La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise
110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic
Tel. +420 222 311 234
Food type: Modern Czech
Website: La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise
On our final night in Prague, we dined at La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise (or La Degustation for short) which is the other Michelin starred restaurant in the city. In 2012, La Degustation (along with Alcron) were both awarded with a Michelin star. Chef Oldřich Sahajdák is revered amongst his culinary peers in the Czech Republic and his ambitious restaurant aims to re-interpret 19th century recipes by Marie B. Svobodová. However, to call him the Czech version of Heston Blumenthal would be unfair since his cooking style is miles apart from the British wizard.
The dining room is L shaped, with an open kitchen where you can see the chefs at work… well if you are lucky enough to be sat at the correct section of the restaurant that is! Thankfully we booked way in advance and were sat pretty much next to the kitchen and got to catch all the action. It was nice to see the kitchen running like a well-oiled machine with no shouting or angry outburst a la Gordon Ramsay. This was poetry in motion. The restaurant also adopts a “Noma-esque” approach when it comes to service where some of the dishes would be brought to the diner by the chefs themselves.
The menu, delivered to the diner in a little envelope, is strictly tasting menu only. You only have to decide between a shorter 6 course “Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise” menu and a longer 11 course “Degustation du Chef” menu which features all the same courses of the shorter menu and few extras. Most, if not all of the produce used in the menu is sourced locally. The restaurant also offers a unique juice pairing with the menu for those who do not want to drink. As we had a rather heavy lunch earlier during the day, we both opted for the shorter 6 course menu and the juice pairing.
Even as you are just seated, the restaurant starts ambushing you with little surprises. A little pickled radish served on top a flower-pot is brought to you along with a warm towel – its function no doubt to awaken your senses for what is to come. More snacks soon follow, the best of which was a very delicious duck croquette.
The initial dishes from the tasting menu incorporates plenty of acidity which I’m a huge fan of but I understand that this may not be to everyones liking. Take for example a dish of Asparagus & Peas – the dish incorporates both green and white asparagus along with peas and pea shoots but what brings the dish alive is the fermented asparagus juice which is poured table side by our chef. The dish strangely reminded me of a comforting pickled vegetable dish my grandmother used to make.
Further down the menu, it was nice to see the Big Green Egg in action with the preparation of the pork belly dish. This was essentially the chef’s take on streaky bacon with the thin strips of pork belly quickly finished on the barbecue to give it a nice smoky finish. I would normally be alarmed by the addition of strawberries in any savoury dish, but the ones used in the dish were sour and helped balance the richness of the pork.
When our main course arrived it was in the form of their signature beef tongue with yellow peas. I absolutely adore offal and when it is prepared with so much love, it warms my heart. The tongue had been slow cooked and then glazed – it just melted away in the mouth. On the side was yellow peas (or split peas) in various forms which complemented the beef well.
Dessert was a simple affair especially after all the fireworks in the preceding courses. Only one dessert was on offer – rhubarb and hazelnuts was essentially a very clever deconstructed rhubarb crumble. Although not complicated, this was the perfect way to end the meal.
Coming here, on the back of a disappointing meal at Alcron, we did not expect much from La Degustation. We were however pleasantly surprised as we really enjoyed our time here. The dishes here were not only interesting and had plenty of technique but more importantly tasted good. There was also a sense of progression with the tasting menu with lighter dishes with high acidity served first to awaken the palate before richer dishes came in for the knockout punch. We also found the juice pairing fun and worked well with the dishes – who knew jerusalem artichoke juice would pair well with egg and mushrooms? Our only regret was that we were full from our lunch and was not able to try their longer tasting menu. Maybe on our next trip to Prague!