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In a state of hibernation. My backlog has long become unsustainable. Will probably tweet more and write less full-length stuff.

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Entries in Czech (5)

Thursday
Apr202006

Cerny Kohout

Sorry again for the hiatus. It's hard to believe it, but I am graduating in 3 weeks. It kinda sucks that everyone will be separated for good, but I do look forward to living in San Francisco again.

 

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It turns out the what I think was probably the best meal of our trip landed on our last night in Prague. It was at a restaurant named Cerny Kohout, which had a reputation for good cooking with modern Czech touches. The place was empty when we went - we actually had the entire place to ourselves for the whole night. I can't fathom why, as the food was delicious, the downstairs dining room was comfortable and elegant, and the staff was super friendly. I had arranged a tasting menu via email because it was gonna be our big last night in Prague, and it turned out to be an absolute steal. We got all of the following for 1200 crowns, which is about $50 a head.

zander fillet on garlic remoulade According to Google, zander is a pike-perch hybrid. I've never seen the fish before, and it turned out to be a pretty normal-tasting white fish, with a pretty mild flavor and slightly flaky texture. It was served chilled, and was a nice light opener.

"Goat chin" - cabbage soup with smoked pork, potatoes and cream I wish I'd asked more details about what the name of this dish means. This was, I think one of the superstar dishes of the entire trip. They seem to do a great job with soups in general around the region, and this soup was a perfect example. It had a very intense, hearty flavor from the pork and cabbage. The cream was thankfully very light-handed, and the potatoes added just the right bit of texture. Definitely one of the best soups I've ever had.

deer pate in butter crust, forest fruit sauce This dish was another highlight of the trip, and maybe even better than the soup. The pate wasn't as gamey as I'd expected, and tasted quite like a French country pate. Surrounding it with that beautiful, flaky crust may have been the best idea ever... I'm salivating just looking at it.

roasted duck breast seasoned with ginger and wild caraway, served with a red cabbage, onion and cranberry marmalade, garnished with potato medallions and caramelized apples This was a very nicely done duck breast, and easily bested Kampa Park's. It had an interesting mix of flavors going on with the sweetness and the ginger. The meat itself was perfect - juicy, tender, and flavorful.

veal fillet with "Old Prague" stuffing and rosemary souffle This veal was good, but not as good as the rest. It may have been because I was getting pretty damn full at this point. The Prague stuffing was an egg-based filling with some ham, sort of like a quiche I guess. The rosemary souffle was a tasty cross between a pancake and a frittata, if that makes any sense. The meat got slightly dry at the end.

Grandmother's blueberry cake with vanilla foam, and plum dumpling with curd cheese served with rum-spiked dark plum sauce I was pretty stuffed, but with a couple of courses still coming I had to soldier on. This was quite an interesting dessert - I loved the blueberry cake, which had a warm, gooey blueberry top with a delicious crust. The plum dumpling was too heavy for me though. I didn't like it much either; it was kind of like one of those Chinese-style sweet soup dumplings. Chewy, doughy, and not really my thing for a hot dessert. I'd rather have munched down that cake with some good vanilla ice cream... :)

Hermelin cheese baked in pear, served with nuts, cranberries, and grapes pan-roasted in Sauvignon The cheese came last, a little different than in France, but it was a cheese-fruit preparation so maybe that's why. I was really quite stuffed at this point, but still managed to gobble up the cheese pear thing. The mild cheese was actually melted onto the pear, and the couple made a great combo.

I would wholeheartedly recommend Cerny Kohout to anyone visiting Prague. We had 7 courses (8 if you count the not-pictured, fairly substantial salad that came with the mains) for $50, and the food was just delicious. I still can't believe we were the only customers of the night, but hey, the service was completely focused on us. They were professional and attentive, without giving that feeling of being constantly watched which I sometimes get when a restaurant is empty. Great food, great value.

Saturday
Apr082006

Kampa Park

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Our next major dinner in Prague was at Kampa Park, one of the city's most reknowned restaurants. I'd read beforehand that though Kampa Park is a bit of a tourist destination, it so for a good reason and is a must-visit. I was thus expecting good but not mind-blowing food, and a setting to remember.

