Café harkens back to First Republic

Šlágr in Prague’s Vršovice quarter has become popular due in part to its nod to pre-war café culture

Dana Alena 12.5.2011

Ve vitrině se nachází například sachr, který snese srovnání s vídeňským originálem. foto: Česká pozice

Ve vitrině se nachází například sachr, který snese srovnání s vídeňským originálem.

You must have sometimes seen chocolate, cheese, fruit and sponge cakes, cream puffs, cream rolls, pound cakes, meringues and various other types of cakes presented together. Yet in many places they are too sugary, the base tasted like sawdust, the cream contained a significant amount of shortening, and the synthetic whipped cream was either “vegetable” or, even worse, from a spray  can. Yet all the cakes in the showcase of Šlágr café in Prague’s Vršovice neighborhood are freshly baked and, in addition, exude mouth-watering aromas, strikingly reminiscent of the atmosphere of granny’s kitchen.

In Šlágr, the kitchen is situated in the subbasement, from where fresh confectionary gems are brought out at regular intervals. Each slice and cake is a prime example of top-notch confectionery craft with the seal of the First Republic. The Sachertorte, for example, openly and proudly avows this tradition by its very name: First Republic Sachertorte with Parisian whipped cream.

By the way, in our opinion, it tasted better than the original Viennese chocolate cake; the jam with which its layers are generously spread is truly divine. We were also bowled over by the first-rate genuine chocolate whipped cream that adorns the cake, although this conception need not necessarily be to the liking of orthodox connoisseurs. Moreover, the café manager asked us whether we wanted him to additionally garnish the cake with a mound of white whipped cream. 

Kavárna Šlágr

Francouzská 72/563, Prague 10

 Hours: Mon–Fri 8 a.m.–10 p.m.,

Sat–Sun 10 a.m.–10 p.m.

www.kavarnaslagr.cz

Other delights are the highly recommended, such as Viennese coffee and amazing outsized cream puffs. Excellent too is the cheesecake with raspberries and our current favorite, the chocolate cake with bananas. But this time we were just too full for further research. 

Just like home, but without the cleanup

Where else in Prague can you sit and have a chat with friends in a warm, cozy living room without having to spend hours preparing the refreshments in advance and washing up piles of dishes afterwards?

The good old days are also evoked at Šlágr by the framed period posters, pictures, lighting and mirrors, as well as the refined behavior of the café manager, clad in a spotless shirt, with slicked-back hair and sporting a pair of glasses in the style of big band leader  Ondřej Havelka. The good old days are also evoked at Šlágr by the framed period posters, pictures, lighting and mirrors

Wherever you sit, be it downstairs next to the cake showcase, mainly furnished with simple tables with marble boards and Thonet chairs or the fabulously cozy elevated section with a wooden floor, sofas, lounge chairs and seats, you will hear the sounds of swing or jazz, only intermittently punctuated by the strong growl of a coffee maker. The pleasurable impression is enhanced by modern, clean and wittily designed toilets.

Does Šlágr actually have any shortcomings? To tell the truth, not really. The upstairs section, designed fully in the logic of a true café hang out, may be for some a little bit claustrophobic in the daylight, while some of the couches are so wide and soft that in combination with the cakes you have eaten may make you feel drowsy.

The downstairs part has a remarkable high, graciously stuccoed ceiling and an Art Nouveau door, and you will certainly not complain of lack of air here. Yet the “acidic” yellow paint on the walls definitely increases the relatively cold impression. But this is really nit-picking. 

We have observed a steady coming and going of people. Owing to the café’s early opening time, you can also have breakfast here, and at noon nip in for a sandwich, a snack or soup. The prices are reasonable, and the emphasis on quality manifests itself not only in the lauded sweets. We also truly enjoyed the Czech-made apple cider and delicious white Pálava wine.

From the menu:

Espresso (Dallmayr Kaffee) Kč 39
Café au lait Kč 47
Hot chocolate Kč 45
Tea with fresh ginger and honey Kč 45
Cakes Kč 22–45
Soup Kč 32