Monday, August 27, 2007


“Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.”
-Boris Pasternak
Sometimes, tourists are the primary audience for a post.

Sometimes, a post is more for people who live in Prague.

This time, the audience is far more narrow and select: Residents of Prague's Upper Vršovice neighborhood.

When Nanocafé opened on Kodaňská a few months back, I found it rather surprising. I wondered what the people behind it were thinking.It is a cafe the size of a phone booth, with four tables and a few stools inside. Out front, there are four tables surrounded by straw mats sitting under a big Hoegaarden umbrella. It is near the Slovinska bus stop, but it is a relatively quiet residential area, so I imagined the potential for foot traffic would not be high.

I walked by it many times, but I never gave it a second look. Which is where V comes into the picture. She is preternaturally curious and, one day, stuck her head in the door. And what she saw impressed her. Nanocafé serves her favorite beer in the world: Leffe Blonde.

Certainly, the attachment is somewhat sentimental. V spent a good deal of time working in Brussels.

Nanocafé serves it from a .3 liter bottle for 49 CZK, which is pretty steep. But we rationalized that it wasn't too bad because that is about the same price we've seen it selling for at Delvita. And when it comes to love, money is no object.

Another surprise was that the place is run by a cool and friendly young couple. We stopped by late one evening for a drink. Around midnight, we asked what time they closed.

"10 o'clock," we were told. "But we'll stay open later if we feel like it."

Another night we started there around 10 pm and were told they wouldn't stay open until midnight, like last time. Still, we were asked if we wanted another round at 11 pm. Our kind of place.

They told V that she is really their only Leffe Blonde customer. So, she'd better keep drinking it significant quantities.

Even I, very unexpectedly, fell for a new beer. Nanocafé sells Primátor Weizenbier, which is brewed in Náchod. It is a top-fermented, light-coloured wheat beer with unfiltered yeast.

They serve it with a wedge of lemon at the top of a tall Primátor glass, but I think it has a very nice tartness on its own and a slight honey sweetness. I just love it. A great summer beer at 34 CZK per half-liter glass.

It is also sold by the bottle at Delvita. If memory serves, it was only around 17 CZK for a half-liter. A great alternative to the much pricier Hoegaarden.

Nanocafé also has Stella Artois at 34 CZK for a half-liter.

They have a small menu of snacks like Medovnik for 30 CZK, fruit cheesecake for 40 CZK, and panini. And, of course they have espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes for between 24 and 39 CZK. There is a long list of teas to choose from for 24 CZK, including green lychee. They have banana, strawberry, blueberry or vanilla milkshakes for around 36 or 38 CZK. I even saw pear cider (34 CZK) and ginger beer (29 CZK) on the menu.

We asked the young woman in charge how the business was doing. I was surprised when she said they were actually making the most money from the coffee business.

One big reason, she said, is that there is a no smoking policy. They get many mothers from the area coming by during the day with their baby carriages to socialize or just sit outside. They also have free Wi-Fi.

I have been especially surprised in the last few weeks to see that Nanocafé has grown relatively popular. Or as popular as a place can be with seven or eight tables. They are often full and people stand around drinking and socializing by the door.

If more than two or three people reading this decide to drop by, they probably won't even fit. Just so you know.

I asked them how they will survive the winter if 50 percent of their tables are outside. They said they will try to keep the tables warm with heaters.

I have to admit, I'll be surprised if they'll be able to deal with the cold weather and keep the business going strong.

Then again, I've found that Nanocafé is full of surprises.

Kodaňská 22
Prague 10


Pivní Filosof said...

Looks like a really nice place. I wish them luck. Now, I have really mixed feelings about those heaters. Waste of energy, in my opinion, and it seems to me rather silly to want to sit outside in November.
Now to the beers. Great that they serve that Primator Weizen, it's a lovely beer, and at a good price. Now charging the same for Stella!!! That beer is even worse than Staropramen 10!!! Leffe and Hoegaarden are ok beers, but a bit overpriced given that you can get much better stuff from local breweries, at least these ones are different, though.
PS: I don't know if people will be able to find Primator Weizen or Leffe at Delvita anymore once it finishes morphing into Billa. I went to their shop in Dejvice a few days ago and they didn't have anything, not even COAL!!! Granted that they were a week from closing down a few days for renovations, but I do not expect it to be better. Just one more reason not to shop at supermarkets

Anonymous said...

ok, you have convinced me to try the Primator. I have been shying away from the Primator range because of the dreaded 'E' number on the ingredients list (all I can think is chemical after taste). I'll give it a go and let you know - I'll review it ;). Cheers!

Brewsta said...

Yeah, but without heaters (which may or may not work well enough), what else can they do? The inside space is the size of a closet.

Leffe is very expensive. It seems people only drink it for sentimental reasons in Prague.

I'll drink Stella sometimes if that's all there is on offer. I like quality, distinctive beers, but in the end, I'm not the most discriminating.

At Nanocafe, I've had nothing but Primator. But I know that Belgians laugh when people outside their country treat Stella like it is anything special.

Now, I must go to Delvita and by up the last of their Primator Weizenbier stocks. I already waited too long and missed out on the last of their chocolate chip cookie stock.

Brewsta said...

Cool, David. There's just something about it for me. Let me know if I am crazy. Oh, and I won't vouch for any other beer in their line -- haven't tried them.

Pivní Filosof said...

Primator only adds the E stuff to their bottled beers. The same beers on tap are usually unpasteurised.
Anyway, chemicals or not, their 16° is a nice bottled beer and the E's don't leave any aftertaste, and the Double is fantastic for cooking. Now, their Polotmavé 13° and their English Pale Ale are simple great beers, bottled or not.
About Stella, if its up to me, I simply avoid places that serve it. I have a personal issue with it. I think InBev has devaluated the quality of Staropramen (never a great beer to begin with) in order to tout that mediocrity brewed in Slovakia (havent got anything against slovak beers, Šariš is a nice lager); which that is an InBev policy around the world. Kill the local brand to sell their crap more expensive.