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Prague restaurants offer balanced gastronomical tour


Richard Ouzounian
Toronto Star

PRAGUE–This is one of the world's most fascinating cities, filled with history that stretches from the Middle Ages through the "Velvet Revolution." You can eat heartily here, but take care with your choices, otherwise it may seem like you're wading through a perpetual sea of brown gravy towards a never-ending pork cutlet. These tips should help your culinary activities be as balanced as your tourism.

FRIDAY night

U MODRÉ KACHNICKY, NEBOVIDSKÁ 6; 257-320-308: Start your journey by crossing the famous Charles Bridge and turning left into the winding streets of Malá Strana ("the Lesser Town") where you'll find this famous dining landmark. The decor is eclectic kitsch and every table is nestled into its one intimate corner. But the food is superb, with traditional Czech cuisine elevated to high art. All of the various duck dishes are superb, as is the wonderful roast rabbit with lingonberry sauce. Save room for the palacinky crepes for dessert and look at the framed photos of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman who dined here when he was shooting Mission Impossible in Prague.


Café Savoy, Vitezna 5; 257-311-562: This glorious coffee house dates from 1893 and has all the art nouveau flourishes you would expect. It's in perfect condition because its stained glass windows were plastered over from 1939 through 1989.

Now it's a place to sit and enjoy one of their prodigious breakfasts, each named after a different country.

The French Breakfast is a French baguette, fried sweet toast with maple syrup, grilled sausage with french fries, Prague ham, boiled egg, French blue cheese, butter, homemade jam, croissant, grapes, fresh orange juice, café au lait. Rest afterwards is required.


U medvidku, Na Perstyne 7; 224-211-916: You have to experience an authentic Czech pub at least once and the food here is better than most, while the ratio of tourists to locals is a lot lower.

Make sure you go to the pub on the right, not the higher-priced and stuffier restaurant on the left.

Once there, place a coaster in front of you to indicate you're ready for some beer, glance through the menu and write your choice on the pad the waiter gives you.

Everything is hearty, everything is good, but the stuffed pork loin with red cabbage and dumplings will keep you going for a while.


Rybi trh; Tynsky Dvur 5; 224-895-447: After all this heavy food, you need something lighter, so seek out this well-concealed seafood restaurant in a tiny square behind the famous Tyn Church. Dine on impeccably fresh oysters, eel, sole, turbot – just about any fish that's in season. They cook it simply, but superbly and your stomach will thank you. Your wallet will also be thinner: fresh seafood is very expensive in Prague.


Kavarna Obecni dum; Námestí Republiky 5; 222-002-763: This grand café is part of the magnificently restored Municipal House, another triumph of art nouveau: giant windows, copious chandeliers, mirrored walls and gold trim. You'll feel like you've gone back 100 years and are a member of café society. The food is limited, but the pastries and coffee are excellent, so have something sweet, sip a café au lait and dream.


Kavarna Slavia; Smetanovo nabrezi 1012; 224-218-493: End your visit with some modern history along with excellent goulash and decadent cream cakes. This art deco café was the meeting place for Prague's intellectual and political élite for most of the 20th century. Milan Kundera said it was his favourite place to eat and Václav Havel pronounced it an important part of his life as well. The prices are reasonable, the rosewood and onyx decor is striking and the sense of history is palpable.




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