Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Neklid Restaurant

If you live around the border between Vršovice and Vinohrady, there are quite a few options if you feel like walking for your dinner.

The best in the area is Mozaika, but it is a bit of an uphill trek, and a shade too pricey to visit on a very regular basis. 

Atelier isn't the same since the original cook and owner left. 

Potrefená Husa has the great bacon cheeseburger, but then there are the calories, and it is not so cheap. 

Waikiki has their interesting perspective on Mexican and Italian, but alas, no Hawaiian fare. 

There's Mon Ami, but Balkan cuisine is not something I can eat all the time. 

Down the block on Kodanská stands Sawadi, but much to my disappointment, it is a very odd interpretation of Thai.

And some of these places have a big strike against them for achieving regular "local" status: They are more than 200 meters away.

I always run the list through my mind, but it is usually an empty exercise. It is rare that any of them can compete with my favorite local spot: Neklid Restaurant.
Neklid has so many of the important qualities of a great local:

1. It is pretty cheap
2. Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus, and Primator Weizenbier on tap
3. A friendly, smiling staff
4. More than the usual Czech cuisine AND it tastes good
5. Less than 200 meters away

What kind of food is it? I'd call it ICI: Interpretive Czech-International. Anyone who has lived in this country for a while has tasted Czech versions of their favorite international dishes. This type of cooking usually bears little resemblance to authentic recipes from other nations. You might find lettuce lilting on your fajitas or frozen corn killing your curry.

Yes, Neklid has its own interpretations, but they actually taste good. Sometimes very good.

The chicken Caesar salad is a perfect example. It really bears little relation to a true Caesar. This one does not have romaine lettuce. It even has some cabbage mixed in at the bottom. But it also has succulent, well-seasoned and freshly cooked pieces of chicken on top. Lots of it. It also has freshly fried bacon that has not been sitting around all day waiting to be reheated.There are tomatoes, boiled eggs in quarters, croutons, shaved Parmesan cheese, and a rather ordinary approximation of Caesar dressing. It is very big and I usually find it difficult to eat the whole thing.

If this still doesn't sound appealing, then how about if it is only 119 CZK? And what if I told you that the Pilsner Urquell is less than 30 CZK? Half a liter of Gambrinus is only 23 CZK. They also have Hoegaarden.

Another favorite is Neklid's grilled steak with soy sauce (Neklidná roštěnka na grilu se sojovou omáčkou). It comes with a wasabi cream drizzled on top, a bit of pure wasabi on the side, and some pickled ginger, the kind that comes with your sushi. Roštěnka is not the best cut of beef, but it is usually tender and easy to cut. Maybe it sounds like weird ICI cooking, but this is a great-tasting steak. It is one of the pricier items at 155 CZK. Potatoes are extra -- all are 30 CZK. The fries are good.

On a recent visit, I had the steak tartare with fried Czech bread (Tatarák - klasika, 4 topinky). The raw beef is excellent -- hand ground and bright red, with no visible fat. 

It is a fairly small
portion, but only costs 139 CZK. You season it yourself. The mound of meat is surrounded by tiny glass bowls filled with egg yolk, chopped onion, paprika, pepper, mustard, and whole garlic for scraping across the fried bread (topinky). 

Mix the meat and seasonings as you like and spread it on the bread. Heaven.

For those concerned about eating raw meat, I have been eating this dish on a regular basis for years and have never had a single problem. V thinks my brain is already full of holes, which may afford an immunity to the human variant of mad cow disease.

V ordered the vegetarian fajitas (Fajitas se zeleninou, fazolkami, tortillou a salsou - vegetariánské). Not your classic version by any measure. They bring out a hot iron plate, though not really sizzling, with green beans, carrots, eggplant, and white beans, along with flour tortillas, sour cream, and salsa. Relatively healthy and very filling for 129 CZK.

I also like their chicken wings (Pikantní kuřecí křídla se zakysanou smetanou), eight for 115 CZK, which have a variation of sweet Thai chili sauce on them. As near as we can tell, the bottled sauce is mixed with honey and soy sauce. It tastes pretty good, but not a major culinary achievement, either.

On another visit I tried the grilled pork steak with onion rings, red and white shredded cabbage and tartar sauce (Steak z krkovice na grilu s cibulovými kroužky a majonézovou omáčkou) for 129 CZK. It was a very juicy, a little fatty, but nicely seasoned with salt and pepper. The chef really knows how to season meat. I'd have it again.
V got grilled vegetables with honey for 74 CZK. There were red peppers, zucchini, eggplant, tomato, and onion. She liked it.
They also have pork ribs for 115 CZK, which look good, but I still haven't tried them.

