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Prague Dec '13 trip report

Hi all. I went to Prague and stuffed my face for a little over a week leading up to Christmas. So beautiful that time of the year with all the markets and decorations! I ate a lot of street food. You can never go wrong with a sausage or a gooey smažený sýr. I'd lived there in the past and visit every couple of years, so some of these are revisits of restaurants I love. Some are new to me. Here are the highlights of my bigger meals.

Czech:
Lví Dvůr http://www.lvidvur.cz/en/index.php
A huge favorite of mine for many years. Wonderful traditional Czech food in a beautiful atmosphere with views of the castle gardens. Everything is good, but I love the spit roasted suckling pig plate. Juicy, full flavored, it is heaven. Served with crispy potatoes and a small salad. Pig perfection on a plate.

U Templářů http://www.utemplaru.cz/
A cozy cellar restaurant right off Old Town Square with superb food. This one was new to me, I ducked in on a rainy evening and had a wonderful steak done to a nice medium-rare. It was served with a black pepper cream sauce, and the mashed potatoes on the side were decadently buttery, but not heavy tasting. Huge menu here, something for everyone. I recommend a stop in here.

Potrefená Husa http://www.potrefena-husa.eu/en
A small chain with outposts throughout the city. Czech and continental food, always consistently good. The star of this pace is the tartare appetizer. Rich buttery tasting beef, and it's very well spiced. And because I like to beef it up, I went with the beef goulash. Tender, full of onion flavor, hearty and satisfying. The duck in beer jus is also very good.

Italian:
Locanda Marino: http://www.locandamarino.cz/o-nas.php
In my opinion, the best pizza in the city. Many varieties of pie, along with other Italian dishes. I've tried many of the pizzas over time, but always come back to prosciutto and arugula. Very nice Naples style pie, melt in your mouth prosciutto and fresh arugula. I saved room for this one, because I wanted to eat it all!

La Finestra: http://www.lafinestra.cz/en/uvod/
Lovely Italian, no pizza. A somewhat small but well executed menu. Changes somewhat with the seasons. I started with a plate of prosciutto and several kinds of mozzerella. So fresh! My entree was pork Saltimbocca. Juicy and peppery. On the side there was mashed potatoes with bits of olives and a very rich cream of sorts (?). Sadly no room for desert.

Asian influenced:
Sansho http://www.sansho.cz/en
Run, don't walk! This meal was one of the best of my life. When you go for dinner, the only option is an ever changing 6 course tasting, and it is spectacular. The highlight for me was a soft shell crab slider. Lightly coated on a perfect little pillowy bun. I was told this one is almost always on the menu. Beef rendang so full of well balanced gingery flavor. Salmon sashimi... I could go on, but the only way to know what you'll get is to just go and feast.

Lemon Leaf http://www.lemon.cz/en/
A longtime favorite of mine. Not the most authentic Thai in the world, but it's not a complaint, exactly. They do a bang up job of putting tasty food on the table. Very solid soups and curries. I had almond coated shrimp with a sour and salty chili dip. Freshly fried, quite good. Then the green curry with chicken. The rich flavor you would expect with good heat and plenty of fresh herbs. Served with Jasmine rice. Deserts seem to rotate, I lucked into a delicious coconut custard with sliced melon.

And here's a fun thing to do if you've got some time on your hands---pay a visit to the gastronomy museum. http://www.muzeumgastronomie.cz/en/home
A fun, shortish tour. The friendly owner will answer any questions and it provided a great look at how the average kitchen and cuisine of Central Europe and elsewhere has evolved. I quite enjoyed it.
And don't miss some refreshment at the Prague Beer Museum :) Kind of goes without saying.
http://www.praguebeermuseum.com/en/home

Dobrou chuť !!!

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  1. I'm drooling! Thanks for a great writeup, allie. Do you recommend resos before we arrive? Some places I've looked at don't have email listed and I'm not keen on international calls on my cell!

    I'm going to pour over these links. You did such a great job organizing this post. Thanks again.

    6 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      Hi c oliver! Thank you, I was hoping you'd find this :)
      Resos for sure at Sansho. I was able to do mine online. For Lví Dvůr, I would advise it, just to insure you get a table with a view. And possibly for Lemon Leaf.
      Sansho, I would do online about a week before the trip, and the other two, you'll probably be fine calling early on the day of from the hotel room, or have the concierge do it for you.
      I know you'll love this trip! There's just so much to try. Food in Budapest is also quite good, but I haven't been in over 10 years.
      I'll check back periodically, fire away with any questions!

