Those of you with an aversion to reviews crammed with superlative praise, click away now.
The thing is, I’m a little bit in love with Café Jen.
Located on Kodaňská in Vršovice, Café Jen is the new kid on the block in a neighbourhood which already has its fair share of hip hangouts. Shakespeare and Sons may have moved elsewhere but there’s Sladkovský, Cafe ve Lese (which despite the name, isn’t in the woods at all) and Coffee Source, to name but a few. However, with its simple but stylish interior – Stripes! Lots of them! – friendly service, homemade cakes and very good coffee, Café Jen has won my heart forever.
Step inside the interior and you’ll see stripped down chic is the order of the day, with a pleasing attention to those little details that give an independent coffeehouse its unique character. The counter is illuminated by four or five lightbulbs hanging on a long red flex – the effect is pretty rather than post-industrial, I promise – and there are plenty of Breton stripe cushions scattered around too. Overall, it’s an attractive space to spend time in that isn’t overly kitsch or feminine – in keeping perhaps with ‘Jen’ which is not, as I mistakenly thought, a girl’s name at all: it’s actually short for Honza.
The same attention to detail can be seen in what’s on the menu: I couldn’t resist a cupcake decorated with a single fresh cherry (38 CZK). A pastry case filled with whipped cream, it was light, sweet and perfect for summer. The ginger lemonade (28 CZK) was served with a red and white paper straw – Stripes! Again! Spiral ones! – a delightfully retro touch. My cappuccino (42 CZK) was made with organic milk and came with a tiny bowl of sugar which looked almost like honey. This was because it had been melted in expresso to infuse it with extra caffeine. And I have to say that cappuccino was very good: according to the menu, the blend was ground at Has Been in England by Steve Leighton, a legend in the coffee world.
Café Jen also has a small but perfectly formed terrace out front. It’s a good venue for an al fresco glass of wine if you can grab a table: I was tempted to go for a bellini but in the end I went for the less decadent house white (38 CZK) – cuvee Rulanské šede a Muller Thurgau, apparently. It was palatable enough but not outstanding: there’s more expensive vino too though which I turned down so I can’t complain.
Any other grumbles? Well, as someone with a sweet tooth, I’m glad to see all the cakes are homemade but it would be nice if there could be a bigger selection of them. That’s it. I have no other complaints or pointers for improvement.
Café Jen is the secret I didn’t really want to share. Perhaps I should have given it a dreadful review just so you’d stay away and I could keep this place to myself forever.
Kodaňská 37, Prague 10
Smoking: No (except on the terrace outside)
Brand of coffee: Has Bean
Serves food: Yes
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8.30am–9.30pm; Sat-Sun 9.30am–9.30pm
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