28 May 2011

Prague's Grand Cafés - Kavárna Slavia

Sit anywhere you like.

Coffee on a silver tray.
No paper sleeves.
No sippy-cups.
No to-go.
No rushing.

Coat racks.
Big windows.
Wood.  Glass.  Tile.  Mirrors.  Detail.

Board games.
Piano music...sometimes.
House-made desserts.

This is the blueprint for a Grand Cafe in Central Europe.

I want one of these in my neighborhood or even in my city, but no, I have to drive almost 3 miles just to find a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.  Ugh.

Kavárna Slavia (the oldest coffee house in Prague--1881) sits across from the National Theater and has great views of the Vitava river and Prague Castle.

When I arrived, the piano player was churning out a lovely Gershwin tune (They Can't Take That Away From Me).  Happy, I grabbed a seat by the window and poured over the menu.

I like the clean lines of Art Deco and that's this joint from top to bottom.

There were plenty of tables and the service was attentive without crowding. 

The menu dedicated a whole page to "Asparagus Season" with no fewer than 8 items designed around the Springtime spear, so I had to get something asparagus-y before diving into the dessert case.  I opted for this soup.  SO GOOD!

It may not look like much but it was fantastic.  Hidden in this beautiful green puddle was sour cream, roasted asparagus bites and tender Parma ham slivers finished with lemon oil and black truffle shavings.  I can't say enough for this soup.

After seeing Jello topping cakes in dessert cases all over town and wincing every time.
Why Jello?

I had to know.

When the time came I went to the case of tasty treats. Everything was numbered for easy ordering.  I chose big, red, Number 5--in the back on the right. 

Number 5 - from the bottom up
  • Two layers of vanilla sponge cake (one thicker than the other) separated by strawberry jam.  
  • Plain pastry cream took the middle position.  I expected vanilla, but I didn't taste it.
  • On top was a melange of berries held together by gelatin.  The gelatin was NOT Jello!  It wasn't sweet, was more firm and it wasn't awful like I thought it would be.  In fact, I get it now, the gelatin serves two purposes: 1) to hold the berries in place so it's easier to slice and 2) it seals the cake keeping it moist and fresh. 

    The craziest thing to me about this cake was that separately the components weren't terribly tasty, but when I slid my fork through all the layers and took a composed bite it was really light and flavorful.  Soft, creamy and lightly fruity.  Hmmm.

    1 comment:

    1. Anonymous30 May, 2011

      Ridiculous stomach yearning pictures Jennifer...I want that cafe in my home town too!