Upon our arrival, I understood why people say Kampa Park is a "Prague experience." The host asked us if we wanted a table in the main dining room or down in the dining area by the water. It was pretty cold, but after being assured it was warm down there we chose the water. We're glad we did - the dining area is literally on the bank of the river, with a view of the entire city right behind you. The Charles Bridge is right there. It was an amazing place to have a meal, and I can say with some confidence that it must be easily one of the romantic dinner settings in the world. We're glad we didn't pick the main dining room. As for the food... it was, as expected, good. Not amazing. But everything was certainly very decent. The service was excellent all-around.

carpaccio with arugula, basil oil, lemon and aged parmigiano reggiano - Kč 395 Carpaccio is apparently a pretty popular dish in Prague's dining scene, and supposedly Kampa Park makes the best version. They went squarely with the lemon/oil/arugula/parmesan direction rather than the original Harry's Bar aioli thing. This had a particularly heavy dose of arugula and parmesan, which I actually quite like (I'd be happy to eat a simple salad revolving around the two). The beef had the right thickness and temperature. Another drizzle of the basil oil might have been nice.

langoustine and porcini ravioli with Vichysoisse puree and walnut glaze - Kč 495 In awe of the setting, I got a little ambitious and decided to go three courses. This was my second app, and based on the description I expected a pasta. What I got was very different. I don't even know how to describe this dish. First of all, the two pieces are actually different - one was langoustine and the other was porcini. They were sort of like huge dumplings, but I'm not really sure what the outer skin was made of. It didn't seem like regular pasta or dough. Whatever it was, each of these were stuffed with ample amounts of langoustine meat and porcini respectively, and were really very tasty.

breast of duck with baked eggplant, parmesan/potato puree, duck rillettes and red wine sauce - Kč 745 This duck was alright, but a little bit lackluster, and the weakest of my three courses. The meat was somehow just a bit tough. The duck rillette pastry thing had a Greek feel to it and was delicious. The eggplant was good, especially considering I'm not the biggest eggplant fan. Overall, not bad but not that good.

chocolate fondant with roasted peach and verbena ice cream - Kč 295 As usual, we got a couple of desserts to split. The fondant in this was delicious - hot, chocolatey, and oozing. The ice cream was surprisingly light and a great foil to the cake. The peaches were a bit too sour for my taste.

strawberry cappucino with vanilla ice cream, meringue and forest berries - Kč 295 We weren't sure what to make of this when we saw it on the menu so we gave it a shot. It turned out to be a multi-layered puree type of thing. With each bite, it tasted better and better, and once we got the different elements mixed together it became delicious. It was like eating concentrated strawberry ice cream...

So in the end, my conclusion is the same as everyone else's. Kampa Park's food isn't world-class, but the place is a must-visit if you go to Prague. (Caveat: Keith claims his eggplant soup was the best soup he's ever had.) The setting is just breathtaking, with prices to match. Make sure you sit down by the water. And finally, any guys out there who are looking to propose... do it here and there is NO WAY she will say no.

Monday
Apr032006

Pravda

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During one of our sightseeing days, we decided to eat lunch at Pravda, a hip-looking restaurant near the Jewish Quarter. It turns out Pravda is on the "nice shopping street" - that is, the street with the fancy stores, like the Hermes across the street. During the day, the room is bright, modern and comfortable. The place boasts an international menu, with different countries each represented by individual items. The place flirts with the dangers of being a bit trendy, but I think it ended up being a pretty good place to grab lunch.

borsch - vegetable soup with beef, beet-root, cabbage, and a dollop of sour cream - Kč 225 This soup had a more tangy flavor to it than most versions I've tried - a bit too sour for me. I did enjoy the plentiful diced beets. It was sort of refreshing in a weird way. I kinda wish I got the mushroom cream soup that Mike got though - that was fabulous.

Czech Stroganov - slices of tenderloin with tomatoes and cream served with jasmine rice - Kč 425 When I saw this on the menu, I immediately had flashbacks of the excellent Stroganoff made by Auntie Margie, which is one of my first true food loves. This version wasn't quite as good, but I guess I wasn't expecting it to be. The sauce had a great flavor to it nonetheless, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't know if a Czech-style Stroganoff is supposed to be distinct from a typical one, but at Pravda they replaced mushrooms with olives. Not bad, but I like mushrooms better. Again, not a very cheap meal considering it's lunch... I will say that the location is great, and offers some interesting people-watching out the window. The menu is very diverse, and the food was generally pretty good. I'd go back.
Tuesday
Mar282006

