A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE CZECH CUISINE:
Czech cuisine could roughly resume in two main specialities: beer and boiled beef. The excellent and refreshing Pilsner-Urquell can challenge the best German beers, and should be served i.e. with a Parky s Krenem (Sausage with Horse-Radish), or with the famous Prazka Sunka (Prague Ham). The reputation of Czech gastronomy also comes from many other pork specialities, like the Jitrnice (Black Pudding) or the Moravske Klobasy (Moravian Sausage). The variety of dishes is not that rich; but quality saves the situation.
For instance, you will find much distinction in the Hovezi Maso (Boiled Beef), national Czech speciality, which requires much care to be perfectly tender and tasty. It is served with different kind of sauces, from which we kindly advise you to choose the Krenova Omacka. Except beef and smoked pork, Czech people like poultry (Druber) very much, as far as game (Zverina) and goose (Husa). The latest should come from Libusa: very well fed, their weight can rise up to 12 kilograms (26 pounds). Hares (Zajic) are much fatter than in Western Europe, and their meat is delicious.
Vegetables are not appreciated that much; except, of course, potatoes (Brambory) which come with almost any all kind of dishes. It often alternates with dumplings (Knedliky), made of basic flour and quite heavy for western stomachs, indeed. Sometimes, Knedliky are served with sugar as a popular dessert in cheap Pivnice (pubs) and Hospoda (taverns). The appetite of Czech people is impressive: they can swallow up to 50 Knedliky in one dinner, drinking huge volume of beer ! Sometimes they add plum and curd cheese on the dumplings, certainly making it the highest calories dish in the world...
Pastry (Moucniky) received the Austrian heritage. For instance, the famous Jablkovy Zavin is nothing but an apple-struddel. They make it very well here, and a visit to a Kavarna (coffee shop) is a must when staying in Prague.
The ones in the Castle Area (Hradcany) are picturesque and friendly. They serve the delicious Livance (Sweet Blinis with Jam).
As we already mentioned, beer is a favourite in Czech Republic. Anyway, wine is not bad either. So you should try one of the best vintages, like red Melnik. Strong and heavy, it tastes like Hungarian Egri Bikaver, or world famous Spanish Sangre de Toro. Moravian wine is good quality and value. Bohemia makes excellent sparkling wines. There are also imports from Slovakia, though quality doesn't match the Czech standards. A favourite digestive is the Becherovka (with fresh herbs extracts), actually excellent for the stomac. The bitter Fernet is a direct concurrent: popular as an aperitive, is is also used as a digestive. The Merunka, an apricot brandy quite similar to the German Schnaps, strong and tasty, is a basic beverage upcountry.
Selected restaurants in Prague:
KAMPA PARK (****): A trendy restaurant for smart people, the Kampa Park settled in 1995 on a daydreamed location. On the River Vltava (Moldau) embankments, with a breathtaking view on the legendary Charles Bridge: which, in term of marketing, should be more than enough to capture tourists passing by. The young Norwegian restaurateur caring of this landmark preferred the challenge, consisting in raising the place among the top five leading gourmet spots in town.
We had actually a great lunch at Kampa Park. Due to favourable weather conditions, we sat at the riverfront terrace rather than inside the elegant modern dining room. The all restaurant has been recently totally refurbished -not to say reconstructed- and takes much pride in this Californian style room, which has been planned and designed by the owner. But the terrace is so romantic. Practicable almost all year long, thanks to its heating columns, it was quite full the day of our visit. At first sight a good mark for a restaurant.
We have not been dissappointed at all by a more than honest -not to say delicious! - cuisine, and a friendly though efficient and quick service.
Expensive compared with the Czech standards, we found the fares perfectly affordable for westerner. We tried first of all the Bouillabaisse: typical fish soup, originated from Marseilles, with mussels, clams, fennel and saffron aioli. Despite of its global concept and taste (lots of paprika powder make it sweeter that the original), we found it interesting. At CZK 365 this is worth being experienced. More than delicious was the starter we enjoyed with a glass of Moët & Chandon well chilled Champagne: a Pheasant Breast, with Roquefort and Herbs au Gratin. Served with Pears between crispy Ciabatta and Raisin Sauce. Game in Czech Republic is one of the best in the world, and this fare was appealling at CZK 295 a generous portion. Curious though wise -they have a lot of Japanese guests- Shashimi stasters and salads were also available a la carte.
We were about selecting a Grilled Seabass, served with Chanterelles, Salsify, Spinach, homemade Herbed Ravioli and Tomato, with Vodka salsa; but have been kindly advised to try the "plat du jour": a Poached Halibut, served with Sauteed Spring Vegetable and Creamy Forest Mushrooms Foam. The fish was ideally steamed, and the vegetables certainly cooked into a "Wok" (the Thai way): which preserved their natural taste and crunchy texture. This is one of the most expensive fares, at CZK 695. Of course, there is also Iranian caviar for the happy few...
Our dessert was a Cinnamon Crème Brulée, with Dried Pear Chips, Caramel Crust and Pear Coulis (CZK 245), very much "nouvelle cuisine Française": that style the starred Michelin restaurants like to propose. A classical and ad hoc way to close a fine lunch.
We appreciated it with a glass of Chilean white wine (many brands and vintages available under CZK 1,000 a bottle), we found so conviently palatable that we decided to follow up the all lunch without switching to some more expensive alternative: like French wine in the CZK 1,500-2,000 bracket, Champagne or "Special Reserve" featuring Grand Crus. There is a wide clientele for platinium priced liquid anyhow: the Kampa Park welcomes so many VIP guests cleaning up the very best of its precious ceilar. From State President Vaclav Havel (a renowned dinner!) till Hillary Clinton, Caroline de Monaco, or Madeleine Allbright, this is a politically targeted place. Movie stars like Jeremy Irons, Sylvester Stallone, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, or Arnold Schwarzenegger (another world famous gourmet) are also part of it. Which might be a second good mark.
The Kampa Park is also well known for its Champagne bar, where the local Society likes to join after dark.
A much recommended restaurant for tourists, businessmen and Prague's residents.
