Leica Gallery’s café is one of Prague’s best kept secrets. I am continuously surprised when I invite friends to meet me and I receive the response “Where is Leica café? I’ve never heard of it before.” I originally discovered it by taking a wrong turn down Školská about a year and a half ago and have returned several times since. What makes this café unique is its hybrid concept and stunning architecture. Leica is part gallery, part café, and part bookstore, which means there is no getting bored in this place. You can enjoy a drink or food, browse its rotating photo exhibits or gawk at their extensive photography book collection (which is for sale). Once you push through the massive front door, you can’t help but feel dwarfed by the café’s striking ceiling height or captivated by all the little details surrounding its window frames and ceiling.
Taking cues from gallery decorum, the café’s atmosphere is artsy, quiet and relaxing. Leica is not the place for loud conversations. Patrons are often seen immersed in a book, tapping away on a laptop, or in a quiet conversation with a friend or colleague. If you look above the main bar area, you’ll see the gallery staff busy at work in their office.
On this particular occasion, I sampled an espresso, green tea (loose leaf), a slice of plum tart and some Christmas cookies. On previous visits, I also tasted their sandwiches, salads, soups and a cheese plate. Overall, Leica’s food is decent, but nothing to write home about. However, the lack of wow-factor food is made up by the café’s atmosphere, presentation and beverages.
Playing on Leica’s photography focus (Leica is also the name of a high-end German camera brand), I like how some of the café’s menu items are creatively named after photographers such as Robert Vano (Slovak photographer) and Jaroslav Kučera (Czech photographer). The menu reads like a typical Prague café menu. It contains a large selection of alcoholic (wine, beer, liquor) and non alcoholic (tea, coffee, lemonade) beverages in addition to a handful of soups, salads, sandwiches, cakes, cookies and small snacks such as almonds, olives, chips, or a cheese plate. The brand of espresso served is Filicori Zecchini, a Bologna, Italy based coffee roasting operation that dates back to 1919. Their coffee is served on a silver tray and is accompanied by a glass of water and little chocolate. It tasted mild and was fairly balanced (not too acidic). The Christmas cookies I sampled were great. They were part of a special Christmas menu which is being offered over the holiday season. The plum crumble tart was mediocre. It was served cold as it came right out of the fridge. The tart needed to be brought to room temperature before serving or served slightly warm to maximize the taste.
If you haven’t checked out this fabulous space, you must. Leica doesn’t disappoint and you’ll get your photography and culture fix all in one shot.
Brand of Coffee: Filicori Zecchini
Serves Food: Cakes, cookies, sandwiches, salads, cheese, chips, nuts
Atmosphere: Like you’re having coffee in an art gallery
Overall: I love this place!
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00-19:00 Saturday-Sunday 14:00-20:00