We've been saying it for years and we'll say it again: there's nothing like starting a day with a good breakfast. If you are like us, you will like Café Jen at the Kodanska street in the Vrsovice district just a few minutes off the tourist centre. Since its opening, Café Jen has gained quite a reputation for relaxed atmosphere, good coffee, great breakfasts all day and home-made cakes. They were even mentioned by Adam of EMA Espresso Bar as one of Prague cafes serving great coffee when we interviewed him for these series.
What makes Café Jen really special, in our eyes, are the two owners and bosses, Dominika and Hanka. Former classmates at university in Brno, Moravia, they enjoyed the Brno café scene during their studies to the fullest but were longing to open their own place one day. After Hanka returned from her travels, their dream came true not in Brno but in Prague instead. Their café is a labour of love: their tidily kept chronicle of the café shows their moms sewing the pillows and their boyfriends moving in and assembling furniture.
You can feel the love and dedication not only in the venue itself but in everything they serve. During our interview at the small bar, Dominika and Hanka exchanged roles as baristas, bakers, chefs and waiters, while talking about the places they love, and they do love them: in the days leading up to the interview, we are bumping into Dominika in various cafes so much it felt like we were stalking her (we were not, just for the record). We asked them a few questions but we could just keep talking and chatting with them the whole day. And that what makes their place special for us: the time stops for a while and you just relax... and have some breakfast.
When not in your own cafe, where can we bump into you?
D: Here in the district? Definitely the Jiriho z Podebrad farmers' market here. We like to buy things there.
H: Gastromica is a nice new opening close to the place we live. I like it there..:o). Kofein is also great for some tapas and wine or some lunch.
D: What really wowed me recently is Kastrol - great food and not rushed. We went there with my boyfriend and liked it: lots of families, big tables, just a place to get away and have an honest meal.
H: And, of course, Můj šálek kávy, Kavárna pražírna and EMA Espresso Bar - great places, too. We can´t miss our favourite tiny Mezi Zrnky café, actually you can find us pretty often there.
D: Tricafé in the centre - love that place. I like to walk through the centre and Tricafé is a nice stop for take-away coffee or just to sit down for a bit. The staff is super nice and the bench outside is a great place for a rest in the summer.
Can you describe your ideal Saturday?
D: I have thought about this, actually, and I have come up with two ideal Saturdays: one when I am at work and people are having breakfasts here at Café Jen. Then I am happy to be here because my favorite meal of the day is breakfast so I love having people over for breakfast or for our weekend breakfast specials.
So this is one plan. And when I have a Saturday off, I love going somewhere for breakfast. In the summer, we have take-away coffee from Kavovy klub at the Jiriho z Podebrad farmers' market on our way to Mezi zrnky, or go for the omelette at Cafe Slagr. That's lunch rather than breakfast.
H: My ideal Saturday? I would have breakfast here at Café Jen or at Gastronomica. Then I would go out for a walk through the Stromovka park, head over to the Svata Klara vineyards for some wine and chill-out on the sun, or have a run in the Kunraticky forest. Then perhaps go back along the river, stop for some more wine at Na brehu Rhony, and then... bed time! :-)
Would you suggest any trips outside of Prague?
H: I love to visit my home town of Opava and the Jeseniky mountains - the most beautiful Czech mountains in my mind. Everyone should go there...:o)
D: Outside of Prague? Brno (the capital of Moravia). I would visit our friends in the V melounovem cukru café, then the Industra café, have a cup of coffee at Saggio Cafe, a stroll on the Kravi hora...
H: Bistro Franz for me..The Veveri area is exciting: Rosebud, an "alternative flower shop", Preclik, a "snack shop", and Patizon, a "vegetable boutique", are all owned by Ms Rozarka Stresovska. All their shops are magical and lovely.
D: We like Pastyr with their halusky, Cattani pasta bar, Tri ocasci and so on...
H: I really miss café Avia here in Prague... and Bar, který neexistuje.
D: What is great about Brno is that everything is really close to each other so it is always worth a trip. If you where to do a tour there, you would be fine with walking everywhere.
And your secret shopping address?
H: Papelote. I love it there! And in terms of food, I really like Sklizeno.
D: I must say I like Gran Moravia, their cheeses and butter. They have a shop in Brno, too. We also buy things from the Jezkuv statek farm. Their food is good.
Alright, so where is Café Jen?
Kodanska 37, Prague
Open Mon 8-19, Tue-Fri 8-21.30, Sat 9.30-21.30, Sun 9.30-9