PARK: Na Kampe 8b, Mala Strana, 110 00 Prague 1
Honesty with the bill ; and, even more important, honesty with the food.
After crossing a trendy dining, designed like the rest of the restaurant by Nils Jebens, we sat on the terrace. At a riverside table . The panorama is amazing. We should write « made in Hollywood » : cinemascope over the bridge, and dolby surround with a jazz session entertaining the guests (which happens only when VIP groups visit the restaurant ; which means many times a week…). The « Jidelni Listek » (menu, in Czech language) is based on the one of those hundred pizzeria you can find in Prague. But here stops banality. A close capture on it demonstrates that Italy is only part of the culinary trip : the Hergetova Cihelna copes more generally with Mediterranean cuisine. Often quite imaginative. Let's start, for instance, with the Roasted Squids, with Couscous Tabuleh, Fresh Tomatoes and Brown Butter Sauce. What a well balanced meal : juicy squid, light tabuleh (nothing to do with that stuffy mixture served in Lebanon), and the acidity of the natural tomatoes sweetened by the butter. This is alchemy, indeed. We DID like that starter. Expensive ? Come on! : CZK 245 for a more than generous portion. As a main meal, if you feel quite hungry, do like us and try the Saffron Seafood Risotto, with Squid, Shellfish and Lobster Broth. Beneficently served, with salmon and fresh clams (up to the season) as a bonus. Creamy, but still light. Palatable and tasty : this would fit in term of quality the best Trattorias in Rome. At CZK 285…
But what Nils is particularly proud of are the Pizzas. Pretentiously « the very best in Prague » ? Let's try it ! From the famous « Margherita » (CZK 155) till the « Margherita di Parma » (pomodoro sauce, parmesan, aragula, Parma ham, mozzarella, basil, olive oil) at CZK 245 (the most expensive and the richest), 16 varieties of pizzas are available. We took a « Pugliese : with pomodoro sauce, onions, artichokes, mozzarella, olive oil, and an imported spicy cheese of the highest quality, liberally spread over the brown paste cooked in a traditional oven by Vincenzo: imported, like the cheese, from the best origin. Napoli, of course ! So, the boss was not that pretentious. We must admit that in a city like Prague, where 2 or 3% of the Pizzerias are good (which is an excellent percentage somehow), the Hergetova Cihelna comes number one with its exotic pizzaiolo.
We had the all lunch with two glass of Pillsner Urquell beer CZK 55 / half litre. But those who prefer wine can have it either by bottle, either by the glass (CZK 125 for 0.15 l of « Santa Cristina Antinori Toscana » sounds more than acceptable).
As a desert, if you still fee hungry after the gargantuan pizza, go straight to the Tiramisu « Cihelna » (CZK 165) or the distinguished Crème Brulée with Apple Chips, and Apple-Basil Chutney (CZK 155). Delicious with an Espresso Piccolo.
Opened daily from 11:30am untill 2:00am (while Prague falls asleep at midnight…).
worth the visit !
U MODRÉ RUZE (The Blue Rose) (*****) : Romantically located between Staromestska and the Venceslas square, settled in a lovely cellar dating back from the 15th century, the place gets all the assets to attract tourists. Plus one : the splendid quality of its cuisine makes it one of the top ten best restaurants in Prague. A discreet -almost secret- entrance door opens on stairs, driving to the stone vaulted cellar. Coats of arms and armours fixed on the walls participates to the medieval atmosphere of the naturally elegant dinning room.
The virtuoso pianist softly plays the best of Burt Bacharach on his boudoir grand Petrof, while one of the most discreet though efficient staff in town treats you with like a knight.
« A la carte », we could find a multitude of classical specialities. U Modré Ruze is « bourgeois », like those bygone days French restaurants. They have been step by step corrupted by the so called « Nouvelle Cuisine », and this is now in Prague -more precisely in a restaurant like this- that our palate can still enjoy Roast Duck, Smoked Pork or Flambéed Desserts. We have been therefore as classical as possible, starting with the Half Dozen Stuffed Escargots in Burgundy Way : sauced with red wine, provençal spices, and garlic. Served with toasts, they are –unique infringement of the receipt by Escoffier- generously gratinated with cheese. Somehow « A la Thermidor ». This was first time we had snails cooked that original way ; but we must say that we found it more than delicious. An interesting discovery, at CZK 350. We liked also very much the grilled Sweetbread of Veal “diplomat”, trimmed with goose liver and bacon, served on a toast with a rich, creamy truffle cream sauce (CZK 440). The Home made goose paté with fresh fruits is very authentic (CZK 270). Ladies will certainly prefer the "Mediterranean Salade with Grilled Tiger Prawns" (CZK 350), with pinapple & sherry tomatoes. The prawns were actually good sized, crunchy prawns; and not those tasteless, ordinary shrimps served everywhere downtown... During a previous visit, some months ago, we enjoyed with a similar delectation the Little Crayfish Tails: served mild, with a discreet saffron sauce and stewed vegetables, this is a delicacy everybody can afford at only CZK 440.
Their “maître saucier” excels in his delicate job. We found both tasty and elegant, indeed, the red caviar sauce served over the Grilled Fillet of Norwegian Salmon, with blue mussels, flavoured with lemon pepper, basil pesto, and backed with Parmesan Cheese (CZK 620).
Plenty of gourmets travellers visit the Czech Republic for its game. Wild, natural and savourous, it is available at one fourth of its price in Western Europe and the USA. This is opportunely a speciality of the chef. We therefore targeted our main meal on the products of the Bohemian forests : sharing portions of duck and mufflon. The Grilled Wild Duck Breast Larded with Bacon, served with Currants in Plum Brandy Sauce came first. The flesh was so naturally perfumed that we first believed we had been served mufflon. We would hardly find elsewhere than in Czech Republic (Poland, Hungary or Rumania) such a top quality game. The essence of the sauce, mixed with french currants and a generous measure of alcohol, was an ideal counterbalance to the virile taste of the duck. At CZK 690, this is an absolute must for the game lover, who will also like the grilled Pheasant Breast with Mushrooms Salad: in Madeira Sauce, with bacon, mushrooms salad, and exquisite custard marrows (with a taste quite similar to the artichoke), at CZK 570. Alternatively, the Grilled Duck Breast (CZK 490), marinated in honey and coriander, comes tender, medium rare, and constitutes on of the restaurants signatures. Our favourite remains the rare Grilled Filets of Fawn: not on the menu, it is proposed to the happy dinners only in Autumn. Served with a Red Fruits sauce (Red Currants or Sherries, depending on the day), this is well worth being ordered, at CZK 690 only.
