I’ve always known that the perfect café in the mountains is not just a platonic ideal. One just has to search long and hard enough.
Ever since my husband and I met, eons ago, we’ve been looking for that café. We’ve found good ones, better ones, nearly perfect ones. But none of them was absolutely perfect.
I couldn’t tell you in advance what it takes to make a café perfect, but I knew I’d recognize perfection when I found it. And when we finally found it last month it was not at all like anything I had imagined.
The café is called simply Dolce, and it’s on the main road at the northern end of the village of Lakones, a few miles north of the resort town Paleokastritsa, on the island of Corfu.
Dolce juts out from a cliff, high above the amazingly blue waters and tiny coves of Paleokastritsa. The building is modern and sleek, with glass paneling to allow a full view. There are wooden and wicker chairs at marble-topped tables, but there are also plenty of wicker sofas with comfortable cushions. Maximum comfort, gorgeous view.
The view from the rooftop seating was even better, and unmarred by the faux-classical columns on the lower floor.
Besides the homemade ice cream, which we did not taste, this café has three kinds of baklava (served in sultan-size portions), rich-looking chocolate cake, three kinds of cheesecake, two kinds of apple torte, and an amazing array of other sweets, wrapped in gilt paper.
The baklava we chose, served on a large plate and surrounded with whipped cream and chocolate syrup (okay, we could have done without the additions), was flaky and just sweet enough. The Greek coffee, served in tiny white cups on wave-shaped porcelain saucers and with iced water on the side, arrived on a brass salver held from the top, the kind we’re familiar with from Jerusalem’s Old City. Though the salver was out of synch with the ultra-modern décor, it was charming. The background music was jazz, played at a comfortable volume. And the coffee was excellent.
Even the waiter, with his punk hairdo, was friendly. He took our picture as we stuck our heads through round holes to pose as a traditional Greek couple.
I could have stayed at the café for hours.
After we paid, the young owner gave us a map and two sweets wrapped in gilt paper for the road. We saved the sweets for later, and they, too—dark chocolate with nuts and bits of biscuits—were rich and wonderful.
If you’re ever in Corfu, run, don’t walk, to Dolce (tel. 26630 49278), in Lakones. Even plan a day’s outing around it.
Text and photos copyright 2011 by Esther Hecht. No part of the photos or text may be reproduced in any way without the express permission of Esther Hecht.