Friday, July 30, 2010

Cafe Medúza


How to get there : Belgická 17, Vinorahdy (Praha 2) The place is a little hidden behind the trees - I usually go to Náměstí Míru (Metro - green line) and walk down Belgická until hitting the rather unspectacular door (even at my speed this is not more than 5min walking).
If you like the feeling of an old attic, the Medúza might be the right choice – lots of old pictures on the wall and the adjoining gallery features photography and paintings from mostly Czech artists. MED112The interior is a mix of mismatched tables complete with antique sugar bowls, chairs, glasses and a clientele, that ranges from arty intellectuals to curious grandparents. It’s like some old fashioned UK pub mixed up with some contemporary art old school Czech style – all in all a rather enjoyable mix.

The menu is small but cheap and solid and the service is like it used to be in small neighborhood bar.

The Medúza easily turns into a party place after 10 pm – depending on the mix of people and the density. As it is a small place it fills up quite quickly during the evenings, – make sure you reserve a table if you plan to go there in the evening with friends.

Opening hours : Mon-Fri: 9h00 – 01h00, Sat&Su :12h00 - 02h00

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My glass is empty

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Bar Bresto


Bresto is a tiny wine bar just a few steps further up on Stepanska from the Cafe 35. The thing that I like most about Bresto is the fact that there is quite a nice selection of wine they sell by the glass; no need to invest in a bottle of Côtes du Rhône just to find out it is not quite your taste. There is also a restaurant attached – if you feel like having proper lunch – but I never had the chance to give it a try.

What I did test were the starters they offer in the wine lounge – nothing very exciting but clean and fresh and the service was impeccable (the prunes in bacon are my favourite). If you liked your glass of wine you can also buy the wine on the spot – not cheap but a decent choice of mainly French & Italian wine. 3000950461_5462af0130

Bresto also offer a large choice of coffee beans to taste and buy – again I am no good at it  – so you will have to test it for yourself. 

Bresto is a nice place for a quick glass of wine (or two) with your wife or girlfriend and it is definitely the place to have an “apéro” * with friends before diner or to get ready for Prague’s nightlife.

*French :  sort of a “late-afternoon, pre-dinner cocktail” – but then French would tell you that it is a whole concept …

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cafe 35

Location: in the French Institute in Prague (IFP), Stepanska 35 = a perpendicular street to Wenceslas Square – real easy to find : look to for hotel “Radison” and continue to go up until you see a French flag on the left side ! The entry looks a little stiff – don’t be shy enter and follow the colored marks on the floor that say “Cafe 35”. 

Cafe 35 at the French Institute is a great place to stop for a coffee or for having a quick and healthy (other than klobasa) lunch if you're near the Wenceslas Square. You can find the French daily press and a little French / Czech ambiente. Particularly pleasant during the summer is the outdoor terrace in the inner court. Beer comes only in bottles - but the wine is quite nice (and inexpensive) and no need to explain the waitresses how to prepare a Pastis.ecriture

Open just during the day (see below) it sometimes stays open later when there are cultural events (sorry French / Czech only). There are two major cultural highlights each year I would like to mention:  the “Fête de la Musique” each 21st of June and the French Cinema Festival. If you can make it to the Fete de la Musique – don’t miss it – it’s usually crowded but the bands (Jazz, Electro, Rock, Folk) playing live are always high quality and of course it’s for free. 

Cafe 35 is a nice and decent place - perfect for reading and writing and meeting people (French speaking) or for a quick bite & espresso. For my taste it is a tiny little too calm  and reserved - but if you need some place to rest and relax for an hour - it might be the perfect place. And once rested you can go ahead and have a glass of wine at the Bresto Bar - just a few steps away.

Opening hours:  Monday-Friday: 8h30-20h00  Saturday: 10h-14h Free Wifi Hotspot (a rather good one!)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hapu Bar


Orlicka 8. Take the tram n11 and get off at Radhoštská - walk a few steps on Vinohradská (west) until you hit the intersection with Orlická (look for the VZP building on the corner) if you hit the intersection with Baranova you probably went east - so turn around. By metro : Hapu is roughly halfway between Flora and Jirího z Podebrad. 

I am not sure if you can do any better than the Bar Hapu spending  a quiet evening with friends (no more than two or three as space somewhat limited) in this tiny bar. The Hapu bar being located between Zizkov and Vinorahdy has a quite unique flair - hard to describe - I think of it as a place where people and cocktail get mixed.  I find it hard to describe it - test it for yourself !  