If you like beef, do not hesitate, and straightly order the Tournedos with Langoustine (CZK 690). Some might say "what a strange union"! We did, at first sight. But actually we loved the combination. Our tournedos, that we had medium, was tender like butter (this is Czeck meat from a small farm located in South Bohemia), and came grilled, dressed in slim bacon. Superb quality! You can enjoy the langoustines separately, or with the sirloin. Try it, and you will see: that's simply amazingly good. It comes with a small "cassolette" countaining olive oil, garlic, chillic and aromatic herbs: light and pleasant alternative to the usual pepper sauce.
The much acclaimed Grilled Lamb Chops marinated in olive oil, flavoured rosemary, and served with young onion in caramel, are one of the chef's specialities. The portion was gargantuan, indeed: 5 large pieces! For CZK 570 only . Our lamb was tender, pinky, with a marvellous, natural taste which was not betrayed but enhanced by the ideally not so creamy nor so spicy sauce. The kind of course which makes the guests coming back (our American couple of neighbours was on his third visit within one single week!).
We ended our dinner with a Sweet Kiss : fresh strawberries with honey and green pepper, flambéed with Grand Marnier, skilfully prepared on a trolley by the table. You will like it even more when you will know that it only costs CZK 340. Same stylish preparation for the divine Pancake "Milly", flambéed with a generous (almost lethal!) dose of precious Cognac and Cointreau, stuffed with cut fresh fruits, and trimmed with whipped cream (CZK 390). Alternatively, try the Parfait Marasquin,(CZK 250): it comes with sweet sour morello cherries, and cinnamon glacé which give this delicacy a very subtle perfume.
The wine list features a wide variety of international vintages, for all tastes and all budgets : it goes from the very interesting South Moravian «Chateau Valtice, Velke Pavlovice, Premium Cabernet Sauvignon 2005» we enjoyed with our meat (CZK 190 by the 2 dl glass), till the « Margaux Premier Grand Cru 1978 » (at CZK 46,200 !). Good selection of Champagne: try by the glass their daily selection (CZK 350). The evening we visited the restaurant, their offered a Mumm Cordon Rouge, which came well chilled and perfect with the Mediterranean Salad.
Exactly the kind of restaurant we like to recommend : stylish without ostentation, bourgeois but not conceit, actually delicious, this is the place where Bacchus and Luculus would like to dine out.
Advanced booking is recommended: this institution is usually full for dinner, and it should be a pity to miss it during a visit to Prague.
cards accepted. Opens Mon-Sat 11.30-23.30 & Sun 18-23.30.
U ZLATÉ KONVICE (****): Very popular among locals for wedding receptions or graduation parties, this 14th century wine cellar is also a favourite for tourists: pouring by groups from the metro-station-like entrance, located opposite the world famous Astronomical Clock, on Prague main square (Old Town Square / Staromestké Namesti).
The first room (a lounge with mural paintings of beheaded Czech lords) is usually used as a pub. Diners tend to sit in the larger « Konšelský sál ». Under high Roman and Gothic vaulted ceilings. The stone walls, period furniture, historic weapons, coats of arms, tin articles and trophies (you will notice the splendid wild bear, right by the entrance) enhance the atmosphere... already warmed up by the live music (from Thursday until Sunday evening) and songs of groups which obviously like Prague and its reputed beers!
The place is touristy. So what about food? We have not been disappointed; on the contrary, we have experienced here a wealthy, epicurean regime. Those who, like us, like grilled meat will definitely have good time at U Zlaté Konvice. There is a large open fire chimney to cook the thick pieces of steak, poultry, or this wonderful piglet which appears to be the house most wanted speciality. The roaster is as old as sophisticated; animated by a long belt, pulling a solid attraction to a strange, ageless clock-like engine made out of dozens of gears. An attraction on its own... Should you come by a group of 10 or more, straight order a whole piglet (CZK 5700). Else, have it like us by a generous portion, served with horseradish, at CZK 550. The flesh is smooth, and the skin very crispy. Surprisingly, not fat at all. Much recommended. The « Grilled Pork Knee » for two (CZK 590) is a good value, delicious alternative that many people ordered the evening of our visit. But we preferred to try an Old Bohemian speciality: the « Roast duck with cabbage ». It looks and tastes quite a lot like that wonderful, aromatic duck, main ingredient of the French South-East well famed « Cassoulet ». Served with three types of dumpling (the typical Czech « knedlidky »: very heavy; rather order one of the fine salads). The portion was extremely generous (½ duck) and good value, at only CZK 320. Those who would like to try many meat specialities in the same plate should order without hesitation the mouth watering « Bourgeois Platter ». Normally for two persons (400 gr), it features black and white pudding, roast pork, smoked meat, sauerkraut, and a selection of dumplings (CZK 410).
Those who like fish will definitely enjoy the « Jewish Style Tench » (CZK 340), with roasted potatoes. It was very fresh. Well cooked, with its unique natural taste not covered by any spice or superfluous artefact.
We had it all with one bottle of local Moravian « Frankovka » red wine (CZK 750). Very nice quality, with a light taste of barrique, and a perfect combination with the meat and -yes, indeed!- the freshwater fish.
The desserts are fitted for already full stomachs. Not so heavy. The « Apple strudel » (CZK 120) is palatable. Though we rather ordered a Plum liqueur (CZK 100): perfect taste, and ideal for a quick digestion.
Friendly, efficient staff; despide of the impressive number of guests, they always have a smile particular attention and for everybody.
place! A must for visitors looking for atmosphere.
U ORLOJE (****): U Zlaté Konvice sister restaurant is located next door, and serves the same specialities in a very elegant room and amazing outdoor terrace: with a view on the Astronomical Clock and the Old City Square. You will see, in the unique setting of this 13th century Gothic building, a rare collection of antique wall clocks.