V Zatisi

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It's been a quiet March at AH, and for that I apologize. People are starting to complain now so I promise I'll get my ass in gear. Our first proper meal in Prague was at V Zatisi. I found it recommended on Chowhound for consistently good fare, and the place has actually won a few Best Central European restaurant awards. The place is a short walk from Old Town Square, and is pretty easy to spot thanks to a very nicely-lit sign. The inside is very serene, comfortable and professional, and there appeared to be a number of tourists around. I saw one table speaking English and another speaking French. The food is supposed to be a mix of International (which I guess means French and continental European) with some Bohemian touches.

amuse of pastry and brie It's always pleasant to get an amuse bouche when you're ordering a la carte, and this was a bit of a surprise. I'm blanking on this dish, but the pastry was stuffed with something very unusual. I want to say monkfish, but the combo of monkfish and brie just sounds so weird that I'm doubting myself. It tasted good, but fairly normal considering the description the waiter gave us.

trio of pan-seared seafood - diver scallop, jumbo shrimp, and fillet of red mullet, garden greens and haricots verts tossed with sherry vinaigrette and lobster oil - Kč 495 At first I didn't know if I should order seafood at all in a country that is completely removed from the ocean (a fact that seems to be reflected in a lot of the seafood options), but I figured whatever. This dish turned out quite good - the shrimp and the scallop in particular had a nice sear to them, though the mullet was slightly overcooked. The pile of haricots verts underneath was delicious.

tender bites of herb roasted quails served on arborio risotto with porcini mushrooms and truffle oil - Kč 595 This dish was great, though it got a little heavy towards the end. The quail was very tender and nicely-spiced, and also had a nice char flavor to it. The risotto well-cooked and quite fragrant of porcini.

chocolate mousse with fresh fruits and homemade vanilla sauce - Kč 295 This dessert was phenomenal. The chocolate was silky smooth and not too sweet. We were sharing dessert but I kinda wish I got this on my own...

freebie tiramisu cups So after getting an amuse before the meal, they also gave us a freebie dessert. These little tiramisu cups were I think a smaller version of a tiramisu on the menu. And it was more of a tiramisu cream than an actualy tiramisu, but very light and tasty. This ended up being one of the more expensive meals of the trip - it cost easily what you might spend at a US restaurant - but the service was excellent and the food very solid. V Zatisi is definitely a safe spot to go if you're looking for a nice meal in Prague.
Tuesday
Mar212006

Hybernia Needle House

Okay, due to some popular demand, I've decided to put my Sydney reports on hold for a moment and talk about my recent spring break trip to Prague and Budapest. I'm back in Boston now, and after a week of relaxing and good eats, I'm back to the grind of school as I approach graduation. I'll get back to the loads of Sydney stuff (as well as some residual SF and Vancouver stuff) eventually...

 

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We had our first meal in Prague at a restaurant called Hybernia (aka the Needle House), just across the street from our hotel. I'd planned on most of our dinners for the trip, but I decided to just play the lunches by ear for the most part. I read some decent comments about Hybernia on the TripAdvisor page about our hotel. After a decent bit of flying, we were eager to just get some food in our stomachs. The restaurant has an upstairs section, and also a cavernous part going down into the basement. This actually seems to be the case with a lot of the buildings in Prague - they go really really deep. The decor was nice enough, but I have to mention our waiter had some vicious BO. It was a rude awakening that we weren't in America anymore...

steak tartare, Czech style - Kč 172 I decided to try this steak tartare served Czech style. It isn't much to look at here... in fact, I'd say it's downright unappetizing. The way they served it was to have everything completely separate, and let you mix in what you want yourself.

tartare fixins This plate of fixins (along with a few sauces and dressings) came on the side. Mustard, onions, country spice, chili, capers, Worschestire, even soy sauce - there was a ton of stuff to put in. I pretty much threw in everything and started mixing. Unfortunately, it seems that I forgot to take a pic of the finished product. It looked much more like your typical tartare.

fried bread The main distinguishing feature about this Czech tartare was the fried bread that it came with, along with whole cloves of garlic. You heard me right - fried bread. Oh man, what an absolutely brilliant idea. The waiter instructed us to mix up the tartare, throw on some garlic, and put it all on the bread. And boy was it delicious. The fried bread was crunchy (and quite oily), but still had a bit of doughy chewiness to it. I think this stuff beats the usual crouton type of thing that comes with tartare. I'm surprised I've never seen it used anywhere else. So the tartare was just alright, but the bread was freakin awesome. All for about $7. I would love to try one of the great steak tartares I've had with a side of the fried bread and see what that would be like. Seems pretty foolproof...