"I want to explore the world. I want to watch TV in a different time zone. I want to visit strange, exotic malls. I want to live, Marge! Won't you let me live?"
A strange, exotic mall has opened in the center of Prague.The Palladium mall is certainly big. It is certainly an eye-popping architectural expression of modern design, a vast amalgam of concrete, escalators, and glass.People will argue about whether this is a great addition to the Czech capital. Or a tragedy.
Does Prague need more H&Ms, C&As, and Marks & Spencers? That's a debate for another time and place.
I'm here to talk about food and drink.
So, after you walk into the Palladium, hop on one of those escalators. And then another one. And then another one.
And they are not all next to each other, so you have to do some walking. Past some shops, of course.
The top floor of the Palladium is where you will find the restaurants and most of the food. I hesitate to call it a food court.
The Palladium website calls it "Patro Gurmán," meaning Gourmet Floor.
For the most part, these are not fast-food places. In fact, you will have a hard time finding a cheap meal at this high altitude.
There are mostly a lot of sit-down restaurants with ambitious aspirations. And at many, you will pay fancy, sit-down restaurant prices. I saw more than a few main courses in the 300 CZK range and full meals at many restaurants could easily hit the 500 CZK mark.
Here's an exhaustive and exhausting tour of what you will find.
At the top of the escalator is Tretter's Cafe. This is an outpost of the trendy and expensive Old Town cocktail bar.
This Tretter's is for people who have graduated from the original bar's pickup scene. There is actually a small play area for children.
If drinks and coffee at Tretter's feel too upmarket for you, then head over to Harley's Cafe Bar.This is a miniature, mall version of the subterranean den of late-night drunken dancing on Dlouhá. But something tells me they will be serving more cappuccinos than caipirnhas. And I believe they'll have much less dancing.
There is another place for coffee and cakes called Daylong Cafe. At the back, it has a disco, but I walked by once in the evening, and it was packed with teenagers.The main decorative features here seem to be blue lighting and crudely cut sticks lined up around the cafe.
There is a fancy buffet restaurant called Taste the World.
It has a salad bar where you can serve yourself, a grill station, a pasta station, a bread station, and a dessert station.
The salad bar had a lot of different offerings, not just basic stuff, and wasn't too expensive. But I wouldn't eat it. I know they've just opened, but the lettuce and rucola was sadly wilted when I was there.
The grill station offered a pork steak for 199 CZK and included potatoes or grilled vegetables. A beef steak was 249 CZK. The dessert station said the sweets were "homemade." In a mall? Seemed like they were playing a little fast and loose with the term. All the cakes looked a little too uniform and perfect.
Anyway, you throw in a dessert and a drink here, along with your grilled meat, you are looking at a pretty substantial tab.
There always seemed to be big lines at a place called L.A. Finger Food. This was probably because it is one of the cheapest outlets, making a variety of fried items, sandwiches, and wraps.The line at the counter was also probably a result of the fact that only one or two people seemed be putting together the food for everyone.
A little further along, there is a Mediterranean restaurant called Uno.I had a brief look at the menu. It was a fairly short document, and not too much jumped out at me.
There is an Indian restaurant called Chanchala.It is fairly small inside, but like many places, there is more seating out in front amid the crowds.
Amid white, hanging curtains is a restaurant called El Emir, which serves Middle Eastern cuisine.Lamb is a specialty here. So are some fairy high prices, with some over 300 CZK . But there are a few sandwich/wraps that are more affordable.
An Italian place called La Piazzetta looked quite popular.Most of the menu is devoted to pizza, but there are also a few pasta dishes and other Italian basic choices.
There is an Uruguayan steak house called Las Ruinas. The restaurant looks like something you might find at Disneyland.Angry, stone-faced gods stare down from the walls, demanding that you eat your meat.
The steak prices don't look too crazy at first, especially for imported beef. But I noticed that almost everything from the sides to the sauces have to be ordered separately, and they are not cheap.
A full meal will cost you mucho dinero.
Las Ruinas may also have some potential competition nearby. There is an Angus Burger-Angus Grillhouse just a few meters away.