Besides the specialities already described in our review of U Zlaté Konvice, U Orloje proposes more international fares with a sophisticated note. Like the «Grilled Quail», with herb and egg stuffing, potatoes au gratin with mushrooms, spinach and cream (CZK 380). The «Venison Chine» in a mushroom crust, parsley sauce, cranberry compote and potato cakes (CZK 560). The «Tricolour Fish Kebab», with salmon, swordfish and giant prawns, tomato salsa, baked potato with spinach and mozzarella (CZK 610). Or excellent pastas, like the «Spaghetti with Garlic», basil, and white wine (CZK 235). Fine desserts are available: try for instance the «Hot Sour Cherries» with liqueur, sour cherry ice cream and Parisian whipped cream (CZK 190).
an extended selection of Czeck wines (mostly from the quite reputed
area) and Italian, France, Spain, Chile or Californian good
TAVERNA TOSCANA (****): This large, strategically located Italian restaurant, with a terrace on the most popular pedestrian area in the Old Town Square district, could be a perfect tourist trap if it were not owned and managed since 1995 by a trio of gourmets. Helena, Moreno and Romeo, apostles of the good taste, are the ambassadors of the Italian –and more precisely Tuscan- cuisine in the Czech Republic.
Foreign visitors, on their way to the Astrological Clock, like to sit at the terrace or in the romantic grotto-like Gothic cellar, and enjoy a pizza (among the best in town: try for instance their “Napoli”!). Residents –including Czech President Vaclav Klaus in person: a regular guest- go straight to the second part of the restaurant, called “Piano Bar”: accessible directly from street Michalská 22, this is an elegant sanctuary, animated every evening by live music, offering delicacies of the Tuscan Cuisine: including fresh fish and other seafood. When comes the fine weather, there is a summer garden in the atrium.
The “Antipasti” are authentic and palatable like in a Firenze trattoria. Affordable (in the CZK 120 – 300 range), they feature peasant specialities like the “Bruschetta al Pomodoro” ( 3 x garlic bread with fresh tomatoes), the “Crostini Toscani” ( 4 x tuscany toasts with chicken liver), and the “Bruschette al Lardo di Colonnata” (bread topped with bacon from Tuscany ). Modern and sophisticated palates will like the “Carpaccio di Copa di Rospo” (Monk fish Carpaccio) and the “Carpaccio di Tonno” (Tuna fish Carpaccio). We warmly recommend that treasure of authentic Tuscan delicatessen called “Antipastissimo Toscano”: Soprassata (one of the best brawn we have ever experienced!), Finochiona, Salame Toscano, Prosciutto Pepato Toscano, Coppa, Salame Cinghiale, Salsiccia Cinguiale. Enjoy it with some pizza bread: the most delicious in Prague.
First course (rather say “Primi Piatti”) are abundant. We have chosen their reputed “Risotto ai Funghi Porcini” (Risotto with mushrooms), at CZK 280. Not recommended to calories fighters, we found it creamy and richly flavoured. Genuine!
Great choice of “Pasta” (in the CZK 250 – 300 range). Amateurs straight order the “Bucatini all Amatriciana, con Coda di Rospo” (Bucatini with Monk fish, tomato, bacon, onion, parsley and cheep cheese).
As a second course we liked very much their “Orata incrosta di Sale” (Sea bream, baked in a thin salt crust). Wonderful texture. Perfect taste. Ideally salted. The Taverna Toscana is the unique place in Prague –maybe in the all country- where you will be served this delicacy. Which we have found affordable, indeed, at CZK 230 per 100g (you will be served about 150 – 200g).
Good selection of regional cheese: like Pecorino, Mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano… (between CZK 130 and 260).
We had two desserts. Please just do like us: most of them are not heavy at all, and the price do not exceed CZK 140. The “Panna Cotta”, for instance: so nicely presented, and so sweetly flavoured. Even better: their “Mousse di Cioccolato al Rum” is simply great. It goes well with a “Ristreto” coffee.
Rich wine list, with a fair selection of Champagne and “Spumante”. The “Morellino” 2001 (CZK 900) and the Chianti “Il Morino, Vignamaggio” 1999 (CZK 1090) go along with most of the dishes; remaining even still acceptable with the fish (good white wine available for the connoisseur).
Gina Lollobrigida, Tom Cruise, Jeremy Irons, Sean Connery, and Bruce Willis have visited this restaurant. Sometimes repeatedly. Experience it once, and you will be seduced also.
LA BODEGUITA DEL MEDIO (***): A stone's throw from the Old City Square (Staromestska), this is our favourite place for a fun though stylish evening. Since 2002, this franchise of the world famous, original « Bodeguita del Medio » in Havana, Cuba, brings to Prague nights a hard to match exoticism, and a astonishingly good cuisine we didn't ever expect in what is first of all a cocktail bar.
Guests can use the terrace, the bar area with its walls covered with pictures, photographs and guests signatures, the restaurant downstairs (we like it despite - or maybe because- of its noisy and smoky animation), or the quiet, sophisticated dining room upstairs, next to one of the city richest walking « humidor » featuring an amazing variety of « puros » imported directly from Cuba, and sold out at attractive prices.
First visit is always for the cocktails, bringing to La Bodeguita 80% of its fame. A crowd of smart clients (wealthy local peoples, and many expats), including the most beautiful women in the country, stands in a Colonial style atmosphere, by a replica of the « Sloopy Joe's Bar » in Havana, enjoying up to 150 types of long and short Caribbean drinks. The best seller remains, of course, the legendary « Mojito », with white rum, sugar, soda and fresh mint. A favourite for Ernest Hemingway: « My mojito in La Bodeguita! ». Second visit is for the live music: with Cuban (but also Argentinean, Colombian...) classics, merengue and salsa, each evening, in the bar and downstairs area. And third visit, the one which makes you come back, again and again, is for the restaurant. The cuisine improved very much this last couple of years: night clubbers mixing now with more and more gourmets. Unless you come for lunch (La Bodeguita operates all day long), booking is actually essential to enjoy the wonderful « cocina criolla » (Creole cuisine), featuring splendid « Cuban style steaks » (in fact, from Argentina) and mouth-watering seafood served in large, very large portions at definitely good value price.
