Friday, May 23, 2008

Buffalo Bill's (Closed)

"My restless, roaming spirit would not allow me to remain at home very long." -Buffalo Bill Cody
Did you know that chimichanga was originally a Spanish nonsense word that roughly translates as "thingamajig?"

I didn't. I discovered it in the course of my extensive research for this post.

I also found out that, according to Wikipedia, there is some dispute about the origin of the chimichanga.

Did a burrito accidentally fall into a deep fat fryer in Tucson, Arizona in 1922? Or was it later? And why, then, is it called Tex-Mex?

So many questions.

Whatever the answers, disputed or otherwise, there can be no disagreement that the chimichanga, like the tarte tatin, is one of culinary history's more successful accidents.

It has traveled the globe. The manifest destiny of the chimichanga brought about its eventual and inevitable migration to the city of Prague.

I arrived in the Czech capital not long afterward. Back then, I occasionally went to Buffalo Bill's for my chimichanga fix. And I thought it was an excellent version.

The place was run by an older American gentleman who told me he had some of the restaurant's harder-to-find ingredients shipped over from the states.

One day, Buffalo Bill's was sold, the chimichanga changed, and I stopped going.

That was a long time ago.

Much more recently, some friends went there for a burger and a beer and invited me to join them when I finished work.

I did so with a mixture of nostalgia and curiosity.The restaurant, down a flight of stairs from the street, hadn't changed at all, as far as I could tell.

There were still all the Buffalo Bill Cody and Annie Oakley photos on the walls, along with the other Wild West Show memorabilia.

My friends both had hamburgers, but they were long gone by the time I arrived. Knowing of my interest in the subject, they told me they enjoyed the burgers and that they were pretty good, but not great.

The bacon burger costs 213 CZK, according to the menu on the Internet. It comes with fries. That's toward high end of the burger price range spectrum, as far as I am concerned.

But it is still cheaper than the Potrefena Husa Burger or the Hergetova Cihelna Burger. Those are good, but the prices are too hard for me to swallow.

Buffalo Bill's beer was a little easier to swallow. I ordered a half-liter of 12-degree Budvar (44 CZK). It was good.

The price was a little higher than average, but this is to be expected at a restaurant in the center that gets a lot of tourists.

In fact, there was a very long table set up next to us where a large group of Dutch wedding revelers were seated later.I was hungry, so I called ahead and had my friends order me a beef chimichanga.

I saw later on the menu that there are two types. There's the "Tex Mex Beef" (196 CZK) and the "Beef & Bean" (186 CZK). They got me the "Tex Mex Beef", but if I were there, I would have gotten the bean version.

The flour tortilla was perfectly fried and crispy on the ends. But it did become soggy in the middle where the sour cream and salsa sat. It was good chunky salsa.The beef filling was better than I expected. It was well-cooked, nicely-spiced, and shredded easily on my fork.

I lamented the lack of beans or rice, but it was my own fault for ordering ahead blindly over the phone.

I cut it open and took a photo so you could get a better idea of how the beef was.As for the side items, this was really the disappointing part. Shredded red cabbage? A lettuce leaf? This was a little too much East meets West. I hoped was hoping for North meets South.

What kind of self-respecting Tex-Mex restaurant could serve these kinds of side items?

These were the same sides that stopped me from going to Buffalo Bill's when the management changed. I still have fond memories of the previous ownership's side items. I believe there were refried beans, fried rice, and pico de gallo.

Sides? That's what I'm talking about.

V joined us for beer just as the Dutch wedding party came in.

The restless, roaming spirit of Bill Cody took hold of us. Or perhaps it was there all along.

We decided to move on to a bar in Lucerna on Wenceslas Square. It unexpectedly turned into a long evening.

Buffalo Bill's
Vodičková 9
Prague 1
Tel. (+420) 224 948 624

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