We are lucky to live around the corner from Press Cafe 1911, which just celebrated its second anniversary. There are lots of cafes in Prague these days, but Press has some rare qualities, even rarer in combination:
- They actually know how to make coffee. Don’t laugh. Those of you who do not live in Prague may not appreciate how rare this is.
- They have excellent light meals. Soups, salads, sandwiches, and quiches are fresh and tasty.
- Friendly, long-term, loyal staff, with the owners working shifts.
- A solid group of regulars.
This adds up to a very pleasant atmosphere in which to lose oneself for some hours. Physically, the cafe is very nice, too, though arguably it could use some more soft couches and fewer wooden chairs.
Breakfast is available all day and includes the usual suspects, plus pancakes (Czech raised pancakes, livanecky, not flat crepes) and a very popular breakfast sandwich of egg, bacon, cheese, lettuce, and tomato, on a ciabatta.
The lunch menu includes three daily specials, of which one is a vegetarian entrée and another is a salad. There’s also a lunch special of small soup plus sandwich, Quiche, or small salad, for 100 kc. Of their various sandwiches, the roast beef really stands out. I have no idea where they source the roast beef from, but it’s cooked medium, sliced very thinly, extremely tender, and extraordinarily free (for Czech beef) of fat and connective tissue. The sandwich comes with garlic mayo, cucumber, tomato, and red onion and is served on a ciabatta. The roast beef is also available as a platter.
Speaking of their soup, it isn’t interesting every day, but when it’s good, it’s very good. Here is a bowl of potato and garlic soup with blue cheese croutons, presented with Press’ typical care.
Press now has a dinner menu, more or less in beta stage at this time. Most of the items used to be available all day, but caused a bottleneck in the kitchen when ordered during lunch rush. The menu has a Mexican section, ranging 125-150 crowns, including a quesadilla with either chicken or spinach and a burrito with both. The quesadillas and burritos are always properly toasted and contain fully melted cheese. The salsa is fresh and simple, just chopped tomatoes with some onion and garlic and a touch of cilantro. I’m a sucker for the chicken quesadilla, myself.
Outside the Mexican section, you can have a meal salad for 105kc. Choices are Caesar, Roast Beef, or Goat Cheese. The basis of all 3 are a mix of iceberg and Romaine, which I find balances flavor and crispness nicely. The Caesar has grilled chicken instead of a hard-boiled egg, this being Prague, but there’s identifiable anchovy in the dressing, and it comes with bacon, Parmesan, and croutons. The roast beef salad has the house’s own vinaigrette dressing and is made with the same excellent roast beef as the sandwich. The goat cheese salad includes green beans and black olives. All salads are dinner plate sized, always fresh, and quite flavorful.
Press Cafe has recently introduced 3 grilled entrees for dinner. Patrik in the kitchen is a fine grill chef and these new entrees let him strut his stuff. Entree #1 is a hamburger. I like it very much, but folks who like lots of toppings may not. I prefer my hamburgers to be relatively simple and to taste mostly of beef. This is a simple 200g patty, grilled to medium, and served on a toasted ciabatta with some rucola and grain mustard. I’m sure they’d add more stuff if you asked. The burger comes with a side of higher-end frozen frites, which will be replaced when they get a deep frier. Entree #2 is a grilled duck breast with caramelized red onion and mashed potatoes, for 165kc. This is an amazing dish and even more so for the price. As I said, Patrik knows his grill, and the duck is perfectly medium, not dried out at all. Press’ mash has garlic in it and is quite yummy. And the caramelized onions…well, they’re caramelized red onions. Can’t really go wrong there, except by stinting on them, which Press does not.
Oh, there’s also a pork chop as entree #3, and I’m told it’s very good, but it would mean not ordering the duck.
Press Cafe also does Sunday brunch, with a unique take. You order 4-7 items off a menu of small dishes. Half the items you order may be meat. If you go for the big 7, you get free pancakes for dessert. Aubergine and I usually split a 6 or 7. Highlights of the brunch menu include roasted goat cheese in foil, chicken quesadilla and roast beef from their regular menu, and the closest thing to Linconlshire sausage I’ve had in a Prague restaurant. Plump sausages containing actual sage. Amazing.
What else? There’s wifi, of course, but they’re in thrall to O2, so it’s not very reliable. Still, I’m posting this from there. There are special children’s days on occasional Saturdays, which we avoid. There’s fresh orange juice, a special coffee in their second grinder (vs Vescovi as the normal), and a surprising range of rums. Beer is Pilzner Urquell, reasonably well-kept. House wine is sometimes good but last time I had the red it was rather awful; still, they have some respectable vintages in bottles. It’s a pleasant place to while away the afternoon, working on your laptop and posting to the Internet when the connection’s working.
Last point: if you live in Prague, you may want to follow Press Cafe 1911’s Facebook page.