Bruno and Jaroslav Zahalka,
both holders of the « Chefs des Chefs » honorary certificate
awarding those cooking for presidents and statesmen, prepare a
«Bouillabaisse a la Criolla» (CZK 210): a Creole
soup with prawns and sea mussels, served with toasts: a popular
suitable as a light main course. Another specialty we regularly order
visiting the restaurant: the « Grilled Octopus and Calamars
», with a rich black carnaroli rice risotto and rocket salad. This
is our favourite: at CZK 350 only, we have always been astonished by
quality of this dish, served in a very generous portion. We would also
warmly recommend the « Grilled Tuna Steak » (CZK
with roasted seasonal vegetables, potatoes and sweet basil
Medium cooked, the thickly sliced tuna tastes like a pure
The poultry is fine: try the « Risotto with Duck Breast and
of Truffle » (CZK 235), parmesan cheese and rocket salad.
is a home specialty. With the « Lamb Chilindrón
» (CZK 245): delicious spicy pieces of lamb in a red wine sauce,
with Cuban baked potatoes « Mojo ». Or the
«Mixed Grilled Meat Platter»: this is actually a
« Churrasco » the Argentinean style, featuring
tender Beef Filet (meat imported directly from La Pampa), pork sirloin,
pork ribs, lamb chops, chicken wings with «salsa Roja»
, tapenade from black olives, malanga, garlic bread, with Cuban baked
« Mojo ». It costs CZK 990 for two... though this
could feed up to three diners with a decent appetite! The « Ice
Lemon Cake with Forest Fruit Sauce » (CZK 150) is a good
though many guests prefer to conclude this rich gourmet experience with
a « Mojito », a « Daiquiri Frappé
» (cocktails at CZK 129) or, even better, with a « Habana
Club 15 years ». This rum goes so matured that it
tastes like a good Cognac! Great value (CZK 520), like all beverage
at La Bodeguita (Chilean wine « Concha y Toro »,
or red, at CZK 90 by the glass, classy Taittinger brut reserve at 250
the glass, etc.).
LA CASA ARGENTINA (***): Opened in January 2007, this large, comfortable and animated theme restaurant is already much visited by local and foreign patrons. An interesting alternative to La Bodeguita del Medio for gourmets, looking for great food and entertainment, La Casa Argentina is divided into different trendy rooms. The most curious features a rock embedded wall with a little waterfall: it is home of a family of iguanas... This is a non smoking room, reflecting a tropical life you will find nowhere else in Prague. Also quite amazing, is the large aquarium featuring wild piranhas: due to the high quality of the meat in the restaurant, they must be the best feed on the whole planet!
Theme restaurant often means mediocre cuisine: that's the reason why our pages don't review that much this category. La Casa Argentina comes like an exception, with a great -though not sophisticated- selection of dishes. This is not the place for complicated receipt, but for fresh, natural, quick and well prepared specialties.
Though not that much Argentinean, we ordered the « Plato Tapas » featuring the best Spanish ham (Serano; the best label with the Jabugo), sausage, chorizo and Montbriac cheese. It came with olives and delicious sun dried tomatoes. At CZK 255 / EUR 10.2 we found it a good appetizer. Ideal in the evening, where you can have it with a glass of Sandeman Sherry Seco CZK 85 / EUR 3.4. The « Risotto with Gorgonzola Cheese » (CZK 280 / EUR 11.2), is also fine. It is served with two very tender slides of Argentinean Tenderloin pouched in red wine. Which results in a very balanced, most pleasant taste and texture. This is one of our favourites on the extended menu.
The « Rib Eye Steak » (« Ojo de Bife ») is a best seller at La Casa Argentina. It came on our table directly from the charcoal grill, with paprikas and eggplants, on a small warmer to keep it permanently at the right temperature. It displays all the qualities of the best Pampa beef: smooth like butter, juicy, with that special aroma one just find in South American steaks. Remarkable, and well worth on its own the visit to the restaurant, at only CZK 445 / EUR 17.8. Alternatively, experience the pork: our « Pork Neck with Garlic Butter » was palatable. We will come back on a Saturday evening, when the chef cooks his legendary « Lechon Asado »: suckling pork on the roaster, served with « Salsa Chimichuri » and fresh vegetables.
The attractive wine list features a large selection of South American and European good bottles, for all budget. We ordered the cheapest one, just to check how the bottom line quality tasted like. Our Chilean « Merlot-Malbec » by the glass (CZK 129 / 5.2 EUR) matched fairly well the quality of our beef and pork. This is the right choice at lunch time; maybe for dinner could you order a classy « Gran Reserva Arnaldo B. , Bodegas Etchart – Cafayate Valley, 2000 ». At 1180 CZK / 47.2 EUR, this is great value for money for quite a unique wine coming from the end of the world (Patagonia).
Note that the menu features attractive seafood, that we didn't experienced yet. The « Giant Shrimps with Black Risotto & Lobster Cream» are among the most expensive dishes on the menu, at CZK 1150 / EUR 46 for two pieces. But this is a delicacy that gourmet must experience. The « Monkfish with Pepper Sauce Parsley Pesto and Garlic Confit » is a guests' favourite, at only CZK 497 / EUR 19.9.
As a dessert, we recommend the classic and classy « Crème Brulée with Fruit & Duet Chocolate » (CZK 190 / EUR 7.6), perfect with an Espresso Lavazza (CZK 59 / EUR 2.4). To finish your dinner, there is a remarkable selection of rums and Cognac that we advise you to order directly at the nicely designed bar, featuring the best barmen in Prague. Fine selction of cigars, imported directly from Cuba by Habanos; "aficionados" will find the rarest cigars brands at "La Casa del Habano" -same management like La Casa Argentina- located next door.
in the evening (Tango, salsa, piano bar), and friendly service.
LA GARE (****): Náměstí
Republiky square is a picturesque, Art Nouveau square that warrants a
visit, ending with a meal in this classic and classy brasserie. Freshly
arrived from Paris the week of our visit, we felt like so much in a
French atmosphere that we wondered
whether we actually left our
motherland or not.
