Rakvere is full of surprises. Maarja Nuut advised me to give Art Cafe a try; it turns out she's never wrong on matters of taste. A short distance away from the main square, Art Cafe is the kind of place a passing visitor like me would not find without prior guidance.
I went in to find modern furniture, low lighting and a genuinely classy edge. Although the Art Cafe is intended as both upmarket lunch place and a venue for an evening meal, the feel is definitely more along the lines of a restaurant.
I was very impressed by the clean, uncluttered feel of the decor. The outside of the cafe is a traditional wooden building, but inside it's like going forward half a century.
The art on the wall is by local painters; some of the works are for sale. It's a great way for people to publicise their creations.
I ordered the bacon quiche and a fresh orange juice, from a quite wide menu. All around me in the huge garden were families and couples enjoying their afternoon. It was placid, and the staff were confident, calm and polite - something I'd guess was the same at peak times; the management here seem to know what they're doing, and everyone seems well-trained and happy to be working there.
The food arrived quickly - within about 10 minutes of ordering. The quiche was made slightly differently to what was used to - it was thinner and slightly tougher, but this was probably intentional and due to a different pastry being used. It tasted fresh, and just crispy enough, with the bacon adding the requisite saltiness.
The whole experience left me feeling thoroughly relaxed. I suspect part of this might be the escape - getting out of Tallinn, when I can, and seeing the countryside and the seaside seems to give me a boost. But the surroundings, the food, and the people, helped enormously to contribute to my good mood.
Art Cafe, Lai 13, Rakvere
Was it expensive? No, not for the quality of the food - I paid around €7 in total, which compares very favourably to anywhere in Tallinn.
Would I go again? Yes - tomorrow, if I could!
When should you go there? Lazy afternoons, evenings out with friends, dates, anything.