Eavesdropping. Your mother taught you that it wasn’t polite, but it’s exactly what you are going to want to do at Café du Simplon. Located just a stone’s throw from the south eastern exit of the Lausanne Train Station, Café du Simplon attracts a fascinating crowd. Order a glass of red (we recommend the Cahors), listen in and enjoy stories from Théâtre de Vidy actors, philosophy students, eccentric older ladies, and local journalists. On the café’s back wall, a white, nearly invisible trace of an old Orient-Express train route (starting in London, stopping in Paris, then Lausanne and finally crossing Europe until Istanbul) offers a subtle homage to the sort of collective personality of the clientele: diverse, cultured, cosmopolitan.
White washed in an odour eliminating paint and only scarcely adorned, the walls of Café du Simplon seem prepared for the possibility that anything could happen. And indeed anything can happen. The place is known, for example, to spontaneously transform into a performing venue for artists or musicians and frequently hosts film showings. Some details are available on their website; however, in most cases, good luck scheduling your visit to coincide with these charming cultural events; often nothing is announced or marketed; word of mouth is the name of the game. This element of the unknown gives Café du Simplon a sort of intrigue that we’ve yet to find anywhere else in town.
Owner Zoran Kosutov is the man behind the mystery. Late one night this week, he sat with us over a glass of dark-cherry flavored red wine from Macedonia and explained the philosophy behind his success. “It’s not enough for a customer to leave a restaurant thinking ‘I ate well,’” he insisted. “I want my customers to leave and say, ‘I had a lovely evening,’ because a lovely evening implies that everything from the food to the ambiance to the service exceeded their expectations.”
When it comes to food, our expectations have been exceeded time and time again. The menu offers a variety of Mediterranean dishes, from North African Tajines (our favorite) to Italian pasta dishes to Greek grape leaves, making this a great place for groups with differing preferences. In addition to the standard menu, a seasonal menu keeps things even more interesting. This week’s pumpkin ravioli, for example, was a delicious and surprisingly light nod to one of fall’s best flavors.
We love this little café. If you haven’t already stumbled across it or been invited word-of-mouth to attend a spontaneous jam session, we heartily recommend that you add it to your list of places to try. Stop by with friends and let Zoran show you ‘a lovely evening’ or come alone for some people watching and eavesdropping. We feel rather certain that, like us, you too will become a regular.
Café du Simplon
Rue du Simplon 17
021 616 31 04