Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fantova kavárna

“The traveller's-eye view of men and women is not satisfying. A man might spend his life in trains and restaurants and know nothing of humanity at the end. To know, one must be an actor as well as a spectator.”

- Aldous Huxley

In Prague's main railway station, Praha hlavní nádraží, the options for quality dining and refreshment are just about zero. As for style, don't look for it in the main passenger terminal. It is represents the height, or perhaps the depth, of 70s communist design.If you are waiting for a train and want to escape all that ugliness, there is one small, fading respite. Find the hard-to-find stairs and go up to Fantova kavárna -- Fanta's Cafe.

It is a small place, with tables around a hole looking down into the lower passage to the train platforms. You can get coffee, cake, or a beer here, although I never have.The attraction is that it sits in the preserved Art Nouveau entrance hall of the station. I use the term preserved loosely. Very loosely. This gorgeous, artistic building is falling apart. But it still has a great amount of beauty. A big renovation of the station is in the works.The cafe gets its name from the architect of the train station, Josef Fanta. It was finished in 1909. Now, its doors face a big highway that was built right in front of the station in the 1970s.Perhaps there's one other thing you should know about the place. It is a well-known rent boy cruising spot -- there have been a number of newspaper articles, television reports, and even a documentary about what goes on inside the train station.

I didn't see anything like that when I was there. Then again, I was looking up a lot. It's all very nice to look at, but at Fantova kavárna, I'd ignore Huxley's advice. Fantova kavárna
Praha hlavní nádraží
Wilsonova 80
Prague 1

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Fuzion Cafe (Closed)

**NOTE: This cafe closed down in April 2008. Another one bites the dust.

"It’s déjà vu all over again."
- Attributed to Yogi Berra

That’s right, I’m talking about sandwiches. Again.

I’d been to Fuzion, near Wenceslas Square for a sandwich once before. I wasn’t too impressed.

A reader told me to give it another chance. I thought maybe I’d go back. Then V told me to give it another chance.

Definitely had to go back.

Fuzion is a well furnished and modern looking coffee shop right by the tram stop on Vodičkova. It is a fairly busy area, with a lot of foot traffic.

They seem to do a decent business, but in the three times I’ve visited, I haven’t seen crowds lining up for espressos or cappuccinos. I've usually seen just a handfull of people there.A large espresso is 30 CZK. A large cappuccino or a latte is 50 CZK or 40 CZK for a regular. Fuzion has a variety of teas for 30 CZK. They generally charge about 5 CZK less for take out.

But I have to confess, I’m usually not a coffee drinker. So, I’ll get back to the sandwiches.

At someone’s suggestion, I got the warm ham and cheese croissant. It comes with a choice of a hot drink for 70 CZK. I wasn’t really in the mood for a hot drink, and asked if I could get the croissant alone.
I was told it was a package deal, so I ordered a hot chocolate. They do have a cold ham and cheese croissant with extras like tomatoes on it in the refrigerator case.

The warm and buttery croissant was small. It had been under a heat lamp for a fair amount of time and suffered a little, but it was still pretty tasty. It was good cheese, and decent, but salty ham. It was about four bites.

The hot chocolate was good, a hot milk and cocoa powder version, served in a large cup and topped with whipped cream. It was not extra thick, but not thin either.

Another suggestion was that I try the panini with “pastrami” and jalapeno for 75 CZK. On the Czech version of the menu online, the pastrami is called “smoked meat” (uzené maso). It is one slice of something like ham. I wouldn’t have minded more meat. The bread is nicely grilled – warm and crunchy.

When you open up the sandwich, you can see that they are very generous with the pickled jalapenos.

This sandwich is not for the faint of heart. It is very spicy. I’d probably only get it again if I get a jalapeno craving, which happens with me from time to time.

I decided to take another sandwich with me for later. I got the roast chicken salad baguette. It has lettuce, tomato onion, and garlic/mayo dressing. I wasn’t too impressed.

The roast chicken slices were very bland. I tried a bite of the meat by itself – almost no flavor there. The baguette still retained a little crunch and freshness, but it went a bit stale in the refrigerator case. Maybe the best thing here was the red onion mixed with the mayo.

