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Costello’s Travel Caffe
2222 NE Broadway
Portland, OR

You can go to Europe and buy a miniscule cup of cafe for a lots of Euros, or else you can go to Portland’s own, well, Costello’s own Travel Caffé and get a small cup of coffee for a small price, and pretend. OR, true to  European standards, get alcohol. The family-owned-and-run place has strong roots and  solid, quality old-school furniture—including rounded and square wooden tables with wrought-iron bases, as well as carved frames for the mirrors in the bathroom. International license plates decorate the main counter, and about 4 clocks are, of course, set to different time zones (Paris, Tokyo, etc.) in the back. I wondered about clock #3, however: What time zones divide the hour into thirds? A video silently plays on 2 separate screens; today’s feature appeared to be Amsterdam and its waterways and houseboats. An old suitcase plastered with travel decals (similar to the ones my grandparents picked up around the world in the 1920’s, when steamship travel and trains reigned) sits in the hall to the bathroom, and travel brochures are on the bathroom walls. Travel posters and pictures decorate the walls of the main room. The older building has lots of front windows, a few of which are stained glass, and tall ceilings and hanging lights. In the back is a kitchen which can be peeped into through a round glass window in the swinging door. My hope was to see the well-known pastries being made, just like the apple streudel in Vienna, but I got only a couple of friendly smiles when I glanced into the kitchen. Out front of Costello’s Travel Caffe were seating (small metal tables and chairs) and an umbrella, making it even more Continental.

Fare:  coffee $1.40, pastries, beer, and big pieces of delicious-looking pie. Expensive rhubarb-custard pie, but delicious. My resistance crumbled, and I tried it, actually believing the sign said $3.50, not $5.50.  When I said I thought it was $3.50, I had the distinct feeling that the server thought I was trying to scam him when he said, “You don’t have to buy it”. I should have simply eaten my mistake, and so I did.

Service and Clientele: The customers included several older folks and some younger ones, even a woman with young children.  Not all were playing with their laptops or mobiles, as they say in Europe. Imagine!

Bathroom:  Walls were lined with travel brochures, and a lovely mirror graced the wall. I felt elegant just gazing into this mirror.

Rating:  3.5  (of 5 possible)  coffee beans

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