TRITON (****): Certainly the most curious restaurant in Prague. Settled in a basement designed in 1912 into the style of a spooky stalactite cave depicting Pluto’s Underworld kingdom, this is also one of the most stylish places we have visited downtown.
Chef Michal Novak’s new Winter menu, balancing between audacious innovations and respect of the culinary traditions, fits very well the both original and bourgeois concept of his restaurant. Don’t skip the appetizers, which reflect very much his philosophy. He makes his Foie Gras the very French way; much different from those thick, tasteless, overcooked livers that we used to find in our plate in Budapest and Prague. Novak’s “Foie Gras with Nut Crust on Iceberg Salad and Fruit Sauce” (CZK 320) is a delicacy. The mixture of goose liver with duck liver is an alliance of elegance and character. It is actually aristocratic with a glass of “Tokay Aszu Royal 5 Puttunyos”: this rare, very sweet Hungarian wine (“The king of the wine, and the wine of the kings”) made out of dried grapes indeed costs a fortune in Western Europe; at CZK 180 per glass in Triton, this is like a present! Our tip: drink half of it, and keep the rest to enjoy your desert! Alternatively presented on the regularly updated menu, the “Variation of Duck Breast Appetizers” is a gourmand variation of what can be done with the best part of this excellent palmiped: the carpaccio, tartar and terrine were almost as great as our Foie Gras, and we recommend this fare. If by chance it is available the day of your visit. Those who prefer fish should try the “Marinated Saint Jacob’s scallops”: dipping the thin sliced scallops one by one in the small cup of chilled Gazpacho which comes along, before submitting them to the palate, would simply drive any gourmet to Paradise. Hell is that this splendid appetizer, like the Duck Breast, is not permanently proposed on the menu. Just ask Mr. Liska, the anticipating restaurant manager… With the complicity of the chef, he can make miracles.
We had our scallops with a well chilled “Côtes de Gascogne, Caprice de Colombelle”. Vintage 2001, it was still young, bright and amazingly refreshing. At CZK 160 by the glass, that was the best choice: it went along ideally with fish, and invited us to follow up that sumptuous dinner with seafood as a main course. We found the “Grilled Fish Trio” (tuna, salmon, tiger prawns) definitely recommendable. The tuna time of cooking was certainly supervised by a Swiss watchmaker, as it came in our plate with the greatest texture and flavour we would ever have dreamed of. The steamed salmon was tasty, and the tiger prawns crunchy. Very fresh. This speciality brought us straight to the Mediterranean Sea shores: like in Marseille, it has been flavoured with Pastis (this aniseed alcohol goes so well with seafood!), and was served with courgettes and olives “tapenade”. At CZK 590 it should be a pity to deprive oneself of such a wonderful fare.
Meat lovers can try the much affordable and rich “Czech Degustation Menu” (CZK 780), featuring Marinated Pork, Poultry Broth, Beef Sirloin and Roasted Duck (plus a desert!). Pantagruelian! Ideal for tourists willing to discover the authentic Bohemian cuisine. We rather had the lighter –and certainly more sophisticated- “Crown of Lamb”: smooth loin chops, divinely perfumed with a star of badiane, served with a potato purée and slightly caramelized cherry tomatoes. We had our meat with a “Carmenere, Misiones de Rengo, 2002”: an amazing Chilean red wine we will never forget. Full bodied, harmonious and fragrant, this is a rich wine for a modest price (CZK 750/bottle)
Light like a cloud, refined and extremely original, we would like to recommend to the aesthete a vegetarian speciality we tried here for first time in our gourmet life: the “Smoked Vegetables”. Chef Novak uses a specially designed wood heater to smoke his fresh vegetables (mushrooms, courgettes… depending on the season) : the result is impressive. The smell and the taste are simply unique. Well worth being experienced, this only costs CZK 260. Served with Parma ham and olive oil, or –in our case- with an unctuous mushrooms risotto and diced balsamic vinegar jelly. We simply loved it!
Deserts are as inventive as the rest of the menu. The “Almond Mille Feuilles” (CZK 160), filled with pear cream and chestnuts marinated in nougat is wonderful We can also advise you to try the light and subtle “Mandarin Parfait” (CZK 150), on strawberry and mint jelly, with caramel blanket.
During our dinner, we could see a lot of guests ordering "flambées" (meat like Chateaubriand, and deserts like Crèpes Suzettes): which we will certainly experience next time we shall visit Triton again. They were prepared at the table with much skill and style.
and classy restaurant, animated in the evening by soft live piano
can host only 30 privileged guests. Advance booking is therefore
SILENZIO (****): Located in a charming boutique hotel, right in the heart of the historic Prague, at the beginning of the famous Royal Road leading from the Old Town to the Prague Castle, a stone's throw from the Municipal House, this old style wine cellar is ideally fitted for enjoying specialties of the Bohemian cuisine.
We had our dinner served amid arched ceilings, in a rustic though comfortable, large room, hosted in the foundations of this 14th Century building, where generations of guests entertained themselves throughout the ages. The menu is available in many languages: tailored made for the international hotel guests, who often prefer to sit here rather that eating out. Maybe because of the good value rates? Surely thanks to the excellent quality of the chef specialties and extended wine list.
Our starter was a «Cream of Asparagus», delicious with its toasts (CZK 90), just to wait for the short preparation of our «Noisettes of Venison». The chef excels in game and meat specialties: stag, beef, veal and lamb. But we must admit that venison comes atop everything. It reflects the high quality of the Bohemian wild game, and the mastering of the cooking time: the flesh came tender, juicy and palatable in our plate. Without any invasion of aggressive spices, but with a light blackberry sauce. The portion was actually generous, at a mere CZK 570. We therefore warmly recommend this dish. More international, though excellent, we also tasted the «Fillet of Lamb, Richmond Style», with leaf spinach. Same price, and same high quality. Those liking beef should straight order the «Carpaccio» (CZK 210): a finely sliced Argentinean meat, with fresh Parmesan and olives. This is a starter; but those with a light appetite could have it as a main dish. Gourmets will prefer the thick «Steak of Beef», served with a Canterelles Cream Sauce. A best seller, at CZK 520.