Neklid Restaurant is not much to look at. The furniture is plain and generic. The blond wood paneling gives the place a cheap feeling. But Neklid is cheap in a good way, and there's a wealth of good things to eat there.
I wouldn't say it is the kind of place to go far out of your way for. Don't cross town just to go to Neklid. But I'd definitely say it is worth traveling more than 200 meters to go there.

Neklid Restaurant
Ruská 34
Praha 10 - Vršovice
Tel. 777 718 787
For reservations in English: 775 974 682


Anonymous said...

"For those concerned about eating raw meat"

Ever tried raw lamb? The Lebanese place next to the Prague Stock Exchange has it.

I like the sound of Neklid, thanks.

Brewsta said...

I have tried it. I like it.

Anonymous said...

Thought about it, now gonna go.
Thanks for doing the dirty wor, Brewsta.

Anonymous said...

Dirt cheap?

A stupid salad for CZK 120?

No sane person would pay more than CZK 50 for a salad... For some real meal, CZK 120 would be OK, but certainly not "dirt cheap"

Brewsta said...

Ah, ignorance is bliss. No salad could be worth more than 50 CZK? Ever?

Why not consider the size of the salad and the quantity and quality of chicken before commenting. No sane person could possibly.. Etc, etc.

Anonymous said...

Few Czechs have learned an appreciation for real food, as witnessed by the Czenglish comment posted above and the overall ignorance of a people doomed to live their lives drowning in universal brown sauce.

Sad really. But kinda funny.
Tee hee hee.

Anonymous said...

Real food is steak, schnitzel, goulash or something like that. CZK 120 for such a meal would be OK (though not cheap). But for salad?

Anonymous said...

I recently paid 18€ for a salmon salad in Berlin, what of it?!

And salad is indeed "real food".

Anonymous said...

Crazy. Here you could buy 10 pounds of beef for EUR 18.

Anonymous said...

Call me a nutter, but I think you might be missing the point.

Anonymous said...

If you live in Vrsovice, you should also recommend/try Valetta on Mexicska near Ruska.

Stunning food at very good prices. Always empty because they don't advertise and somewhat hard to find.

Go there often as they also prepare dinners to go.

Only downside is no draft beer, but otherwise tremendous.

Brewsta said...

The old Prague Post reviewer, Evan Rail, strongly recommended Valetta in a number of articles.

I've been there a number of times. I might write it up myself someday. It pains me to say this:

I don't like it so much.

It pains me because they are really nice people and they are creative and try hard.

The problem for me: Almost all the dishes are just too sweet. The irony is, I have a big sweet tooth and like cuisines that are sweet, like Thai, etc.

I still go occasionally when I'm alone, but V says it is all too sweet for her and won't go anymore.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough. I accept that and agree with you that the owners are really nice and I hoping they do well as I wouldn't like to see that restaurant close.

I like it because it's great value for money, my wife loves the Duck Tangine (although I tend to go for the lamb) and it's just around the corner from where I live so I can get the their dishes to go.

Just fyi, the pictures of the boats on the wall near the bathroom are of the owner's son (the chef) as he worked for a few years on the QE II.

Nice blog, by the way, and while I may not agree with everything you write (for example I liked Evan Rail's reviews, but only because I couldn't stand reading Theodore Schwinke's twisted writing before Evan came), I still appreciate your page for a different point of view.

Good luck with this.

Brewsta said...

Yeah, I actually worried about them too because business seemed pretty slow on the evenings I was in Valetta, and regardless of my feeling on the food, I didn't want them to fail.

But the owner said they actually do a very good lunch business with the people from the business-owned villas in the area.

Thanks for your understanding on the differences of opinion. Apparently, some people can get pretty upset about about food.

Anonymous said...

No problem and speaking of upsetting people, have just started reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.

That upset more than a few people who, in my opinion, needed the wind taken out of their sails.

Keep up the good work.

skip said...

Hello, I moved to Vrsovice two years ago and though now I spend more time in Poland, I tried most of the restaurants around Moskevska and Ruska street (there's really plenty of them). My favourite is definitely Ego, in Obloukova street, opposite to the main gate of Bohemians stadium. Duck breasts with rosti and lime-mint dip (around 190 Kc) or small schnitzels with mashed potatoes (around 160 Kc) are my favourites. Generally, they have moderate prices, some unusual combinations of food and generous portions. If you want just well eat in unexpensive way, this good choice.

Anonymous said...

BTW1, the veterinarian check of (an animal production untill it becomes) a raw meat is one of the safest in the world. So do not worry. It is OK to have a tatarsky biftek.
BTW2 - the Tatarak mixing should proceed as follows (worked by fork in a soup spoon):
1-salt, pepper, cummin
2-all liquids (Worcestersauce, ketchup, mustard, egg yolk)
Bon apetite!