Saturday, April 05, 2008

prague: pork knee and other hearty stuff

me and pork knee - a phrase seldom uttered

Czech food, I love you. Where have you been all these years? I admit this new crush is based on only a few lucky meals, but seriously, I loved what I ate in Prague. For one thing, I had no idea until this trip that I love cabbage. Here's a sampling of some of the good things we ate.

Our first meal in Prague, we hunted for an hour and finally settled on Restaurace Certovka, near Kampa Park, with a patio overlooking the Charles Bridge. It was absolutely empty (I hate empty restaurants) and we expected the worst). But it turned out to be our best meal of the trip. Here's my meal from here, potato pancakes, ham and sweet apple cabbage - yum, yum, yum!

Tyler had goulash with dumplings, good but not my favorite:

My favorite sausage of this trip was this one topped with sauerkraut and horseradish. I didn't even know I liked either of these toppings but I couldn't get enough of it. At breakfast, this booth was serving the same sausage topped with a fried egg:

Our car driver recommended Olympia, one of the Kolkovna chain, basically a cleaned up pub with better food. After returning home, I've seen lots of bad reviews online from expats living there (expensive, grumpy service, tourist trap, etc.) but we liked it. The food was good (we had much, much worse elsewhere) and seemed freshly-made compared to other places that clearly were serving frozen mass-produced stuff. We could get all the Czech standards in one place, instead of hunting and pecking all over town. The prices were the same or lower than everywhere else we looked (~200kc is a normal main dish price, but on the Old Town Square, you'll pay 2-3 times that). The service was fine, but we did eat slightly off-peak hours. Below is my yum meal of goose leg, potato dumplings and sweet cabbage.

Here's a detail pic of the Pork Knee I ordered at Olympia's sister restaurant. Who can resist ordering something with a description like this: "Knuckles roasted on black beer, with onion and grandmother cabbage crackles."

Below is Olympia's menu (click for a closer look).


Jeff and Rose said...

I still ache for the cabbage salads we ate in Ukraine. I've tried to replicate them a thousand times, but to no avail...I can vouch for the Eastern European cabbage recipes. They have changed my life!!

Strogoff said...

Tanya, I don't know how long you stay in Prague, but if you love Czech food as you say, I'll have to show you some of these smoky taverns where the beer is great, the food "home made" (tasty), and the whole is cheap ('round 120Kc, 200Kc for a dish is NOT a normal price). The "Kolkovna" chain is really not in my good books.

Tanya said...

Hi strogoff - unfortunately we're back home, so no more czech food for now. I agree that 200kc is not a good price, but as I walked around Prague, it seemed to be an average price (about 150-250 for main dishes). I also agree that the Kolkovna chain is not ideal, but it was easy and pretty good. I should have done more research on restaurants before I went. It's so hard to pick a good place on the fly. It's almost impossible to tell from the menu and looks of restaurant whether it will be good. Seasoned travellers always say look for a place that locals go and where the menu isn't translated into several languages. I started to wonder if that was even possible in Prague considering how touristy it has become. Plus, I was dragging along two small children so I had some limitations. I'd love some suggestions for my next trip if you care to post them.

SwissMiss said...

Wow, those Czechs sure know how to do up meat and potatoes!

Strogoff said...

Tanya, I'll send you some hints, where to eat, and where to drink, but not now. Restaurants change so fast here (new cook = new restaurant) and that's one of the reasons why I do not mention any in my blog (or very rarely). The point is, as you mentioned, that in Prague 1, most of the restaurants rely on tourists instead of locals, that's why they don't care selling bad food for big money. Now before you come to Prague next time, drop me a few lines in an Email, and I'll be happy to inform you about the "go to" and the "run away from" :-)

Claire said...
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