Overall, the chicken baguette was similar in quality to the bacon, lettuce, and tomato baguette I’d had on an earlier visit.I probably wouldn’t get it again unless I was in a hurry and hungry. If I want a baguette, I’ll probably go for the warm ones up the street at Boulevard Bageterie.

V highly recommended the vegetarian wrap with vegetables, goat cheese, and dressing. I really wanted to try it, but didn’t see it in the sandwich display case. I asked someone who worked there if they had any, but the woman didn’t seem to know what I was talking about.

There is a sign, though, that says they can make any sandwich that is not pre-prepared within five minutes. There are also a number of salad options on the menu.

Fuzion has a few small tables downstairs on street level. But they also have a nice space with nice furniture one floor up. They do offer Wi-Fi so it would be a decent place to hang out, surf the net, and have coffee and snacks. There aren’t a lot of places like this around Wenceslas Square.

Also of interest is that they offer online ordering through their website and delivery within one kilometer of the shop for 50 CZK.

I’m still waiting to see if the Starbucks-style model will catch on in Prague. There are other chains in town like Coffee Heaven, and they seem to be doing OK, but I don’t see Starbucks-sized crowds there, either.

As of this writing, Starbucks announced it is coming to Prague, but it is not here yet.

These places may catch on, but as Mr. Berra is reported to have said, “It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Vodičkova 38
Prague 1

Tel. (+420) 224 215 156
Hours: Mon-Fri 7 am - 8 pm, Sat-Sun 8 am - 5 pm

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Letenský zámeček

"Summertime and the livin' is easy."
- George Gershwin (1935)

It was only early spring, but it sure felt like summertime in Prague last weekend. And the return of warm weather means the long-awaited return of dining alfresco.

One of the most popular spots in the city for eating and drinking outdoors is Letenský zámeček (Letna’s manor house or mansion). You’ll find me, my friends, and hundreds of others there on a regular basis during the season.

It is the kind of place that offers something for almost everyone. There’s the fancy and expensive Restaurant Belcredi in the zámeček. There are often wedding and corporate parties there. I've never tried it myself.

Just a few meters away, there’s a window where people line up to get half liters of Gambrinus beer for 25 CZK in a plastic cup.Hundreds of people go for this economical option. There is plenty of grass to lie out on nearby during the day.

And day or night, mostly young people fill free tables and benches under the trees. You may smell grass of a different sort in this area. And it is the cheap seats that have one of the best views of the city of Prague, lying below the Letna Plain. And that is also free.

On the ground level of the zámeček, there is Restaurant Ullmann. It also has a few tables outside in front. It has a reasonably wide menu with main courses like chicken with tomatoes mozzarella, and pesto for 200 CZK, turkey breast stuffed with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, veal steak with Marsala for 345 CZK, or deer steak with wine sauce for 370 CZK.

Right next to the outdoor tables of Restaurant Ullmann is the option my friends and I prefer. According the website, this is called the Garden Restaurant.

I call it my summer home.

It is for people who want to sit outside, drink, eat simple food like pizza and grilled meat, and don’t want to spend a relative fortune. You’ll see a cool, young crowd here, a lot of upwardly mobile Czechs, and you’ll also hear plenty of English coming from the teak tables.

This area is almost always full in good weather, but we’ve rarely had to wait more than a few minutes for a table to open up.

I counted up the chairs on my last visit. It came to at least 200, so there’s usually a table opening up if you look around.

V and I took a blanket to park (Letenské sady) and lay around for a while reading and drinking those beers from the plastic cups.

The beer line can be long, but it moves pretty quickly, and we usually got to the window in between five and 10 minutes. In summer, they often serve beer from another tap set up on the opposite side of the zámeček.

Around dinnertime, we wandered over to the garden restaurant and found a table. Usually, when I’m with my friends, I almost always order the quattro stagioni pizza with mushrooms, olives, artichokes, and ham. This year it costs 145 CZK for a 30 centimeter pie. It goes well with the beer.

The quality varies from year to year. Last year’s pizzas were pretty good, but no one liked them much the year before. It is also worth pointing out that the online menu appears to be from last year. A number of items are out of dates and/or have been changed.

They now offer a new picante pizza with pepperoni and spicy peppers for 130 CZK. Last year, the quattro stagioni pizza was 135 CZK. A lot of the prices are about 10 CZK higher than stated online. Either way, at peak times, you could wait up to an hour for a pizza.

