I’ve always been fond of Karoliny Svetle, that little street tucked away behind Smetanovo nábřeží. It’s already home to some great places to grab a drink. There’s Duende, a cool café bar with an eclectic interior. Atmosphere (a.k.a. Atmoška), a bustling pub with reasonable prices, table football and a large courtyard, is a firm favourite with locals and tourists alike. On the opposite side of the road, you can head to Hemingway’s Bar, where you can salute Ernest in style with a Daiquiri. Now’s there a new kid in town: Tempo Allegro.
I arranged to meet a friend there where we both planned to unwind after a hard day’s freelancing.
“So, what do you think?” I ask my companion once we’ve grabbed a table.
“It’s got ambience.”
She’s trying to be funny but she also happens to be right. Tempo Allegro might not be vast but what it lacks in size – there are only two small rooms, one with the main bar and another comprising of around four tables – it does make up for in charm, thanks to the the tasteful photographs of Italy and the wine bottles displayed on the wall.
Wine? Isn’t this meant to be a café review? Well, yes – but like many venues in Prague, Tempo Allegro aims to be something between a kavárna and a vinotéka. The upside of this combo is that you can have a glass of Chardonnay with a slice of cake or an expresso to help perk you up after a couple of Pinio Grigios. I decide to start off with a coffee and some pumpkin pie (69 CZK).
As a British lady, I can’t speak for this dessert’s authenticity but it tasted pretty good to me – not exactly a flavour explosion but it was pleasantly light and sweet. A French bulldog stares at me with big, pleading eyes while I eat but he doesn’t get even a crumb.
My cappuccino (48 CZK) was also good (but not outstanding) and came served with a biscotti. Apparently these very hard biscuits are perfect for dunking in a hot beverage. I’d prefer a digestive myself, but I suppose that wouldn’t be very Italian.
Around 6pm the lights are dimmed and mini lanterns illuminated with tea lights are strategically placed on the tables. My companion was right – creating the right atmosphere is clearly important to the owners of Tempo Allegro and at that moment the thought occurs that this would be an excellent place to bring someone on a first date.
Now my coffee’s gone, it’s time to sample the wine.There’s a range of reasonably priced Italian wines on offer – the waiter patiently explains the differences between the whites on offer and recommends one of the drier ones. So far, so good – until I remember that I’m taking antibiotics. I dash after him and explain: he is all smiles and suggests I have a non-alcoholic aperitif instead. Crodino (50 CZK) turns out to be sweet but not sickly and refreshing too. Okay, I’d rather be having that glass of wine but I’m grateful to sip on a soft drink that’s a little out of the ordinary. My friend reported that her Pinio Grigio was “nice”. As you can see, it’s sometimes best to leave the adjectives to the professionals.
Things were a little raucous in Tempo Allegro on our visit but I suspect that’s because – purely coincidentally, I might add – half of the Expats.cz office were there. I popped back the following week just to see how loud it would be without the Expats.cz team letting their hair down. However, my partner and I were forced to go elsewhere as there was a private wine tasting taking place. It seems that if you’re really keen to use this as the setting for after work drinks or your next romantic encounter, it’s best to call ahead to check the venue will be open and book a table.
Tempo Allegro, which has been open for just two months, offers something a little different to the other bars and cafes on Karolíny Světlé. I have no complaints but one suggestion: while there are some quiches and a plate of ham and cheese to nibble on, a broader range of savoury food options would be welcome. Overall, I think that as a venue for a coffee or drink a few steps away from the Old Town’s tourist trail, you could certainly do a lot worse.
Is Tempo Allegro simply bellissimo? I’ll leave it to you to judge.
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