I judge books by their covers. Or more specifically, cafés by their names. I know it might be a short-sighted approach, but I like a name with some provenance – something to do with the history of the area or building (such as Café Prádelna) or a cute rhyme (Cukr Káva Limonáda) or simply some indication that someone, somewhere has given serious thought to the matter. ‘Café Lounge’ is so boring I wanted to cry when Expats.cz suggested it as the subject of my next review – it sounds as if this Prague 5 establishment has been named as a mere afterthought.
My negativity was intercepted and thrown to one side, however, by a very nice woman who greeted me with a smile on arrival and asked me where I would like to sit. Within minutes I’d been brought a jug of iced tap water without even having to ask for it – an event so rare in Prague I almost asked if they actually meant it for me. A minute later as I was leafing through the extensive menu I spied a flat white (67 CZK) on offer – a coffee drink that is even less common in Prague than being offered free water. Within about seven minutes I had changed from underwhelmed to sitting up and taking note – this place feels quite different.
The coffees here are excellent, and also available to take away. Café Lounge serves Doubleshot coffee, which is fast becoming my favourite brew. The execution of every coffee I tried at Café Lounge was excellent: a flat white served in a glass tumbler, with a heart drawn into the foam and a delicate biscuit on the side; vacccum press coffee (95/125 CZK for a tricky arrangement that involved what looked like a high-school chemistry kit) was brewed and served at the table with stylish aplomb. Coffees and teas are all served with a suduko game to attempt which you sip, which is a charming touch.
Café Lounge offers a full food menu from breakfast through to snacks and main meals, as well as daily options. My pea and vegetable risotto (110 CZK) was excellent – complemented with lightly blanched spinach and cooked to a perfect al dente rather than reduced to glue. Hubby’s BLT (115 CZK) was generous and served with ‘good’ chips (he is a man of few words). Other dishes though, have failed to impress – a cheese plate (170 CZK) that was rather sparse considering the price, and a slightly limited cake menu for somewhere that describes itself as a café (lounge). My personal feeling is that if their ambitions are to be an excellent café, management at Café Lounge should scale back the extensive menu and focus on fewer, lighter dishes – the current menu is more suited to a full-scale restaurant, which is off-putting for those who only pass by for coffee and cake.
This café is a place of contrasts: a modern menu, hyper-technical coffee and trendy staff with media specs and funky haircuts are ‘off-set’ by sepia prints and old-world pictures and documents about the building in walnut frames. Floor-to-ceiling curtains and elegant arm chairs in the back room lend a luxurious, adult feel. It’s a splendid blend of the modern and historic, which given its location just under the Hunger Wall in the Lesser Quarter, it important.
Service here is impressive. Knowledgeable, friendly but un-intrusive, and able to fake-smile politely when my friend’s baby screamed the place down: the staff here are excellent.
A great experience and well worth the visit for something a little smarter than usual. It’s just a shame about the name.
Brand of coffee – Doubleshot
Wi-fi – Yes
Smoking – No
Serves food – Yes
150 00 Prague 5
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