      1. re: alliegator

        I did see that Sansho has online res. With wine, do you have an estimate of what dinner costs? It sounds so good. HELL, everything you wrote does :)

        We're staying at the Prague Imperial Hotel (woohoo, part of the tour!) I'm linking to a map so don't know if you can open.

        http://www.hotel-imperial.cz/Location...

        Having never been to Prague, I have no idea if it's central to any of the places you mention. Don't break it all out PLEASE, but would love a general sense. We're fine with walking and cabbing. Now I'm REALLY getting excited :)

        1. re: c oliver

          Two people with drinks at Sansho came it at around $125. Worth every penny. Other places are much more reasonable. An easy way to break down the money in your head is every 100 Czech crowns is $5.
          And for the hotel, I stayed across the street at the M Gallery Century. You're right where you want to be. Old Town Square and all of the restaurants I listed (except Lví Dvůr and Lemon Leaf) are an easy walk. You can cab it to either or take the scenic tram ride to Lví Dvůr . Your hotel will no doubt provide maps and maybe even transport tickets.

          1. re: alliegator

            For Sansho, that sounds QUITE reasonable. I'm really digging into your post (and getting quite hungry while doing it!). I had to laugh at U Templaru. Something for everyone indeed. Hawaiian pizza :)

            I'm not much of a beer person but will have to try some.

            Thanks again.

            1. re: c oliver

              I think it goes without saying to skip the pizza at that place :D
              Another one I'll recommend to you is right on Old Town Square.
              https://www.hoteluprince.com/restaura...
              It's designed to be a tourist trap, and it is, but it's never stopped me from enjoying the good food and the beautiful surroundings. You can take gorgeous pictures right from your outdoor table. And it would probably be agreeable to everyone if you get together with other is your group.
              I didn't check the current menu, put in the past I've always enjoyed a roasted duck plate. Large menu, no Pizza Hawaii!

              1. re: alliegator

                Seems every menu I look at has foie gras in some form. I suppose I could eat it every day :)

                That is a lovely restaurant.

                Does everyone in Europe know what great food Prague has? I'm quite impressed.

    2. People are slowly, but surely, latching on the the food in the Czech Republic. I'm happy to see it :) You can get some pretty horrible crap at 24 hr. traps for drunken stag parties and convenient tourist fuel. But for us food nerds, it's pretty easy to sniff out the good stuff.
      I saw in another thread that Lokál was mentioned. I didn't eat there this trip, but have in the past, and it is quite good. The Dlouhá location is easily within walking distance for you.
      http://www.ambi.cz/en/restaurace/

      8 Replies
      1. re: alliegator

        I've seen Lokal mentioned also and found the menu enticing. Stuffed beer heart. Mmmmm.

        OT, are we going to find much English spoken? Not a problem as I'm quite good at pointing and grunting :)

        1. re: c oliver

          I'd advise a reservation for Lokál if you chose a Thurs, Fri, or Sat night, just to be sure. From your hotel day of should be fine.
          And English is no problem. In the central area where you'll be, English is spoken by almost everyone in the service industry. Further afield in the outskirts, you may run into no English, but people are generally nice and willing to work around it :)

          1. re: alliegator

            Thanks. That's what we found in Turkey also re English.

            Just got a confirmation for Sansho! I forwarded their 'menu' to my husband and he thinks it looks great also.

            1. re: c oliver

              Great, I'm so glad you're excited about Sansho. My only regret is that I wasn't there longer so I could go twice!

          2. re: c oliver

            When we were in Prague last year, we made reservations at restaurants by calling directly and speaking in English. There were no problems in communicating, nor did we have any problem communicating with waitstaff.

            1. re: masha

              GREAT info! Thanks. I'm never sure how far 'east' one has to get to have serous issues with language. In Barcelona I could barely find anyone who DIDN'T speak English :)

              1. re: c oliver

                Sadly, most of our interactions with locals in most foreign countries consists of people in the hospitality industry -- hotel and restaurant employees -- where English may be a job requirement (we do not frequent restaurants that are "tourist traps" but we generally dine in restaurants located in central locations, where overseas visitors are common).

                My main indicia of the prevalence of English in a foreign country is the cab drivers. In some countries (including Spain, to use your example) we find that cab drivers cannot speak/understand more than a handful of English words (and, I am not criticizing them -- in most of those countries I cannot speak more than a handful of words in the local language). In Prague, by contrast, both of the cab drivers whom we encountered were close to fluent in English, albeit heavily accented.

                1. re: masha

                  We had a cab driver in Barcelona whose English was incredible. But, yeah, I generally agree. I will usually have an address written down so that I don't even have to screw up pronunciation :)

        2. Nice report.
          Thanks it's a keeper.