On this first visit of the year, I decided to try one of the new grilled items: beef and pork tenderloin skewer with red onion, green pepper, and spicy red chili.

There were some grilled vegetables on the side. It is one of the most expensive items on the menu at 220 CZK.

I’d have to say it was only OK and not really worth the money. The meat had hardly any grilled flavor and needed salt. I won't get it again.

The beef was on the dry side. The pork was a bit better, but only because it was wrapped in bacon. The grilled vegetables, zucchini, onion, and green pepper were probably the best part.

I also ordered a side of grilled potatoes for 35 CZK. They were on the dry side, but nice and hot. Not bad, and better than last year's potatoes.

Be aware that if you want extra ketchup, they bring it in packets and charge something like 15 CZK each for them.

V got the spicy grilled chicken thighs, which is a better option at 120 CZK. I thought they tasted pretty good, especially compared with what I ordered. Thighs are often better than breasts at retaining flavor and not drying out.

V said it was OK, but she thought the portion was a bit small. She got a full side order of grilled vegetables on the side for 65 CZK. We both like that.

The service was really good on this night. We had a very friendly and efficient waiter. But it is still early in the season. In the past, service has bounced between surly and nonexistant. I have to say, though, that we had a nagging suspicion that we were overcharged. The handwritten bill was illegible. On such a nice evening, we didn't feel like going back through it with the guy so we let it go.

There are a few other things on the menu like salmon with lime for 190 CZK, chicken breast for 130 CZK, chili for 135 CZK, a burrito for 125 CZK (it didn’t look too good last year), and a Balkan cheese salad for 130 CZK.

As for the beer, they charge 26 CZK for a half liter of Gambrinus. If you order the stronger Pilsner Urquell, it comes only in a .4 liter glass and costs 30 CZK. A .2 liter glass of Müller-Thurgau is 56 CZK. A lot of wines they sell are only 210 CZK for full bottles.

There are a few simple desserts like tiramisu or honey cake (medovnik) for 65 CZK. I’m a big medovnik fan. It’s worth a try if you haven’t had it. There is also apple strudel for 55 CZK.

Letna is a huge park, so Letenský zámeček is not exactly the easiest place to find if you don’t know where it is. It is not near any metro station and a 10-minute walk from the nearest tram stop.

Maybe the easiest way to explain it is that is it across the street from the National Technical Museum (Národní technické museum), which is closed for reconstruction. That address is Kostelní 42.

See you there.

Restaurace Letenský zámeček
Letenské sady 341
Prague 7
Tel. (+420) 233 378 200

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hergetova Cihelna

It's not what you know, it's who you know. And I happen to know the author of "Grant's Prague Bike Blog." It's a small world for bloggers in Prague.

Grant writes and posts photos about the many challenges, adventures, and beers he's had while taking his life in his hands and cycling around this great city and beyond.

But he's not just all about the bike. This is a guy who likes to eat out, gets excited about new restaurants, and knows how to tell a story. Unlike me, he's actually been paid to write restaurant reviews. In an actual newspaper.

So, I offered him the opportunity of a lifetime: To be the first guest poster to appear on Czech Please.

Without further ado, Grant takes it from here:

I'm a regular reader of Czech Please, and an unexpected visit to one of Prague's finer restaurants last weekend got me to thinking about Brewsta's recent posts about the best hamburger in Prague.

And then I stopped thinking and started eating.

And now it's time to start writing something about what I was eating and thinking.

I've tried the hamburgers at TGI Friday's, at Jama, at Mozaika and Potrafena Husa. Haven't tried Fraktal's yet.

And I agree with Brewsta that PH's burger is both delicious and also way too expensive, at 297 crowns. But sometimes you just need a burger, a good burger, an authentic American burger, and you just have to say, "Check, please!" and get on with it.

I've splurged quite a few times on the PH burger, I must admit. Plus, the fries are very, very good, too.

My girlfriend, Daisy, and I had dinner the other night at Hergetova Cihelna in Malá Strana. In addition to a cool interior design, attentive service, and an eclectic menu, Hergetova Cihelna boasts what is arguably the city's best restaurant terrace, right along the Vltava, with an unbelievable view of Charles Bridge and the Old Town's spires and domes.

