Some months, not that much of interest really happens on Prague’s food scene.
November was not one of those months.
I was really excited to hear that U Kurelu (the historic Zizkov pub owned by the people behind popular burger joint The Tavern) will have it’s kitchen up and running soon with a regular menu, after months of hosting pop-up nights. I don’t know exactly what will be on the menu but I’m told there will be some American-style BBQ food and a couple of burgers – my hopes are high, as they’ve been experimenting with all sorts of delicious things at their pop-ups.
My personal favourite so far was their take on a Vietnamese-style banh mi sandwich, which has been on the menu a few times in the past couple of weeks. I tried it with slow-roasted pork belly braised in beer, glazed with slivovice and cooked slowly for hours. Pork isn’t my favourite thing ever, but I could’ve eaten a good few plates of this sublimely tender meat and creamy fat all by itself. This is their photo, but it looked just as good, if not better.
They also have some interesting beers. I’m told they’ll soon be tapping a new craft beer called Klinec Katz, which is brewed to a recipe created by a local Zizkov resident. I tracked it down at Beergeek and found it was very, very hoppy – though it was enjoyable I’m not personally a fan of really hoppy beers. I know lots of people are though, and if you’re one of them you should look out for it.
– Then there’s the place everyone’s been talking about: Agave. This is the new Mexican “concept” restaurant which has opened up on Masna, Prague 1, in the space that was once occupied by Bohemia Bagel. It describes itself as having “cutting edge” Mexican cuisine, and being the “newest and best” Mexican restaurant in Prague. Quite a claim.
I haven’t been to Agave yet. But reviews so far have been mostly good. It seems like there’s a lot more focus on quality – with prices to match. The photos I’ve seen of the interior look like a dramatic improvement on the old venue, too.
Agave was created by chef Glenn Spicker, who was behind Bohemia Bagel as well as Burrito Loco and U Malého Glena, I don’t know if that information means much to you but to be honest, it didn’t fill me with excitement. The food at Burrito Loco tastes ok, but I’ve stopped going as their food preparation areas were always a total mess. Bohemia Bagel was/is worse – especially the grim, dirty location in Holešovice with its depressing clientele of morning drinkers, and staff who seem like they’re on another planet.
So I wasn’t sad to see the Old Town Bohemia Bagel go. I was hoping something more modern would pop up in its place, and it looks like that’s what’s happened.
– After starting out with a popular stall at the Kulat’ak market, the Raclette U Syráku cheese sellers have now opened up their very own bistro in Dejvice, Prague 6. I was lucky enough to come across their stand at the Naplavka St Martin’s wine festival, where I tried their raclette cheese served the traditional Swiss way, with baby potatoes and pickles.
I liked seeing how the big raclette rounds are heated with a special machine, and then the melted raclette is scraped down over the potatoes. It was warm and comforting, good-quality, properly creamy raclette cheese, so I was happy. It makes me almost as happy as Swiss cheese fondue!
– Namesti Miru continues to fill up with interesting food spots: new cafe Deserterie opened up recently at no.16. I only popped in for a quick visit, but its a cosy place for coffee and a cake, a salad or a bowl of goulash soup. I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t have any more traditional Czech types of cakes on my visit; just lots of cheesecakes, which I’m really fussy about. I thought these were going to be made central European-style with tvaroh (which I hate – sorry!) but it turned out to be with Lucina (a local brand of cream cheese) and cream, which was better.
Still, I’m the worst person ever to be judging cheesecake because I only really like the unbaked kind, with lots of mascarpone, or Philadelphia at a push. But enough cheesecake waffle – it’s a nice place, try it for yourself!
– I was intrigued by the new Checkout Food nearby on Francouzska, where they have quick lunches and things like kebabs, hummus, etc with a middle eastern flavour. I haven’t been yet, but anywhere with home-made hummus is on my list. Even if the name makes me think of the far less exotic Albert supermarket checkout.
– Meanwhile, Vinohradský Pivovar is up and running. This renovated pub on Korunni street opened (or reopened) to much fanfare recently. It’s a historic brewery which began production in 1893, stopping during the second world war. It has just been brought back to life at an apparently very high cost, with a very modern makeover, and everyone had very high expectations.
I went a few weeks after it opened, on the night that they started tapping their own beer. Friends had been before this and they had tried a different beer from the menu, believing it to have been brewed here – mostly because the waiter had told them it was. This turned out not to be true. Not a good start.
It’s bright and extremely noisy in there (two things a good pub should never be!) but I was impressed by the super cool-looking mini-brewery, which you can see through a great big oval window. Everything here, from the beermats to the website, is carefully designed.
One thing that seemed a bit weird to me was that at least half the people in there were drinking wine. Come on, people, I thought. Who comes to a brewery to drink WINE?
But when I tried the beer myself, I quickly developed some sympathy with the wine drinkers. Maybe they had tried it and that was the problem. It was overly bitter and had this weird synthetic, citrusy taste (think lemon Cif) that later turned smoky… and not in a good way. Pivni Filosof hit the nail on the head when he wrote that it had a “burnt-cable note.”
I later found out this was from a “test batch”, but it would be nice if they’d waited until they’d brewed something decent before inflicting it upon their customers. I left most of mine, and no one wanted to drink it for me (that was a first!)
Their food menu did look intriguing though, as did their wine list – by far the longest I’ve seen in a brewery pub, ever. I’ll be back to try it, but if a historic brewery like this becomes better known for its wine and food than its beer, well… what a shame that would be.
– And I know most of you have already been there plenty of times, but I had to share this photo from Fierro Grill on Rumunska, of possibly the tastiest thing I’ve eaten this month. Next time, instead of ordering the steak sandwich (which is great, but I know you’ve all tried it!) get the spicy Choripan (Argentinean sausage) sandwich. You won’t regret it!
If you’ve tried any of these places I’d love to hear what you thought.