Written by Laura Baranik
A funny thing happened during my lunch at Yessi Café.
I ordered a Niçoise salad. Upon its arrival, my lunch companion was so enamored by its appearance that she ordered one for herself. But when the second salad came, it looked markedly different from mine. It still had tuna and lettuce and some raw vegetables, but was without the other crucial ingredients – black olives and hard-boiled eggs.
“But I want that salad,” my friend moaned to the waitress, pointing at my olive- and egg-laden bowl. The waitress apologized and removed the offending dish, later bringing my friend a version much more similar to mine.
The slip-up is forgivable, if a little unnerving – especially for a café with such a high slickness factor. Yessi is owned by Pravda Group, which specializes in upper-scale fusion restaurants such as Pravda, Hot, and Barock; now they´ve decided to try their hand at running a casual and affordable lunch place.
Their new venture is calculated to suit both hungry tourists and on-the-go business people. Everything is available to go, and you can either order at the counter or opt for the pleasantly speedy table service. The offerings are standard lunch fare: soups, salads, and sandwiches, as well as some cakes and pastries.
Now, I have to admit that I was really rooting for Yessi to have some mind-blowing sandwiches. They come in a few different varieties – baguettes, tortilla wraps, grilled bread, and Scottish baps (a wide, soft bread roll). The afore-mentioned BLT is by no means mind-blowing, but it´s pretty tasty: a generous amount of lean bacon, a dollop of mayo and the ol´ LT on a bap. It´s good, but the bacon isn´t fried and the bap doesn´t come toasted. So a cold BLT, with all the right ingredients.
Then there´s the open-faced grilled sandwich with eggplant, tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil pesto, which owes no small part of its deliciousness to its crusty dark bread. But if I were to rewrite the menu, I´d make a little addition to this sandwich´s list of contents – I came out of there smelling like I´d just spent a few hours rolling around with a couple hundred cloves of fresh garlic. Sometimes people like to be given a heads up on that sort of thing.
If you find yourself fancying a variation not on the menu, you can have them make a sandwich or salad with your own choice of ingredients, a rare feature in Prague, and even more exciting because the ingredients at Yessi all seem as fresh as can be. They also offer two soups of the day (I sampled an excellent cream of mushroom), two or three kinds of quiche, and almost twenty different flavors of tea.
Given the variety, it´s the sort of place one wouldn´t mind eating at fairly regularly. The pleasant interior helps, too; they´ve sleekly incorporated the space´s imposing stone columns into a punchy lime-green and aubergine colour scheme. It all feels rather airy and surprisingly un-stinky. Looks like this is a non-smoking café! Cheers all around. Despite a few glitches, I´m pleased.
I first approached Yessi Café – whose slogan is “positive eating” – with some skepticism. Over the years, I´ve had some decidedly negative eating experiences at other Pravda Group restaurants (a couple of which are now on my long-term blacklist); they seem to have a nasty habit of raising prices and lowering standards concurrently. I can only hope that the same doesn´t happen with Yessi. At the moment, it isn´t perfect – but it´s definitely positive.