I think the view is better at Hergetova Cihelna than at the ritzier-and far-more-expensive Kampa Park, right next door, because it affords diners a less-restricted perspective on the bridge and the city.

And the evening we were there, the weather was stunning.

I've had the burger at Hergetova Cihelna before and liked it very much. But it had been awhile since I'd been back. I ordered it again. In fact, we both ordered it. Medium. With a bottle of South African Nederburg cabernet sauvignon (700 CZK).

And I think I can now make a pretty good argument that Hergetova Cihelna has the city's best hamburger, all things considered. That is, taking everything -- flavor, price, portion size, fries, accompaniments, and atmosphere -- into consideration.

The Cihelna burger is 295 crowns.*** That's two crowns cheaper than at Potrafena Husa. That's still one expensive hamburger and fries, but the price says more about Potrafena Husa than it does about Hergetova Cihelna.

Potrafena has a lot of nerve charging more than Hergetova for a simple hamburger. At Hergetova, you're dining in stylish surroundings and rubbernecking to see what celeb might be at the next table.

Plus, you get That View. That View is worth at least 100 crowns per burger, in my book.

I'd say the Cihelna burger itself is as good or better than the one at PH. The huge slab of quality ground beef is served under a warm blanket of four wide slices of bacon. The burger was perfectly cooked and had a nicely charred flavor. The burgers at HC are served with a small basket of crispy fries, and an array of condiments -- pickles, tomatoes, mayonnaise, ketchup, onions, lettuce, and cole slaw. The only quibble? The tomatoes are diced.

I think the Cihelna burger is also much easier to eat, physically, than the PH burger. I always find myself giving up and resorting to knife and fork about halfway through the PH burger. It's just too big, even for my mouth, and everything starts squirting out the back. The HC burger and bun have a lower profile, without sacrificing any substance.

As for Kogo at Slovansky Dum, I agree with Brewsta. I, too, think it's probably the best all-around dining experience in Prague -- when you consider food, prices, service, atmosphere, and that ineffable quality that makes you just happy to be there.

But now that it's fresh in my memory, I'd say Hergetova Cihelna runs a close second. Prices for entrees start at a very reasonable 225 crowns for the spaghetti with mussels. A half-liter of Pilsner Urquell will set you back 65 crowns, compared with 55 crowns for a .33 glass of Budvar at Kogo.

And unlike Kogo, it's got That View.

*** The Cihelna Burger now acutally costs a whopping 395 CZK.

You can read my review of the burger and restaurant here.

Hergetova Cihelna
Cihelná 2b
Prague 1, Mala Straná
Tel. (+420) 296 826 103

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Zahrada v Opeře

*** This restaurant has closed. In its place is the new beef and beer restaurant, Čestr. (click for review)

GROUCHO: It's all right. That's, that's in every contract. That's, that's what they call a sanity clause.

CHICO: Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! You can't fool me. There ain't no Sanity Clause!

- A Night at the Opera, (1935)

Ah, a night at the opera. Always good fun. But where to eat before a performance in Prague?

The best choice, as far as I am concerned, is Zahrada v Opeře (Garden in the Opera). I'd been there many times before, and always enjoyed it. After a year-long break, I went there for dinner. If anything, I like it even more. And I most definitely wouldn't limit visits to opera nights.

This restaurant has been going for years. I've always wondered about the secret to its long-term survival, given its location at the top of Wenceslas Square, hidden behind security barriers.

The somewhat obscure location may hurt business, but, ironically, the location must also be a big factor in its ongoing survival. It is right behind the State Opera, so it probably gets a steady stream of pre-performance customers.

Location is important, but there are other factors to consider. There is the modern and artistic design of the restaurant's interior. It's a bit wild. A lot of creative attention (and money) went into it. I like it. There's nothing else quite like it in Prague.

And then, of course, there's the food. I've had some of the same dishes over the course of a few years, and they have been consistently prepared and consistently good.

We started out with the salad bar. But this isn't any ordinary salad bar. It offers five different options of pre-prepared salads. There is couscous, grilled vegetables, cold penne and sun-dried tomato, grilled beef and endive, and marinated salmon salads.

