The reservations only area in Niavaran's coffee shop.
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I enjoy frequenting these ever increasing venues beyond my joy for mochas and cheesecake. In a country yet to be consumed by economic ideals I enjoy the flourishing independence. Yet mostly I enjoy the interaction with the Children of the Revolution, those who are incidentally here, getting on with it, yet, enjoying the slowly expanding gaps in limitation.
For this entry I've taken it upon myself to highlight a few of the more familiar venues and present a short review for each. There are a great many more venues throughout Tehran offering their own intriguing quirks and maybe at a later date I'll tackle this topic more extensively. But for now...
نیاوران Niavaran (the place/palace)
If one was to storm a coffee shop in Tehran, holding the customers to ransom, Cafe Niavaran might yield a result financially comparable to Iran-Contra. Due mostly to its location – near the gardens of the former Shah's palaces – Cafe Niavaran struggles to accommodate the less conspicuously clad offspring of Tehran's elite.
Well trained staff with well trained hair calmly present dangerously good cakes with surprisingly bad coffee. I'm sure that each capital city around Europe has their Niavaran, a chic modernist gap echoing a trendy beat from the rotating black and white photography exhibitions.
Although not a collection of coffee shops this single and relatively large coffee shop-cum-gallery is worthy of mention. Boasting indoor and outdoor seating with a private reservations-only section. Plenty of room to contemplate which came first: the coffee shop or art?
گاندی GANDI (himself)
People come here to think, or at least to look like they are. The most visually adventurous of the Iranian youth may be seen parading the courtyard testing convention as well as the range of treats on offer.
Ghandi hosts the largest collection of coffee shops in Tehran, housed in a small courtyard, some 8-venues coexist back-to-back. Between them they present a spectrum of bohemian sanctity ranging from should-wash-more to postmodern-eyesore. The most convincing and most frequented is commonly known as Cafe De France, seemingly due to the six incidental stickers on the exterior window and not the large sign above saying "Tara".
One's visit to Iran might be hugely enriched by sampling De France's, 'Cafe Dovel'. Augustus Gloop once had an incident with such a drink, resulting in similar financial repercussions.
آفتاب AFTAB (Sun)
Peacocks have fanned-feathers, baboons have pinked-rears and Aftab has high-hair. This small ring of coffee shops and fast-food joints sit at the bottom of a tall residential high-rise, a small walk from the estrogen-interchange that is Tehran's Vanak Square.
Girls studying boys studying girls studying boys studying each-other's hairA lot of research is carried out at Aftab, girls studying boys studying girls studying boys studying each-other's hair. It's a labour of love but I'm sure they do it for the greater good of humanity. I might suggest a field study at Cafe Shocolat where one can sip maybe the finest hot-chocolate in Tehran while observing an inexhaustible supply sculpted fringes.
فرشته FERESHTEH (Angel)
A small road decorated with a walking portfolio from Tehran's finest surgeons. Yet they must only claim credit for laying the foundations, the additional refinements courtesy of Daler Rownry and/or steroids are the work of the wearer.
Fereshteh is limited in venues and seemingly limited in parking spaces. Getting Daddy's Beema tucked-in can take a few circuits yet the trouble is made up for by the equally attended to cakes. Damn those cakes are good, as layered an creamy as the faces that scoff them.