Prague - La Degustation
I'll start a new La Degustation thread as the previous one was related to perceived bad reviews and this one is because of the exceptional meal I enjoyed last week.
The dinner offering has changed since we were there about 1.5 years ago, last time there was an 11 course Czech themed menu and an 11 course International themed menu. On this occassion there was an 11 course menu that was a seasonal blend of Czech and International themes and a shorter 6 course menu drawn from the 11 courses. As always there is the offering of the wine pairing which should not be missed if you are a wine drinker. The sommelier at Degustation is one of the finest I have had the pleasure of experiencing.
We went with the full 11 course and I had the wine pairing. I won't run through all the dishes, just the highlights:
Smoked trout, cucumber jelly, dill and horseradish, with Proqin Sekt Matthias Brut. On it's own the dish was very good, very fresh flavours expertly combined, but the pairing with the sparkling wine took it to another level... amazing overall flavour pairing that blew my little mind.
Russian sturgeon caviar, green asparagus and green peas, with Berhard Ott Gurner Veltliner. Wow, incredible seasonal flavours that blended perfectly with the flavourful and fragrant Gruner. I expected the caviar to add saltiness and was even worried it would be too much, but instead it added umami, without a hint of over saltiness.
The killer dish of the night, for me, landed mid-way through the courses. Jerusalem Artichoke ice cream with apple and mustard and a late harvest Moscato d'Asti from Braida. Holy crap mind blowing was how I interpreted this dish. The mustard was house made, the apples had a vinegar application (not quite a quick pickling) and then the combination with the ice cream and Moscato was truly an experience I won't forget any time soon.
My SO's dish of the night was the Foie gras parfait, foie gras, sour cherry and grape juice, with Thanisch Riesling from 1993. The foie gras was freeze dried and then micro planed over the cherries and juice and combined into her favourite flavour combination of the evening. I, on the other hand, enjoyed trying the vintage Riesling, something I had not had before and found it to be an interesting depth of flavour, creamy and with a deeper colour than I normally associate with Riesling.
The next dishes were all good, I would not complain about anything but they did not stand out as highly as these others. I will say the wine choices for the 9th and 10th courses were very interesting. Both were very small batch, bio-dynamic, unfiltered wines (Frank Cornelissen - Magma rosso 2008 and Richard Stavek - Cuvee Spigle 2008). The wines were good but I found with both there was a real lack of nose, except for an alcohol scent and the wines themselves were less robust on the tongue and had more of a burn than I am used to with other wines. These did pair well with the sweetbread and then sous-vide chicken dishes respectively but just didn't work at the same level as the other pairings.
Lastly the cheese course was very special; I had an image of your standard 3 or 4 pieces of well selected cheeses, a compote, a little fresh fruit, maybe some nuts. Instead it was a crispy, gooey, cheese cracker on a hot stone with shaved hazel nuts and grated orange zest. I did not get a break down of the cheeses in the "cookie" but it was a beautiful combination and the orange zest made it truly memorable. The zest was heated a bit from the hot cheese/rock so when it was brought to your mouth you first got the aroma/flavour of fresh orange which worked so well with the crispy gooey cheese. It was paired with a local India Pale Ale (Matuska) which was in itself interesting in that it wasn't a wine.
All in all a great dinner, great service in an elegant room. A room that may get more elegant or at least fresher, as they will be closed from the end of June 2013 to mid-July 2013 for renovations.