Despite the name, this appears to be a Czech owned and operated establishment. The website links to a Pension - Angus Farm and Steakhouse in Nepomuk and the Aberdeen Angus Steakhouse in Plzeň.
For seafood, you can drop in on Nordsee. I noticed a wider variety of offerings than I'd seen at the Nordsee at Flora mall.Many items here are sold by weight, so it is another place where things can get expensive fast. V saw a man with a small tray of food pay 500 CZK. I saw a plate of lobster tails that cost much more than that.
The Asian restaurant Makakiko was quite popular. I'd attribute this the fact that it offers a fair number of Thai, Japanese, and Chinese style meals for 100-200 CZK.There are dishes like chicken teriyaki, red curry chicken with coconut milk, and fried rice or noodles.
There is also sushi. A single piece of salmon nigiri is 55 CZK. There is not a wide selection.
I tried a couple of hot main courses. It was decent food, but nothing too special. Just know that the take-away box they gave me was leaky.
If you decide to eat in, there is a quite a view from Makakiko's mall-side tables.I ate there once already. The service was frustratingly slow. I discovered that one reason for this was that my food was freshly prepared. So, I relaxed a bit. However, getting the bill was an ordeal.
There is an eye-catching conveyor belt sending hot and cold items around the restaurant. It is 298 CZK for all you can eat at lunch, 398 CZK for dinner.
You cannot eat a la carte from here, which confused at least one person I saw. I looked carefully at the various items on the belt and, honestly, it didn't look worth it to me.
If all these international choices get your head spinning, and you don't know where you are anymore, Kasárna might remind you. This restaurant and pub serves actual Czech food.There are classic dishes like pork knee (koleno), and the prices are a bit more reasonable than other restaurants in the mall. They serve Staropramen, Stella Artois, and Hoegaarden.
But there is more to the food and drink at the Palladium than just the top level. If you are having a caffeine withdrawal crisis, a cup of coffee will always be a few steps away. There is Fashion Cafe, Face Cafe, and Taboo Cafe.
The only one that mildly interested me was the Yessi Cafe.This is a mini version of a place with the same name just down the street on V Celnici.I like that place because it has sandwiches made-to-order with lots of really nice ingredients to choose from. The one in the mall has some decent looking sandwiches, but no made-to-order option. Too bad.
There are a few places worth noting at the very bottom level of the mall.
Au Gourmand is a French bakery and pastry shop that is connected to the place with the same name on Dlouhá.There were lots of nice looking cakes, croissants, quiches, salads, and sandwiches.I'd say this would be a favorite place to go, except the prices are pretty steep. I lusted after a piece of Black Forest cake, but the 98 CZK price tag put me off.I did notice later that the cake is the same price at the Dlouhá shop. For comparison, a slice of fancy cake at the Half & Half shop on Wenceslas Square goes for 60-70 CZK.
There is small a wine and spirits shop. The limited selection of wines tended to be on the expensive side.What caught my attention here was the large selection of single malt scotch whiskeys that took up one whole wall. There were several varieties of Macallan, Lagavulin, Talisker, and Glenmorangie, just to name just a few.
Fresh fish are not the easiest commodity to find in Prague, and I saw a pretty nice-looking fishmonger in the Palladium's bottom floorIt's called Seafood Shop. The fish I saw there were very clear-eyed, indicating freshness. There were also clams, mussels, and a variety of oysters. Some were 60 CZK each.The shop was also selling meats like a whole rack of lamb.
For somewhat more pedestrian tastes, there is Centrum Delikates.Here, you'll find your hams, salamis, sausages, salads, cheese, chlebíčky, which are Czech open-faced sandwiches.
Finally, there is an Albert supermarket on this level. Albert is not my favorite chain in the city, but it will do in a pinch if I need to pick up some basics.
When you are all done shopping, you can easily jump on the metro to get home. The Náměstí Republiky metro station for the B Line is right under the mall. Plenty of trams stop nearby
But I figure a few people who eat at the Palladium will have their driver fetch them out front with the limo.
The Gulfstream V and exotic malls await.