"If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life." Frank Lloyd WrightPrague is filled with history and beautiful architecture at every turn. But there is also a place for modern and contemporary design. When it comes to restaurants, I wish there was more of it in this town.
Mistral Cafe is a place I consider a success in this area. The dining room achieves a clean, concrete simplicity that gives it the feeling of a gallery. That alone doesn't keep it filled. The cooking is also generally good and the prices are moderate.
The eye-catching design and somewhat unusual concept of another new eatery caught my eye and made me want to try.
I'm talking about the recently opened Katr Restaurant in Old Town.
But the most interesting aspect of the design is the tables with built-in gas grills, each with its own silver ventilation system descending from the ceiling.
We sat down at a table without a grill for lunch one day. It was much too warm a day to be anywhere near hot metal. We'd come back and cook another time.
The waiter delivered a basket.
I had a half-liter of Kozel (39 CZK).
She started off with a Katr Salad (170 CZK). This included young asparagus, avocado, mushrooms and a variety of lettuce.
There is a section of the menu where you can order raw meat or fish to grill yourself. But I ordered from their list of meals fully prepared in the kitchen. I had the Uruguayan rib eye steak with a veal and sage sauce and roasted sweet potatoes (400 CZK).
There was still plenty of pink at the center, as requested.
The waiter told Miss P that the kitchen could prepare something from the grilling menu if she wanted, so she ordered the sea bass. They charge by weight, so she got the minimum, 200 grams (280 CZK).
These fish nuggets were on the dry side, especially around the edges, and had little seasoning. We both found it very dull.
The potato puree with feta was quite salty and had the strong taste of fennel. They charge 70 CZK for sides that go with the grilled items. So the total price for the plate was 350 CZK. I liked the potatoes more than Miss P did.
With the grilled meat and fish, you can choose two of the three sauces. We had to remind the waiter about this, so they arrived later. The sauces are hoisin, tomato salsa, or homemade tartar.
The tartar and hoisin tasted generic, while the salsa was basically a combination of stewed tomatoes and tomato paste. I'd say they need a rethink.
I was pretty full, but when I saw the dessert menu, there was something I absolutely had to try. Churros!
There are a number of variations of this extruded, fried dough. I've had the ridged, cinnamon sugar covered sticks served alone in paper in Los Angeles and Barcelona. I've dipped them in hot chocolate in Madrid. I've had them Brazilian style, filled with dulce de leche, at London's Camden Market. Damn, that was good.
These churros appeared to be a non-ridged variety with the thinner dough common to southeastern Spain (90 CZK).
However, the dough was over-fried to hardness. A bigger issue was the cinnamon sugar. Large granules deeply caked the surface of the churros. I have a big sweet tooth, but I was trying to shake off sugar onto the plate. That didn't work too well.
These were the first churros I had ever seen in Prague, and I was disappointed. If they get better, I'd come regularly just for those.
There was a long wait for the bill. The meal, which included some of their more expensive dishes, added up to 1257 CZK.
I returned the following week to try their burger (199 CZK).
As for the meat, it was terribly dry, dense, and difficult to chew. The texture was unpleasant.
To wash down the bungled burger, I asked for their homemade lemonade. The waitress told me they only had the elderberry version, so I said I'd take that. What I got looked and tasted like lime and nothing else.
On the third visit, Miss P started with a vegetable salad with feta cheese, grilled artichokes, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, and onion.
After the salad, we were ready to do some cooking.
Miss P got the chicken (200 CZK) with a side of mixed vegetables for grilling (70 CZK).
The grill radiates a lot of heat, so perhaps it would be nice on a cold evening. It's something I'd avoid during hot weather.
With that high heat, the meat cooks the food super fast.
How was it?
It tasted like meat cooked on a hot pan with salt and pepper and perhaps some oil. In other words, it was fine, but nothing special. Sure, there was a novelty to it, but it's not something I'd do more than once. Maybe people with a deep love for grilling for friends and family will feel differently.
The service was average to poor. Although very friendly, sauces that come with grilled dishes were forgotten on both visits. The waiters would disappear for long stretches, and it was always hard to get the check at the end.
A lot was invested in this restaurant's design and concept, but most of the food just didn't do it for me. After three visits, I didn't feel the love.
There were too many disappointing dishes and the grilling just wasn't so thrilling.
Prague 1 - Old Town
tel. (+420 222 315 148)