Sweet & Savory Filled Pastries, fresh Croissants, all of which are unlike anything you might have come across in Jeddah. Try the German Pretzels (baked fresh each day) they're super, as is the lemon mint drink.

If you have a sweet tooth, there are plenty of Austrian & German treats to satisfy it. Pastries include Raspberry Vanilla Strudel, Cinnamon Sugar Swirls, Nut Nougat Croissants, Creme Brule and the famous Date Cake.

Breakfasts on offer include international, American, continental and local selections which are great for an early morning bite. Being a bit of a health fanatic, I hope to see some healthier options in the future - such as skimmed yogurt, muesli & fruit salad etc. Unfortunately there is not a non-smoking designated area, which could be difficult for non-smokers. Be warned the breakfasts are increasingly popular here, such that I was unable to sit down on my last trip there. Another branch is now open in Basateen Mall and that should help ease the pressure.

Home Delivery Service is also available. Tel 9200 2 66 33.

(Rasheed Islam is a food critic who hosts

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Oct 24, 2008
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