Malé náměstí 138/4
Praha 1, 110 00
Tel. +420 224190901
Food type: Modern Czech
Having woken up at 4am to travel to Heathrow in order to catch our flight to Prague, the only thing on my mind when we arrived in this fairy tale of a city was to get some shut-eye. My fiancée was having none of that though, insisting we make the most of the day and do some sight-seeing. Grudgingly, I freshened up my sleep deprived carcass, hauled on some new clothing and we trundled out of our hotel onto the streets.
We had chosen to stay at the Intercontinental Prague for two reasons – the hotel chain does look after their guests with Ambassador status very well and more importantly the hotel itself was located just a short walk from Old Town Square. This is of course where we chose to begin our sight-seeing, but finding a good place to eat was going to be tricky. Tourist hotspots are rife with quick cash grab restaurants serving not so authentic food at highly inflated prices. I was determined to grab a bite first before doing any touristy stuff having only had a bacon sarnie at the airport as any remote form of food. Our first choice, a restaurant called Le Terroir (more on that in a future post) was shut on Monday, so we wandered around hoping to find somewhere remotely good to eat. Hopes were not high…
Looking around the eateries near the square, one caught our eye – Nuance restaurant located at the Hotel Rott. Peering in, the restaurant was pretty empty (then again so is Medlar during weekday lunch) but the people eating in there were all local. That seems positive enough. The restaurant sells itself as a Czech restaurant but re-intepreted in a modern way. More importantly, the prices on the a la carte menu were relatively cheap (by British standards) so even if this was a complete disaster of a meal at least we wouldn’t feel completely ripped off. There is an even cheaper 2 course set lunch menu for CZK145. I will let you do the maths – you may struggle to buy a sandwich at Marks & Spencers for that amount. We chose to stay with the a la carte menu with more modern European starters and Czech mains.
Signs were good when our starters arrived. A dish of chicken dumplings with artichoke veloute was genuinely good. What you get here are three little quenelles of gently poached chicken mousse sat on top of a bed of creamy polenta. Some meaty shiitake mushrooms gave this dish some body to contrast the artichoke velvety artichoke veloute. Would these beat Ducasse’s chicken quenelles? Of course not, but taken for what it was it was damn delicious!
Moving on to mains, pečená kachna or roast duck is traditionally served with dumplings and braised red cabbage. The dish has a few little tweaks but still keeping the spirit of the original dish. Instead of braised red cabbage, it now comes in the form of a cabbage jam with good amount of sweetness and acidity to cut through the richness of the duck. I wouldn’t have minded if my confit duck leg came still attached to the bone, but the chef had gone to all the trouble of deboning it. I don’t think I will ever get potato dumplings but they were decent enough and I understand the need to fill your stomach on the cheap.
We skipped dessert, desperate to get on with our sight-seeing attempts before it started to rain. The bill, with a couple of Czech beers came up to roughly CZK 1,200. That’s roughly £30. For Two. With the quality of cooking on show, it almost felt like we were ripping the restaurant off! I’m sure this is a lot of money for the average Czech person but for someone used to paying London prices, this was a steal. If there was a place in London serving food of this quality at such prices do let me know. Naturally, we happily paid and left a fat tip before trundling off to Old Town Square.