The choice of cocktails is delightful even if it might give a little nasty headache when ingested in excessive quantities. There are some 50 different cocktails - state of the art - and skillfully preped by the friendly team of barmen / bar-women.

 If you are looking for a well balanced Manhattan or a the perfect White Russian - this is the place to go ... order, drink, enjoy!

The clientele comes from the closer neighborhood quite a few regulars. Nice mix of expats and Slovaks (maybe because the well known bartender - Martin Streško - is Slovak?) and a few more reserved Czechs - a mix that turns out to work quite well.  

Hapu Bar is a very friendly place where you feel immediatly at ease. Behind a curtain and a few steps leads into a small room that is bathed in a pleasing soft light, with four or five tables and comfortable seats (a little odd and shabby looking but it does not matter).

It is always full without being stuffed, with a certain turn-over between bar and tables, people are  open and friendly and most do speak English, hence a good place to meet folks if you do not master the Czech language ... or simply the place to take your friends out enjoying a few drinks.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Café Louvre

Location: Narodni 116 same street as the national theatre and Cafe Slavia
Getting there: Metro line B station Narodni Trida, tram lines 9, 22, 23 and many others also stop at "Národní třída". Otherwise - Café Louvre is a ten minute walk from Wenceslas Square.

Finally a place that has some class! So far I've mostly taken you to places a little dirty, roots and a little underground - I have to admit it.If you come to Prague with your girlfriend and you have inflicted her Ujezd and Parukarka you can't try to make it up with an invitation to the Café Louvre.

After having a fresh shave and armed with an well ironed shirt - maybe this pretty pinstriped shirt that Mommy bought a few years ago for oral exams - you are ready for the  "Louvre". But before and  in order to impress your girlfriend as well as to show her that you too have come to Prague for the culture - read the section below and try to recall a few highlights.

Café Louvre is all glamour  - established on the first floor of a "city palace" overlooking the very busy Narodni Street, the cafe has been opened in 1902. The list of important people that have been the cafe's guest since is quite impressive : Franz Joseph, Masaryk, Heydrich, Einstein, Gottwald, Dubcek and Vaclav Havel.

The servers impeccably stylish - providing an efficient service - while you can relax on one of the many black leather benches - informing your interlocutor negligently that Franz Kafka and his friend Max Brod (Kafka's sponsor) used to come to this place - as it was very popular among intellectuals of the time.

If you want to see authentic decor you will need to go to the "Cafe Slavia" - The Louvre has been entirely rebuilt, probably in the 90s. It's probably more comfortable but less picturesque. 

The specialties of the establishment are the Lavazza espresso or cappuccino Segafreddo - but dont worry we are in the Czech Republic, they 'll serve you a beer if you really want one. My girlfriends swears by the pancakes with fresh berries & cream ... but hurry - around 11h30 the menue changes to "Czech lunch style".

So, what can I say? Café Louvre is good place to pause in while taking a stroll through the city. But if the atmosphere is nothing special, some white-collar for lunch or after work and a lot of tourists.

If you like playing billiard however this might be your spot. Five big billiard tables  nicely  aligned in a nice calm area near the end of the main room at the right - beautiful tables from what I can tell. 

So tonight so you can drop the shirt - go to the "El Dorado" - after having committed half a day  to Prague's Café ritual. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bukowski's Bar

Initially my intention was not to write about "expats" bars ... I'll make an exception here as the place is remarkable and because I was involved in the first bar fight in Bukowski's (the barman said so - I gather I can trust him on this) The fighting went well  -  we managed to separate the two friends of ours (something about each respective girlfriends breast size got the two of them into a heated discussion) and we had a few more cocktails to settle the topic... without any real damage. 

How to go there : by Tram Lipanská - follow Lipanská uphill turn right into Bořivojova and keep walking for about 4 min until you reach Bukowski's. 

Bukowski's is owned by Glen Emery - There is an interview that retraces some of his stories during the wild 90's in post communist Prague. And then there is his blog ... 

Bukowski's is one of the few cocktail bar I know off that offers good cocktails. In  fact I would say they are exceptional - even garb one every now and then (I prefer wine). The atmosphere is cosmopolitan open minded and the staff is remarkable. They are open late (3am if I recall it right) it s a good place to chill out with your friends if you are too lazy to go to one of the music bars or good starter to get in shape before.

I like the mix : poeple between  from early 20 to late 40 - 7 languages spoken by the 15 guests and a waitress that smiles if she does not understand. There is a a low-lit back room with comfortable sofas on the left if you need some intimacy.