The grilled beef salad was the best, with a wonderful smoky taste. I also really liked the salmon and the grilled vegetables. The other two options were fine, but a little bland. One of the most amazing things about this salad bar is the price.

You can fill a large plate with as much as you want for 150 CZK. It could be a meal in itself and, as far as I am concerned, it is a terrific bargain at that price. A small plate of the same salads can be filled for 80 CZK.

For main courses, V and I both got our favorite dish from the "Bestsellers" section of the menu: Nasi goreng (285 CZK).

It is Indonesian-style fried rice with chicken, calamari, a couple of plump tiger shrimp, garlic paste, and chopped red chilies on the side. The menu doesn't mention it, but the dish also has finely-minced lime leaves and the strong distinct flavor dominates the dish. Which is just fine with me because I absolutely love the flavor of lime leaf. I like mixing in all the red chilies. It still doesn't get too hot for my taste. One small issue -- it could come out warmer -- temperature-wise.

Mom was with us. She also got one of the "Bestsellers," the lamb fillets with garlic-shallot sauce, spinach, and roasted La Ratte potatoes (530 CZK). A whole head of roasted garlic is on the side.

I've had this before and like it very much. The lamb is tender. The spinach is fresh. The sauce is nice. I actually wish the lamb they used had more of a "lamby" flavor.

I haven't tried them myself, but many of the other main dishes seem reasonably prices. There are choices like Brazilian sirloin for 380 CZK, duck breast for 380 CZK, roasted chicken breast for 220 CZK, venison for 440 CZK, scampi for 395 CZK and yellowtail snapper for 380 CZK.

And this is not the full list. You can see the full menu online here, but I should warn you -- once you reach the website, it will not allow you to back out of it to the site you came from.

They have a Pilsner Urquell on draft. A half liter is 45 CZK. V had a small glass of Bohemia sekt sparkling wine for 60 CZK and a glass of domestic Moravian white wine for 45 CZK. A bottle of Mattoni mineral water was 40 CZK.

Czech wines are all reasonably priced, with many in the 400 CZK range. There is a selection of French, Spanish, Italian, Chilean, Australian, Californian, and South African wines. There's not much depth to the list, but the prices don't get too crazy either -- most are between 500 CZK and 1000 CZK.

The total bill for the three salads, drinks, and three main courses, was 1840 CZK. I thought the dinner was well worth the price.

We were all very full, so none of tried the desserts. It's a shame, because they are not the usual fare. The dessert menu is as creative as the decor at Zahrada v Opeře.

Some of the options sounded very tempting: Camembert with fresh figs, almonds and honey for 125 CZK, Greek yogurt with figs, strawberry, and honey for 95 CZK, and something called San Domingue. The menu says it is a 70-percent chocolate and honey mousse with rum-marinated apricots and cane sugar. It costs 125 CZK.

It was really hard to turn down a chance to try one of these creations. I'm crazy about desserts, and these sound insanely good.

So, it's a good thing there ain't no Sanity Clause.

Zahrada v Opeře
Legerova 75
Prague 1

Hours 11:30 am –1 am
Tel. (+420) 224 239 685

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Fraktal Bar Restaurace

"I'd gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”
- J. Wellington Wimpy, 1934
Like Popeye's friend, Wimpy, I love a good hamburger. So, I was just rather pleased when I got a Monday evening invitation to meet friends at Fraktal.

At long last, I was going to get my first Fraktal Burger. I’d heard stories. It was good, they said. But I’d never had one. I needed to know.

I’d been to Fraktal before, always at the invitation of G, and always for breakfast with a group of friends. I’m in love with their breakfast enchilada, but that’s a story for another day.

On this particular day, the weather was warm, and G and a few friends had scored one the restaurant’s few outdoor tables.

You are almost guaranteed to hear English spoken at one of these tables. This place is an expat favorite.

The restaurant itself is a large, compartmentalized basement space. It is pretty dark and cave-like. I've heard it can fill up with smoke at night when the hard drinking gets done. Maybe its better that way -- on a Sunday morning inside, you can still smell a lot of old, spilled beer.

Outside seating is much preferred on a nice day.

Anyway, I arrived late, after everyone else had eaten. The waitress was gathering up some plates as I sat down. Without looking at the menu, I ordered a large Fraktal burger and a beer. The Gambrinus is 27 CZK for a half liter. The Pilsner Urquell is 32 CZK.

