Friday, April 6, 2007

Café Louvre

Albert Einstein spent so much time in cafés, one has to wonder where he found the time to figure out the secrets of the universe. Apparently, he’d rather talk about politics than physics.

Like me.

In Zurich, he favored Odeon Café. In Prague, he spent time at Café Louvre. Franz Kafka and Karel Čapek also went there.

Like me.

You know what they say about great minds.

Café Louvre was founded in 1902, but the coffee house disappeared under Communism. Too bourgeois.

These days, it is going strong. It obviously underwent a restoration in more recent times. The paint may be a little bright, but the room is not overly ornate. It does feel like a real, working café instead of a museum or Disney ride.

In fact, if you have an eye for spotting Czech celebrities, politicians and other movers and shakers, you may see a few on any given afternoon. The tourists are easier to spot. It is usually pretty full.

There are, of course, a variety of coffees. The food menu is not exactly Czech, but does center on dishes that appeal to the Czech palate. There is rabbit with white wine, lamb with rosemary, duck with mandarins, pork tenderloin with bacon, steak with pepper sauce, and goulash.

It’s a meaty place, but they do have a few fish, pasta, and vegetarian options. They do breakfast, but the choices aren’t too wide if you don’t like basic omelets or scrambled eggs. There are also sausages, cheeses, and cakes.

Of course, they also have desserts to go with your coffee. The last time I tried the “Classic Sacher,” it was pretty dried out. Good it came with a lot of whipped cream.

But I don’t really go for the food. There is one thing on the menu that makes me a semi-regular: It’s called the “Louvre” hot chocolate (Horká čokoláda "Louvre").

I’ve had thick hot chocolate before, but I’ve never had thicker stuff than at this place. It’s exactly like chocolate pudding that is about to set. In fact, if you leave it too long, it will form a skin on top. It is very chocolaty, and sweet enough, but they give you two extra sugars on the side, just in case.

You also get a little spoon for stirring in the sugar, if necessary, and you can use it for scraping out the chocolate from the sides of the cup. That is very necessary.

It costs 42 CZK. A bottle of Mattoni sparkling mineral water is 34 CZK.

When I’m at Café Louvre, I’m usually not in the mood for all the meat, and I want a light snack to go with my hot chocolate. If I’m not there for breakfast, I almost always order the club sandwich (109 CZK).

There is nothing too special about this sandwich. It comes on double-decker white toast, but quite small, with bacon, lettuce, and tomato, slice egg, a piece of chicken breast and mayo. Each quarter is about three bites.

The toast, bacon, and chicken are cold. It could be a lot better. Still, I like it for some reason. Perhaps because Prague is not a club sandwich kind of town, and I need a fix from time to time.

The waiters are busy, but move fast. It’s usually not hard to get their attention as they pass. They’ll take you’re order, but a chef from the kitchen, dressed in whites, will bring your food out to you.

The dining room can get quite smoky, and the tables are fairly close together, so there is a good chance you’ll have a cigarette waved near your face. There is a separate room for nonsmokers, but it is not as nice to look at and doesn’t get so much light. I always sit in the smoking room, though I don’t smoke. There is a more modern-looking café downstairs.

If you come in the evening, you can shoot a game of pool at Café Louvre. There are five tables in the back room. It’s a popular place, though, so don’t expect to walk right in and get a table.

Café Louvre’s location is very central and convenient. The café is up some stairs from an entrance on Národní třída. It’s near Metro line B, many tram lines, and sits between Wenceslas Square and the National Theater.

So, you don’t have to be a genius to find it.

Café Louvre
Národní 22
Prague 1
Tel. (+420) 224 930 949


Anonymous said...

I have discovered recently their Fresh Mint Tea. Now I am in trouble - "Fresh Mint Tea or Hot Chocolate?", thats the question that needs to be sloved on every visit. ;(

Brewsta said...

Mint tea with lunch. Hot chocolate with (or for) dessert.

Pivní Filosof said...

Louvre is indeed a great place. Their apple strudl is something that every mortal should have once in their lives. And I must agree with you, their chocolate is simple wonderful, but.... and there are always buts, their svařák (mulled wine for you non czech speakers:) is horrendous. I thought that a place of that tradiction and category would have a proper svařák, but it turned out to be just some cheap wine warmed up with the espresso machine, with a couple of tired cloves and a tired bit of cinnamon added, all for the sweet price of over 40Kc. I can get a better one at the sausage stand in Vaclavak for 30Kc. Quite a dissapointment. Crap beer, too.
Anyway, lovely place. But I must say, that I like Meduza better

Anonymous said...

I actually ate in Cafe Louvre last night by coincidence. It was a pleasant place to sit and talk with friends -- we were in the back room. But the roast goose and dumplings I had were dried out and flavorless. Both women at my table ordered the ice cream for dessert, and one (not kidding) said it was the best ice cream of her life .. so they must be doing something right ... (just not with goose).

Anonymous said...

T - nothing wrong with chocolate mint. Order both!

Brewsta said...

The food is hit and miss. I've have had very few things on the menu. Usually, just breakfast or a sandwich. So, I won't vouch for anything besides the hot chocolate.

Anonymous said...

I miss going to Cafe Louvre, since moving back to the states from Prague. It is such a great place to go chill and read the paper or play pool. I agree about the food being hit or miss, but the atmosphere makes it always worth going.

Anonymous said...

Been to this place twice now and love it!!! The Svickova is really good as is their pea cream soup. Very cool comfort food.

HungryHugo said...

Finally made it, the choc is indeed fantastic, reminds me of italy. Cappucino flawless and creamy, the two different kinds of cheesecake we had were a bit sweet, but in each way very nice. wanted to try the soup but was already full, saw it on the neighbours table and that would really have been too much. next time, thanks for the tip :)