Narodni Trida 20
New Town, Prague
Prague is full of wonderful cafés, with many that rival those in Paris and Vienna.
Every day, Diana and I tried a new café, and sometimes we returned to a favourite one – all of them were excellent.
After a day of sightseeing and mad whirl shopping, we chose Café Louvre as our venue to recoup and refresh.
This place serves top quality coffee, including Viennese coffee, Algerian coffee, Mafioso (cappuccino with Amaretto), and various types of hot chocolate, with coffee, with ice cream, with rum and whipped cream, with egg liqueur and whipped cream, you get the idea.
I ordered a double espresso and a warm apple strudel with vanilla and chocolate sauce and whipped cream – the last time I had apple strudel this great was in Cortina, Italy about 20 years ago.
The pastry was light, flaky and not too buttery; the minced apples had just the right blend of cinnamon, sugar, and nuts, and the whipped cream, oh, the whipped cream! Light and airy, it melted in my mouth as soon as it reached my tongue. This dessert wasn’t sweet or heavy, and the mix of vanilla and chocolate sauce was perfect. I also liked the little bits of walnut on top of the cream. And unlike the strudel in Cortina, I took loads of photos of this exquisite dessert.
Diana, who, unlike me, does not eat dessert every time she orders coffee, had the pea cream soup with mint, potato, and bacon. She said it was absolutely delicious. There’s a dab of mashed potato in the middle, and lovely croutons throughout.
This is a great place to have breakfast, lunch or dinner (vegetarian meals are included, a rarity in Prague). There is a large non-smoking room upstairs, which was a nice respite for us, as cafés and pubs in Prague tend to get very smoky and uncomfortable.
Café Louvre is open from 8am every day; and offers morning newspapers.
Established in 1902, at a time when coffee houses were rampant in Prague, Café Louvre was able to differentiate itself from the rest: it was the biggest café in the entire Austro-Hungarian empire, covering several floors; it was also the first café with electric light bulbs, no longer lit with candles; the Louvre also had the first public salon where ladies could meet: until this point, ladies met in salons at home, as it was not common for them to be seen in society in cafes or restaurants, and certainly not alone.
The café soon became a meeting place for intellectuals such as Franz Kafka and Albert Einstein. It was also a venue for students who could enjoy long drinks of coffee and discuss topics of interest. I was reminded of this as I was enjoying my meal at the café with Diana: in the non-smoking area where we were seated, there were about 2 dozen students who were working on a school assignment.
Café Louvre was closed in 1948 by the communists because of its “bourgeois” character; its interior fixtures were flung out the windows and onto the street outside, and the space was used as offices. It wasn’t until it reopened in 1992 that its devastated premises underwent a major reconstruction. While trying to keep the flavour of the past, the present café is a much smaller version from the original which even had a celler wine bar. Today, it offers 3 separate rooms (including the non-smoking room), an outdoor summer terrace, and a billiards room with 5 large tables.
Free wi-fi is also available.