Open doors, flowing taps
Works in progress, water in its classic form
Posted: February 13, 2013
In the land where beer flows like wine, it's surprisingly difficult to get a glass of tap water.
The year 2013 has so far been promising for local foodies, with a host of new places opening up across the spectrum of tastes and interests. As mentioned in the recent review of Bistrot M. at La Boucherie Moderne, there's been a crop of personable deli/bistros offering changing select menus of carefully sourced specialty items from a variety of cuisines.
In January, a new raw-food restaurant opened up in Žižkov called The Secret of Raw, and, at the other end of the food-preparation spectrum, the start of February saw the much-anticipated opening of Fish & Chips Grill & Rotisserie on Dlouhá street in Old Town, which has fans of the quintessential British pub (or post-pub) food licking their lips and readying their chops to decide how authentic an approach the people also behind Zdenek's Oyster Bar have taken. When the menu was first put online prior to the eat-in/takeout's first day, there was nothing short of an uproar over the steep prices: Initially, a "large" portion of battered cod was to cost 295 Kč, which the owners lowered to 220 Kč, including chips and mushy peas. Time will tell whether this will really be the answer to our prayers, or too good to be true.
The Ambiente group of Lokál restaurants, which take a Slow Food approach to classic Czech cuisine and pub fare, opened the doors to its third branch, all the way out in the suburb of Kunratice, in Prague 4. The other two locations are right in the city center, in Old Town and in Malá Strana, so the move is sure to please at least a few residents of the sprawling suburban district.
Fans of Pepe Nero's authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas now have another option for getting their fix: There's a new outlet in Vinohrady, at Vinohradská 83, in the space formally occupied by the Italian eatery Gusto. The address boasts a lovely garden out back, as if any of us needed another reason to eagerly look forward to the spring and summer.
Tapping into a good idea
Diners have long been baffled at the lack of options for getting simple tap water - let alone for free or automatically - at Prague restaurants and cafés. There have been several initiatives over recent years to remedy this, and, indeed, there are happily more options these days for ordering a carafe of tap water, albeit often for a small charge although often with creative garnishing like rosemary, cranberries and orange slices (like at Love Kido, for example) or with fresh mint and cucumber (like they do at Yam Yam).
There's now a special app for mobiles (at the moment, though, only for iPhones) that lets you know what restaurants and cafés nearest to you have options for tap water. The aim of Kohoutkova.cz is to encourage more establishments to offer tap water, and the website, which has information about the app (in Czech only), also has an interactive map of Prague listing the participating places.
New menus and special menus
It's difficult to keep track of how many times restaurants change up their menus, be it for seasonal specialties or new vision or management, but it does mean there's always something new on offer even at tried-and-tested places. Kuláťak on Vítězné náměstí has a new menu, with the likes of bruschetta with prawns and Mornay sauce, goat cheese salad, pasta with veal, pike perch filet and goose-leg confit, among other items.
At Lví Dvůr by Prague Castle, there's now a tasting club that meets once a month to enjoy a special menu of new items the restaurant offers. The event on Wednesday, Feb. 13, marks the second meeting, and diners can register online at Lvidvur.cz for the three-course meal, which includes zander with fresh spinach and grilled fennel with saffron noodles, and fettuccine with rabbit ragout, fresh spinach and Pecorino. The menu costs 480 Kč and includes selected wines.
In the Corinthia hotel in Prague 4, the Rickshaw restaurant has a new Indonesian menu for the month of February, featuring an array of curries. The Italian restaurant Casa De Carli in Old Town has a new menu and a whole new interior, which, as I noted in my review of the well-executed establishment back in October, had been the only downside to an otherwise stellar meal.