The burger arrived pretty quickly. It comes with lettuce, red onion, tomatoes, sliced sweet pickles, a mayo-based sauce, and a side of fries and mustard. A bottle of Heinz ketchup was brought along with it.
Small criticisms here: the tomatoes are sliced into quarters, which is not exactly the best shape if you want to throw them on the burger. The fries are large and good, but needed a little salt.

The meat sits atop a sturdy poppy and sesame seed roll. Taking the top off, you'll see generous amounts of bacon and cheese. The burger patty itself is thick, round, and nicely charred on the outside.

I think it is worthwhile to compare this hamburger to the one that I posted about recently at Potrefená Husa on Vinohradská (in the photo on the right).

The PH Burger has better bacon -- freshly cooked and tender. The Fraktal bacon was also hot, but a little harder to chew.

The PH Burger condiments are better organized and fit better under the bun. Its bun is also a little higher quality, and nicely toasted.

The best part of the PH burger is that it has such a strong, char-grilled flavor. The Fraktal Burger, despite its charred exterior, doesn't match that.

Sounds like no contest?

Not so fast.

The ground beef used at Potrefená Husa is very high quality, low fat beef. Ironically, this quality actually hurts the burger. I think hamburger meat needs to be a little fatty. The PH Burger can actually be on the dry side after cooking. Fraktal's burger was much more juicy and the meat had a better texture after cooking.

Fraktal also offers a variety of different burgers on their menu. They do burgers topped with goat cheese and pistachio nuts, sauteed mushrooms and onions, or tzatziki, black olives, and feta cheese. I don't know if I'd go for any of those, but a friend said they do have great goat cheese.

Price is a big difference between the two, and I think it is a big issue. At Fraktal, you pay 195 CZK for the large 200-gram Fraktal Burger. The smaller 125-gram burger is 170 CZK.

There is just a large burger option at Potrefená Husa, and it costs an astounding 297 CZK. That's about the same price that they charge for their South American rib eye steak.

So, which one is better?

Well, if I'm eating the hamburger on Monday, and they insist I pay for it the same day, I'll gladly go with the Fraktal Burger.

Fraktal Bar Restaurace
Šmeralova 1
Prague 7 (near Letna Park)
Tel. (+420) 777 794 094
E-mail: You can read a later post on Fraktal's weekend brunch here.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Café Savoy

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast."
- Oscar Wilde

That'd be me. A morning person.

V is not a morning person. She thinks Oscar Wilde was brilliant.

OK, maybe I'm dull, but I'm smart enough to know that if I want to eat breakfast with this woman, it's going to be a late one. Like 1:15 pm.

Such are the compromises of life.

I called ahead and booked a table at Café Savoy in Malá Strana. This is my favorite café for breakfast in a city not known for its breakfasts. I reserved because the restaurant has gotten very popular, especially on weekends. The last time we turned up unannounced, we were turned away.

This is a fine-looking space, with wine bottles lining the walls in squares of blond wood. They understand good lighting.

A photo of these bottles featured prominently in a recent The New York Times travel article about Prague.

The restaurant has a beautifully restored and brightly painted ceiling framing some unique chandeliers with egg-shaped bulbs. Tall windows let in a lot of light. I'd like to know more about the history of the building.

There are some good breakfasts on the menu at Café Savoy. I used to go for the ham and cheese omelet (129 CZK). It's made with Emmental cheese, but what makes it great is the ham -- big chunks of real, quality, smoky Prague ham.

These days, I get the American Breakfast (233 CZK). It's not cheap, but this a serious amount of food. The waiter brought it out in two rounds.

The first round consisted of fresh-squeezed orange juice, hot chocolate (or coffee or tea), and a bread basket. There was butter, along with homemade jams, and homemade peanut butter. These were all really good. There was also what they call a "praline," a good quality chocolate treat.

The breakfast also comes with seeded red and green seedless grapes, but for some reason, I didn't fit them into the picture.

The hot chocolate is brought in its own little pitcher. A couple of servings fit into the small cup. It is made with real milk and good quality cocoa. If you buy it separately, the Chocolate Savoy is 55 CZK for a single serving, or 75 CZK for a double.

