Article By Stephen Robinson
4F, No, 69, Yanta North Rd.
Average Price per Person /人均消费: 30RMB
Two of the great joys in life are coffee and wine. Coffee picks you up and makes you more productive, getting you through those long days, or just providing warm punctuation to your morning or afternoon routine. Wine is perfect for relaxing or celebrating, a perfect pairing for the finer times of life. What’s more is that both coffee and wine are expressed through innumerable varietals, with each grape and bean varieties expressing themselves in different ways that can make the study of those differences extremely interesting. That is what happened with Kathy, one of the owners of Vincup, a new café on the Xi’an scene.
Kathy studied in Toronto, Canada, learning how to be a sommelier. During the time spent abroad, she learned to love the vast intricacies of the wine trade, and also dipped her toes into other areas of the food world, learning more about coffee, baking and other types of food. Upon returning to Xi’an following her studies, she noticed that there were very few offerings when it came to high quality wine in Xi’an. So with few fellow former study abroad students, they decided to open up Vincup.
Located near to the Wanda shopping mall on Yanta North Road, this place may be hard to spot if you don’t know to look for it. Tucked away in the corner of a plaza dominated by street-food style restaurants and a large Vanguard supermarket, this sleek and stylish café is located on the fourth floor of the building. If you’re not into taking the stairs, they also have an elevator that will whisk you up to a hidden oasis. The café has a large outdoor deck that is enclosed by a wall that allow you to see the sky above, but doesn’t distract you with the views of the street. Due to the location in the corner of the plaza, it is also relatively silent in the courtyard, with no excess noise to disturb your nice mug of coffee or glass of wine.
This outdoor space connects to the inside of the café via large windows that allow lots of natural light to suffuse the interior. It’s easy to see that a lot of thought and consideration went into the design of this place. From the chairs and sofas to the art on the walls, each element seems to be in the right place to evoke a feeling of chic comfort. There are plenty of tables here, but they are not too close together, meaning that you won’t be accidentally rubbing shoulders with other patrons while sipping away.
The menu is pretty straightforward, with a selection of espresso-based drinks, as well as some more unique creations. The first drink up was an iced Americano, which also happens to be my go-to order in most places. This was soon followed up with one of their more creative creations, a Misty Forest, which was a combination of bourbon, cold brew coffee, lemon, dried orange, honey, and rosemary. I was told that the rosemary was grown right outside on the deck. The drink itself was refreshing, and I could easily see myself downing several of these on a warm summer afternoon. The only issue was that the drink was over too soon, and it was dangerously easy to drink.
I also had the opportunity to sample some mulled wine that they made, using a house made concentrated spice syrup to add the warm depth that you would expect from mulled wine. I was told though, that this drink might soon be rotating off the menu, as the weather warms, in favor of more spring and summer time fare.
However, coffee beverages and cocktails aren’t the only thing on offer at this establishment. The Vin in the name stand for wine, and there are plenty of wines on offer, including, thankfully, wine by the glass. If you’re unsure as to the kind of wine you’d like to drink, the staff would be more than willing to help share their knowledge with you. They also plan to host regular wine tastings to better impart the knowledge that they have acquired during their study abroad.
In addition to a great drink selection, Vincup also offers up a wonderful array of expertly crafted desserts, courtesy of Fiona, who studied in Paris and worked at a Micheline starred restaurant before returning to her hometown of Xi’an. The desserts not only show the excellent craft that you’d expect from a great pastry chef, but also offer a unique combination of flavors and textures. For example, the strawberry tiramisu is a beautiful dish of strawberries, cream, crème pat, strawberry Beefeaters gin, coffee, and lady fingers, with a ring of pumpkin seeds around the top. The flavors were spot on, without any one overpowering the others.
The second dessert was a delicate mango and cream mille-feuille with rosemary. I wouldn’t have expected rosemary to work with mango, as they both have such a strong piney flavor to them, but it turns out that they do, with the freshness of the rosemary cutting through the cloying nature of the mango. It was a surprise, to say the least.
The overall impression that you get from Vincup is of a quiet retreat, at least at the time that I went there. There is something that is at once fashionable yet comfortable about the place, and the art, as it turns out, was partially created by the members of the team or their friends. They talked for a while about their plans to host art shows and other events in the café, which it seems well-suited for.
So, if you’re looking for a place to get away from the city without having to stray too far, then this is the café for you. There is plenty to try and the menu will continue to change and evolve over time, and with the team that they have in place, they are sure to do great.
Stephen Robinson is the editor-in-chief at xianease and would love to get your thoughts on everything we are doing. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org