Anyone who follows me on my social networks knows that I love cigars. I often go to Tabacaria Africana, Tabacaria do Ouvidor, and Candice do Rio Design, where there is a personalized service, despite their differences.
I’ve always wanted to visit Esch Café, in Leblon. It is the only Casa Del Habanos in Rio de Janeiro; that is, it only sells Cuban cigars and has the seal of the government of Cuba, in addition to selling special editions of some brands. The main cities in the world have one, and Rio could not be different. It is noteworthy that there were two, one in the Center (which closed with the pandemic) and this one in Leblon. Obviously, I needed to meet, and the opportunity came when a friend set up a conversation on the spot.
The first thing that surprised me is that it looks more like a restaurant where tobacco is allowed than a tobacconist. The traditional tobacconist has a space for networking, where everyone can interact and talk, which happens frequently. At Esch, it seems that more people wanted to show up; it was just like a nightclub.
The lack of people smoking cigars was what bothered me. The only use of a tobacconist is smoking and drinking, not eating. Even because at Dias Ferreira, there is no shortage of restaurants.
The service also leaves something to be desired, especially for an environment that wants to be more sophisticated. An example is a blowtorch and the cutter made of plastic. Both come together with a clip. What performance is this? Does a place with an average ticket of R$400 have this lack of respect for the customer?
The lack of someone who understands cigars is something that is lacking. Perhaps the best ones at this are the ones I go to; the Africana seems to train all employees to talk about cigars. Ouvidor (the previous photo is of Leo Binder, owner of the store) is always on-site and teaches the secret of cigars. And at Candice, Marcos gives an excellent chat about all subjects. At Esch, when I asked about a cigar: “the tobacco is of better quality”… ok…
Not to mention the waiters, usually very detached and wearing a fake Panama hat that borders on sassy, ??trying to emulate a Carioquice that the place doesn’t exude. At Copacabana Palace, Panama´s Hat match much more.
The food is good; at least the filet mignon sandwich was great. It also has a nice list of whiskeys and other spirits. But as a cigar lover, I can buy some Cubans, but I don’t know if I would smoke any more there. Well, at least the company was great.