The restaurant sommelier likes Moravian wines. We must admit that the choice is large -if not huge- with a selection of hard to find bottles, issued from small vineyards. Among the best in Czech Republic. Foreign gourmets -mostly British and American- always like to enjoy those local brands. This is somehow a good choice. French people, like us, will find some good Bordeaux or Bourgogne. We had a «Château Gigognan, Clos du Roi, 2001»: at CZK 1050 per bottle, this «Châteauneuf du Pape» was a pure marvel. Its mixture of subtle, complex aromas (mature blackberry, kirsch, with some notes of leather and truffle...) matched the whole dinner. No need to spend more to enjoy a palatable experience.
Cotta» (CZK 160), or the thick -quite heavy- local pancake
blueberries, topped with cream («Livance») are
as a desert. Don't hesitate to order some coffee: their Tonino
expresso is worth the visit. Finish your dinner enjoying the
savour of the unique, late harvest "Rulandské sedé – slámové
2002": served well chilled, this multi-awarded straw wine is
romantic restaurant fitting any budget.
We didn't taste the highly reputed Norwegian Smoked Salmon "Czar Nikolas", served with warm blinis as an appetizer. To this imperial speciality we preferred, modestly, to enjoy the typical and proletarian Czech Soup with Potatoes and Dried Cepes. This was perfect: well perfumed by the mushrooms, and sweetened by carrots and parsley. We were just drinking out the last drop of our iced "Becherovka" -the "42 herbs made beverage"- when we were served with elegance a Duck with Red and White Cabbage. The roasted magrets were pleasantly crispy outside, while deliciously smooth inside. Tasty, and not fat at all. Some "Knedliky" (sort of Czech dumplings) accompanied the duck. This came well with a "Vino Lahvove Zrale - Ruland Ske Cervene 1992": a good, though little bit too young vintage for this Moravian red wine. In Czech Republic do like the Czechs do: we didn't taste the French wines, despite of a distinctive choice of sophisticated "Chateaux" with a millesime.
We finished this pleasant dinner at the Club Restaurant with some Pancakes (blinis, in fact), topped with whortleberry and whipped cream. Always in action, wheeling about this and that, hiding his strict professionalism and permanent attention behind his entertaining and polyglot Czech humour, the restaurant manager -M.Hudek- insisted then to offer us a cup of Blue Mountain from Jamaica, imported from Rombouts' in Brussels. This nectar of coffee, coming from his personal stock, is reserved for the special attention of President Vaclav Havel, who likes to ask for it after each dinner. Do the same to really feel like VIPs ! Just forget price -who cares for this detail here ?- and don't leave the restaurant without listening little bit longer to the Polish guitarist playing... flamenco with maestria. There is also an excellent pianist, coming from the neighbouring Opera House. This is a great restaurant, and a unique atmosphere in Prague.
COWBOYS (****): Modish, like all the restaurants operated by the Kampa Group, this exclusive designer steak house is a newcomer on the Prague gourmet scene. It is strategically located at the top end of the picturesque, historic Nerudova Street: in a large, quite labyrinthic 17th century cellar. We immediately felt at ease in this convivial environment composed by large mirrors on brickwork-vaulted walls. We sat on deep cowhide banquettes, disposed in front of a large table. Space is not scarce at Cowboys, and allows intimacy even when groups of merry partygoers drop in.
We started with “Grilled Prawns with Herbs, Chilli and Garlic”: half way between the Thai and Mediterranean influence, our seafood came pleasantly textured and seasoned. This is a best seller at CZK 345. Alternatively, we also would like to recommend the interesting "Sizzling Crab Cakes with Portobello Mushrooms & Herb Butter": we looked twice the amazingly attractive price (CZK 165) of this delicacy made out of the best origin French "Tourteau" meat, mixed with polenta, then smoothly cooked with mushrooms. Simply great with Champagne: try the Bollinger “Cuvée Spéciale”, at CZK 385 by the glass.
Main dish should of course be a steak that you can have L, XL, or XXL. We ordered a medium, L "Filet Mignon". Wise choice: the generous portion of beef tenderloin which came in our plate would have been baptised XL in another restaurant... Most affordable at CZK 315. Maybe because this was local (Czech) meat? We found it top quality: tender and palatable. Some pieces of beef served at Cowboys are imported from the USA, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. But does it make a real difference? There is no noticeable gap, both in terms of quality and price. The imported "Rib Eye Steak", with a particular, strong flavour, which makes meat lovers come back, comes in the same price range (CZK 325, for L portion). This is a favourite of Nils, the gourmet owner of the restaurant; we liked it very much also, garnished with some "Sautéed Button Mushrooms", and enjoyed with a bottle of "Côtes-du-Rhône, Guigal, 2003". The rich flagrance of this full-bodied popular French brand suited very well the steak and its spicy wine sauce. At CZK 900, Nils considers it the best-valued bottle of its rich wine cellar.
Among the attractive desserts (all at CZK 165), we selected a classic: the "Chocolate Fondant, with Forest Berries & Raspberry Sorbet". A pure marvel! Another "made in USA" must is the "Cheesecake with Chocolate and Strawberries": even if the chocolate chips enriching the cake might look like a sacrilege to the amateur, we found this improvement adequately palatable.
Cigars aficionados will find a decent selection of "puros". Have it with a "Hennesy Fine de Cognac" (CZK 295) for instance.
Note that, as a bonus, the restaurant features a lovely baroque summer garden, with a breathtaking view of Prague, the River Moldau and the Royal Castle.
We found Cowboys attractive, funky (nice DJ music piping in), comfortable, and much over average in term of cuisine, indeed.
Open daily 12 - 02am (Saturday & Friday till 3pm).
RICKSHAW (****): Located in the Corinthia Towers hotel, this is one of the most stimulating restaurant we visited in Prague. The menu shows selected specialities from the Far East: with an accent over South East Asia. The culinary traditions of India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand catch the visitor into an exciting gourmet trip: a spicy and low calorie experience in a city mostly dedicated to dumplings and pork.