Later, the waiter came with the sandwich when it was ready. It is hand-sliced white toast, with runny fried eggs, a fresh-cooked chicken breast, salty soft bacon, and fries on the side.

The bread was breaking up a bit before I even picked it up. It is a messy thing to eat, but even so, it was a great sandwich. Love it. I like putting a little ketchup on the side for the fries, and dabbing the sandwich in it as well. The fries were OK, but not great -- they could be crunchier. They did help clean up some of the leftover egg yolk at the end.

Speaking of egg yolks, we had Mom with us, and she ordered the Continental Breakfast. It comes with toast, cheese, egg, home made bread, butter, homemade jam, and tea (or coffee or hot chocolate).

I heard her say "over easy," but it in the swirl of ordering, it didn't catch in my mind as something the waiter would not understand. So, she got an egg sunny side up. Mom also said it was not hot. She wasn't happy, but decided to eat it anyway instead of sending it back.

For big eaters, they also offer what they call the French Breakfast. It consists of a French baguette, French toast with maple syrup, grilled marguezi (sausage) with French fries, Prague ham, a boiled egg, French blue cheese, butter, homemade jam, a croissant, grapes, fresh orange juice, and café au lait. It is a ton of food. I used to get it before I switched to the American Breakfast.

The English Breakfast is, according to the menu, toast, a fried egg, roasted bacon, a frankfurter and tomatoes, beans, homemade bread, butter, homemade jam, fresh orange juice, and tea with milk.

There are other smaller breakfasts -- the Healthy and the Savoy.

V is not the biggest breakfast person, especially in the afternoon. She started with one of her regular favorites, the escargots (185 CZK). This dish is on a separate "gourmet menu."

She said she liked it "very, very much." She said the snails were "perfect," with generous amounts of butter and garlic. For the toast, the waiter took a few more slices off the loaf. They wear special white gloves when they slice. V dipped a piece in the garlic butter for me. She called the toast "silly," but I liked it.

I just don't think she took all the gloves and slicing into consideration.

V followed the snails with the marinated salmon salad (178 CZK). At most restaurants in Prague, they'd peel the salmon out of its plastic package and slap it on top of the salad.

Not Café Savoy. This is real marinated fish. It was very fresh, with a buttery texture, and only the smallest hint of salt. Underneath was frisée, various other greens, cucumbers, red pepper, radishes, tomatoes, and a little balsamic vinegar.

She also had a good café au lait (65 CZK). And I forgot to mention, she also had a Mimosa (129 CZK). Mattoni sparkling mineral water was 39 CZK.

I wish I had room for dessert. On the special menu is what they call Valrhona Manjari fondue. Valrhona Manjari is extra special, extra bitter dark chocolate. In the past, I've also had a chocolate fondant, one of those warm, fresh-baked cakes with the melting center.

Café Savoy is very busy, but it is well run and the cooking is very good. You can watch some of it being done through a window to kitchen on one side of the restaurant. I love watching kitchens at work.

There is a glass case full of desserts to look at. It is also fun to sit in the upstairs loft section and people watch, far from the madding crowd. Sometimes, sitting in the middle of the regular dining room is not the most fun on a busy day.

The popularity of this café is not a big surprise. The super-successful and expanding Ambiente Restaurants Group owns it. They have a number of other interesting restaurants around the city, like Ambiente on Mánesova, Risorante Pasta Fresca, Pizza Nuova, and Ristorante Brasiliero.

I justiced noticed their website says they've opened a small new place, called Café Pavilon, at Vinohradská 50, inside Vinohradský Pavilon. It seems to have only a limited breakfast menu and a few other light meals. I'm a bit disappointed to see they have the French Breakfast, but not the American.

But I don't just go for their breakfasts. I've enjoyed the beef tartare -- French or Savoy style, roasted Prague ham, goat cheese salad, and fried veal schnitzel with a sweetbread and cranberries.

Those meals have not usually been dull, and that helps me feel better about myself.

Because the Café Savoy people are also brilliant at breakfast.

Café Savoy
Vítězná 5

tel: (+420) 257 311 562
Hours: Mon-Fri. 8:00 - 22:30, Sat-Sun 9:00 - 22:30

You can read about another, later visit to Café Savoy here.

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