First Date Series: Cafe Prague
The First Date Series takes a look at restaurants in Montreal where you might want to go -- or might not want to go -- on a first date. A daytime date calls for a different type of place than a soirÃ©e, and Cafe Prague is not a bad locale to get to know someone in the afternoon.
Outremont's newly opened Cafe Prague is small and cute, and there's almost a cubist-inspired feel to the place. Photographs of Prague line the walls, cowhide print tiles cover the bathroom floor, and a cuckoo clock goes crazy every hour.
The menu is simple, as Cafe Prague specializes (almost exclusively) in traditional Czech open-face sandwiches called cheblicky - a slice of baguette, covered in some sort of spread, be it cream cheese, ham salad, or butter, topped with goodies like egg, salami, ham, tomato, cucumber or whatever else the fridge has to offer.Cafe Prague's chlebicky are made fresh, and they have a creative selection, some of which are the cafÃ©'s original concoctions. We sampled the very traditional option - pieces of ham and salami draped over buttered rye bread topped with one slice of hard-boiled egg, one sliver of cucumber, and half a cherry tomato. It was simple, but deliciously satisfying. My grandfather, an open-face sandwich expert who accompanied me on my Cafe Prague excursion, agreed. A soup and salad that change daily are also on the menu at Cafe Prague, though the excitement factor of either paled in comparison to that of the sandwiches for both of us.
In addition to the chlebicky, traditional homemade Czech sweets and pastries are a big deal here. Apple strudel, fruit tarts, honey cake, poppy seed pastries, and Christmas cookies (I suppose they taste good no matter what time of year) are all baked in the little kitchen. The sweet poppy seed roll was perfect, the pastry not too flaky filled with a lightly sweetened poppy seed purÃ©e - just like my own Babicka used to make.The espresso at Cafe Prague is top notch, and the service, like most new establishments, is super friendly. It's relaxed and unintimidating - both qualities I appreciate on a first date.
It's an ideal place to take a date for an afternoon coffee and snack. A daytime encounter offers a quick and easy escape if your date's a fail, and if things go well, you have the whole night ahead of you (though you'll have to change venues as Cafe Prague currently closes at 7pm).
Cafe Prague is located at 1317 Van Horne and is open Monday to Saturday from 6 am to 7 pm. Their website doesn't say much, but they can be reached at 514 439 3778.