Located beneath the Art Noveau dome of Prague Hlavní Nádraží's former departures lounge—an historic space that had until recently fallen into serious disrepair—Café Coffee Day is giving the wing back a bit of its 19th-century glory.
The café, an Indian chain with two other locations in Prague (OC Harfa and Smíchov malls), opened its doors in late June and is part of a larger reconstruction to the wing that saw the restoration of its sculptures and stained glass ornamentation among other significant improvements.
The space was formerly known as Fanta Café for architect Josef Fanta who designed it in in 1871. The newly opened Coffee Day's interior and Barcelona-chair seating nod at another early 20th-century architect, Mies Van Der Rohe, who designed Villa Tugendhat in Brno.
The café has a small indoor seating area and an outdoor "terrace" where patrons can sip coffee beneath the historic dome while train spotting.
I recently stopped by to try the coffee and marvel at the impressive renaissance of a place I remember best for its enormous secondhand store frequented by prostitutes, junkies, and broke English teachers.
The Indian coffee probably won't thrill those ardent followers of Prague's coffee scene but is a fine alternative to the other options for caffeinating while waiting to catch a train. And at 49 CZK for an espresso, affordably priced.
An extensive cold drinks list (iced coffees and teas and flavored lemonades, from 59-69 CZK) with a few interesting twists—mango iced coffee, banana-choco frappe (89 CZK), and lassi drinks—reflect perhaps the cafe's tropical origins.
The food is very basic (wraps and panninis); truthfully this is not a dining destination though perfectly adequate if you're on your way out and need a sandwich. And the generous slices of cold cakes, there are about a dozen starting around 89 CZK, are a nice accompaniment to the coffee.
But the real reason to stop by is to marvel at the interior. A visit here is a great insider tip for out-of-towners or anyone seeking a bit of train-travel romance from another era.
Photos by Daniel Zahradníček.