"Virtue is more clearly shown in the performance of fine actions than in the non-performance of base ones." AristotleI used to play in an amateur rock band. From time to time, I'd play at big parties or small clubs. I was comfortable in front of an audience. Sometimes too comfortable. It was easy to fall into patterns and routines, to lose focus.
But if I knew there was a serious musician in the audience, I'd take it to another level.
I had a similar feeling when I struck up a friendship with Adam, an LA movie producer who lived in Prague for the past six months. He's a world traveler with a sophisticated and discerning palate. The man knows his food and drink.
When we started having regular dinners, I realized it's time to see how well Prague restaurants, based on my recommendations, played to a knowledgeable and discriminating audience. The set list of eateries was up to me.
I wanted to share the city's best and some gems off the beaten track. We hit Osteria da Clara, La Bottega di Finestra, SaSaZu, Chagall's Club, La Gastronomia, and even Letna beer garden.
Without me, Adam found Sansho, Ichnusa, La Finestra, La Degustation and many others. One day, as I was searching my mind for a place worthy of sharing, I walked up Korunni in Vinohrady and saw Ola Kala Bistro.
menu looked good, but it felt like a gamble, without much word of mouth to go on. It is connected to a cooking school of the same name, which I considered a positive. We decided to take a chance and give it a try.
The dining room is filled with light, cream-colored fabrics and wood, with brick walls adding some contrast.
Our waiter brought a bread basket with softened, salted butter.
We ordered a bottle of red wine, the 2008 Côtes de Bourg from Château de Croûte (779 CZK).
We both received an amuse bouche. The chef was thoughtful because Adam had informed the waiter that he did not eat pork, so his was different than mine.
I had a lightly cooked zucchini slice rolled up with bacon cream, which was salty but a decent way to wake up the taste buds.
For a starter, Adam had the duck parfait (168 CZK).
Underneath the cool layer of white fat, there was smooth, rich, fatty duck liver pâté.
I had the monkfish starter (320 CZK), which was a special.
The dish came with mango-coconut sauce. It was sweet, but neither flavor in the sauce really stood out. The chili "gel," which I liked, tasted quite similar to the red pepper and garlic relish, ajvar. Overall, I thought the dish was overpriced and underflavored.
For a main course, Adam had the flap steak (397 CZK). The very tender cut (by Prague standards) was cooked rare and was one of the best steaks I've had in a while.
However, it came with a delicious red wine "gravy," something of a demi-glace, that added a savory richness. Adam particularly enjoyed the lightly-cooked red onions. The potatoes were competently cooked, but also fairly flavorless. The little celery-Zucchini "salad" on the side had too much mayo.
I had the veal cheeks in a red wine sauce (357 CZK). This I loved.
For dessert, I had the 64% Manjari chocolate "mousse" (165 CZK).
He was more impressed by his dessert, the chocolate fondant (165 CZK).
The meal ended with even more chocolate -- creamy, intense handmade truffles.
The service was friendly and smiling, but not always well-informed. The bill came to 2551 CZK without tip. It would have been closer to 2000 CZK without the bottle of wine.
While not perfect, there were plenty of hits, and we both felt pleased with our choice of Ola Kala Bistro. I'd compare it favorably with restaurants I've enjoyed in Prague's historic center like Kalina and Chagall's Club.
I'd recommend you stop in for a performance.
Ola Kala Bistro
Prague 2 - Vinohrady
Tel. (+420) 222 540 400