Bake Shop Praha
By Sara Shaughnessy, Hamilton College
Grasp the handle and turn; it’s made of sturdy gold, worn with the touch of those seeking a place of comfort away from the crowds of the Old Towne streets. When you step inside, you are greeted by a flow of warming air and an impressive display of freshly baked goods, spread out, on varying levels, on a counter in the shape of a “U” that curves around the café. Your eyes, your heart, and your hunger cannot handle the aroma of the display, or the variety of miniature cupcakes, cookies, rugelach, croissants, macaroons, brownies, and slices of seasonal breads.
You remember that is it 1 pm and you came here for lunch. Walk to the left, around the bend, and gaze at the colorful salads of varying texture and flavor and sprinkled with herbs. Even the salad of shredded carrots, carrots, a seemingly mundane vegetable, has been transformed into a masterpiece tossed with garlic vinaigrette and reflecting the light that streams from the chandelier on the ceiling. A large oven behind the counter emotes heat that wades over towards the high tables near the grand glass windows, and you watch the oven as a warm loaf of multigrain bread emerges in a perfect oval form. Thirsty? The woman dressed in tasteful clothing and high black boots sips espresso from a white glass mug engraved with black letters that read “BAKESHOP.”
The above description does not do justice to the brilliance and simply unrivaled ambiance of one of my favorite cafes in Prague, Bakeshop. What started as an innocent trip to a café that was recommended to me by my friend Sophie who studied abroad in Italy (yes, she wasn’t even in Prague for more than a week but knew about this place) quickly became a ritual that I found necessary to fit into my weekly schedule. Perhaps the reason I find myself so emotionally attached to Bakeshop has to do with the fact that it reminds me of Café Opus, the vegetarian café at Hamilton that I frequent, which serves lunch specialties like sweet potato feta pizza, thai butternut soup, and curried veggie dahl over rice. Bakeshop provides me with a taste of Hamilton in Prague.
My favorite time to go is around 2 pm for lunch on the later side, when the rush is over and I am free to roam freely, taking my time to evaluate each unique ingredient the chefs have used to create these gourmet salads and baked goods. If you consider yourself a foodie, defined by the dictionary as “a person devoted to refined sensuous enjoyment,” please treat yourself to the happiness that will follow a long, relaxing, enjoyable stay at this café. A recommendation: the miniature carrot cake cupcake, moist and decorated with fluffy cream cheese frosting, is the perfect bite-sized way to satisfy a sweet tooth.