Review: Café Sladkovsky
Vršovice café has got the bases covered for food, drink and atmosphere
Posted: February 13, 2013
With a time-worn atmosphere and a pretty fine burger, there's a lot of reasons to like Café Sladkovský in Vršovice.
In the gritty, hilly backstreets of the beginning of Vršovice, in the cross-section of streets between the Krymská and Římská tram stops, Café Sladkovský beckons on a cold dark evening like a port in a storm. It's the sort of place one could imagine propping up at to write a novel or sitting with friends till the wee hours, or the sort of place that has enough personality to warrant being a character itself. There's a sort of grungy, Bohemian vibe on tap there that is characteristic of Prague, and the food there - an eclectic mishmash of cuisines - is, for this type of café, uncharacteristically good.
Located on a street corner, the entrance sweeps through heavy curtains to the front room, which has the bar and several round, wooden tables. Colorful old-fashioned wallpaper, quirky paintings and a piano can be found in the back room, which until 8 p.m. is nonsmoking. Because of the street's slant, the windows here are higher but let in streams of natural light, and several couches form the seating for larger tables. With a sense of multipurpose panache, the café attracts a steady flow of students, freelancers on laptops and groups of friends, there for either a coffee or tea or a wine or beer (Sladkovský has both the excellent Únětické beer, in two varieties, on tap, as well as Ježek). But it has also become a destination for its menu, which stretches from bacon and eggs and the like for breakfast through to sandwiches, a daily special, a few curries and other items, as well as, most notably, its dozen or so types of burgers.
The burger at Café Sladkovský, or at least, the bacon burger sampled on a recent visit, was memorable for its humility; it wasn't trying to be a fancy new take on the burger concept and made the most of quality ground meat, cooked perfectly to pink on the inside, a sturdy toasted bun and minimal other accents. The beef had a nice light smoky flavor that reminded me of so many other burgers I've had throughout the ages; not necessarily the groundbreaking or "best" ones but just the old faithfuls. It wasn't studded with gristle or pork meat and had a hint of char on the edges. The bacon was a thick slice but managed not to overwhelm with saltiness, simply adding an extra smoky wave and a crisp bite. Melted Irish cheddar and sliced tomato arrived on top of the patty, while the lettuce, unfortunately, was hidden beneath and ended up soaked through with juices from the patty; a slathering of mayo also felt out of place. But overall it was a satisfying burger that held together till the end, if with just a few juices running down the hands.
A friend also tried the jalapeño burger, which came with a finely chopped salsa of the peppers that was well distributed over the patty.
Sevastopolská 17, Prague 10-Vršovice Tel. 776 772 478
Open Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-1 a.m., Sat. 5 p.m.-1 a.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Smoking permitted
Bacon burger 160 Kč
French fries 30 Kč
Moroccan chicken 119 Kč
Couscous 30 Kč
Bacon and eggs 80 Kč
Falafel menu 115 Kč
Spaghetti Puttanesca 110 Kč
Cheesecake 55 Kč
Pita bread 15 Kč
2 dl Chardonnay 40 Kč
0.5 L 10° Únětické lager 30 Kč
0.33 L Mattoni 25 Kč
Sladkovský's fries, which can be ordered on their own for 40 Kč, were soggy on my visit, although several friends assured me they can be quite crispy at other times, including earlier that day. But they were very good, and the whole plate of them quickly disappeared. The thick wedge-cut fries were reminiscent in taste of boardwalk fries and, because of their chunkiness, would have gotten along well with a bottle of malt vinegar.
From the menu's other items, a Moroccan chicken dish stood out and proved itself much above simple café fare. A thick, juicy breast of chicken with a crisp skin of herbs on top had been sliced and topped with crispy fried onions and black and green olives, with a rich jus gravy pooling around the plate. It went well with a side of fluffy couscous.
The falafel menu was a serviceable snack, with four fresh-tasting falafel balls, a mound of good hummus, some lettuce and tomato, and a bowl of tzatziki. Pita bread, while crisp and sturdy enough for scooping, had to be ordered extra, which upped the price unfairly for such a light plate.
A bowl of spaghetti Puttanesca proved a nice surprise, like a well-executed throw-together of leftovers at a friend's house. The sardines had been minced into the tomato sauce, and black olives and capers balanced out the saltiness of the fish.
Dessert was the only real disappointment; a wedge of cheesecake was grainy and dry, and could not be saved by the lemon flavor. The service seemed a bit absent-minded on both visits. On one, the waitress kept sweeping away wine glasses that still had a good sip of wine left in them, and, on the following visit, the same waitress, after acknowledging us as we walked in, left us to sit for 15 minutes before offering a menu; it was then another 10 minutes until our drinks were served and a full half-hour wait for the food - and all this at lunchtime, which made for an unintentionally long break.
Café Sladkovský is in the same tradition as such mainstays as Velryba, the former Meduza (now Kavárna Rosalie), Kabinet in Dejvice or Café Montmartre, to name but a few. It manages that sought-after combination of timeless and seemingly effortless Bohemian chic, with above-average café food that makes it pretty damn hard to leave the place once you've arrived.
Fiona Gaze can be reached at
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