The Rickshaw is a smart, trendy and intimate place. Many “dressed-to-kill” Asian people were sitting at the tables the evening of our visit: which gave the dinning room an even more exotic touch, showing also that the food might be somehow authentic.
We decided to try some Thai courses: being quite familiar with the specialities from this country, which we rank among the top five in the world in term of gastronomy. Like in Bangkok, the menu shows the amount of spices added to some courses (like Phad Khi Mao or Lab Mu): from two little chillies printed after the name and geographic location of the course, one might be familiar to hot food before swallowing a first spoonful. When the waitress, wearing an elegant grey uniform, brought our meal over the table (all courses altogether, like in Asia), we could see just from its appearance and unmatchable great fragrance that the cuisine was faithfully respecting the rules. We started with our soup. The menu showed a Tom Yam Po Taek (spicy, sour soup with seafood, galanta roots, lemon grass, kafir lime leaves and coriander); we asked the cooks (one Thai and one Lao) if it was possible to create for us an alternative, called Tom Kha Kai (same ingredients; but water is replaced by fresh coconut milk, and shrimps by chicken). This was done with a smile, and very proficiently: we had exactly the same Tom Kha Kai like in Bangkok! The portion was generous (just for all meals), for CZK 190. Our Kaeng Phed Ped Yang (grilled aromatic duck with red curry, bamboo shoots, baby tomatoes, sweet basil, kafir lime leaves and coconut milk) was not less palatable and faithful to the southern Siamese recipes. At CZK 460, such a great speciality is a cheap alternative to the gourmet fares our French chefs are selling at platinum price. We hardly could find room for one more course. Anyway, we did our best to check how was the Meehoon Singapore: stir fried glass noodles with chicken, pork, shrimps, black mushrooms, vegetables and curry powder. All ingredients are freshly imported from South East Asia, via Vienna. At CZK 370, this was another rare delicacy! We had similar one in Singapore, and could see that the authenticity of the recipes obviously applies to all countries represented in this gourmet embassy.
Fine selection of wines; but rather beer, fitting far better the taste of chilly.
Note that the Rickshaw opens for dinner only (6pm - 11pm). Advanced booking and casual elegant dress recommended.
VILLA VOYTA (****): One of the Top 20 best restaurants in the Czech Republic according to the local “Gurmet” restaurants guide, the restaurant at hotel Villa Voyta is unanimously praised by tourists and residents alike. Once a modest inn, the villa undertook a complete refurbishment: turning it into one of the most elegant, though much informal, restaurant in Prague. There is an inviting summer beer garden which makes you feel like miles away from the urban atmosphere of the busy Prague, a romantic winter garden, and the authentic Art-Nouveau dinning room where we had an unforgettable lunch.
Chef Dalibor Navratil composed a menu mainly focusing on modern, lighter versions of French classics.
As a cold appetizer, we liked very much the “Millefeuille of Poached Greenland Shrimps”, prepared on virgin olive oil. Light like a cloud. Interesting crispy/smooth ideally balanced texture. A must, at only CZK 290.
More classic, our “French duck livers foie gras” was soft, divinely flavoured like duck liver –that we always preferred to goose liver- should be. It came in a colourful, audaciously shaped plate, with some raspberries. At CZK 580, it is served with a glass of Sauternes. The traditional way; though it would develop even more aroma if married with a full bodied French red wine. You’ll find plenty of them in the excellent wine list: featuring interesting brands from the Old and New World, for all budgets.
As a main course, try the “Grilled fillet of John Dory”, with fresh green asparagus and artichokes (840 CZK). One of the best fish we had in Prague. Tickling the palate! Poultry is also one of the chef’s specialities. His “Pigeon legs”, stuffed with homemade bacon with bun dumplings, could have been prepared by a three star Michelin chef. We ignore the origin of the pigeon; but its flesh was like crunchy, aromatic, and actually mouth watering. The dumplings are a reference to the Czech cuisine: some will find them too heavy, despite of their miniaturized volume. We personally found them delicious, and refined compared to the authentic, tasteless and stuffing, Czech “knedlidky”. This pigeon is simply a present, at only CZK 495. Don’t miss it! It comes with its glass of red wine; though we had it with the same local white wine we selected for the fish. A “Rulandské Sedé” 2003, Kabinet (CZK 460). Quite short in the mouth, though refreshing and pleasant with both fish and poultry.
Desserts won’t disappoint the gourmet. The so French “Dried plums marinated in Armagnac vinaigrette”, with caramel sauce, lemon sorbet and fresh pistachios, would impress the best confectioners. This is a rich course. Quite “bourgeois”. The lighter “Strawberry cappuccino”, with sauer cream and vanilla mousse, is also wonderful. Each of those desserts costs only CZK 180.
Discreet, quick and efficient service by ladies staff.
The restaurant Villa Voyta is well known in Prague for its grill parties and wedding banquets.
CASA DEL HABANO (*****): The most exclusive
cigar club in
the Czech Republic: luxuriously appointed with large leather sofas,
silk cushions, persian rugs, where clients can seat, smoke and drink
liquors in a soft, classy Tropical atmosphere. An
impressive selection of cigars and top luxurious smoker gifts
in this centrally located lounge and shop: a short walk from the Old
next to "La
here the most prestigious, often rarest brands from Cuba, imported by Habanos-Tabakinvest
exclusive trader for certified original Cuban tobacco. Cohiba,
El Rey del Mundo, Partagas and other « puros » with peerage
are available in all sizes, different maturation and amazing prices
the most affordable in Europe: quite comparable to Madrid or Geneva
value offers). The very nice, proficient Czech-Cuban staff of this
-with 88 outlets in 50 countries- let the client peep into the large
cigars cave to make one's choice. Conveniently luxurious
lavish cigars cases and lighters, are offered to please the most
client, among plentiful of gadgets. Vintage "Habana Club" Rum
be bought from the shop: it is ideal with a heady « Montecristo N°2
» or « Partagas Lusitania » for instance. Habanos
provides the vast majority of Prague deluxe restaurants, not to mention
statesmen, leading businessmen, and local or foreign actors and film
visiting the city. This is also where we buy our cigars when in the
Republic; so be confident in our experienced tip.