Monday, August 20, 2007

Taverna Olympos

"And what, Socrates, is the food of the soul? Surely, I said, knowledge is the food of the soul."
So, knowledge about Greek food must be super good for the soul.

One of the best places I've found in Prague for a Greek meal in Prague is Taverna Olympos. It is just a few stops on the metro from the city center in the Žižkov neighborhood.

A big attraction during the summer months is the huge garden for dining in the back. Some of the tables are under a roof, while others are under some big, leafy trees.

There's a decent play area with swings and a slide for children. They were under heavy use. The slide looked steep. There was also a large, even younger contingent. The baby buggies were bumper to bumper.

The garden is very popular with a somewhat older crowd, too. In fact, on a Friday afternoon, we tried to book a table there for later in the evening and were told it was not possible. It wasn't completely full a Saturday, although the weather wasn't as nice.

Sitting near us, A British gentlemen dining with a lady expounded upon his fondness for Taverna Olympos. He loudly explained to the lady and, through the luck of the draw, to us, that the restaurant is more of a local favorite and not full of tourists.

Expatriates now fall into the "local" category in Prague. I counted more than a few, though many were cross-pollinating Czexpat* families.

We started our meal with a round of cold starters. We got the eggplant spread for 80 CZK. It was very good, with a light vinegar sourness, along with a hint of smoke.There was a little bit of feta cheese and red pepper mixed in. Chopped parsley was sprinkled on top.

We also ordered the taramas, also known as taramosalata, for 80 CZK. This was not bad, but not good. It was nicely smooth and sour, especially with the accompanying lemon squeezed on top.Even though the taramas had a nice pink hue, neither of us could detect any fish egg flavor. V loves to be reminded of the sea, and there were no little reminders here. She said she had taramas from a supermarket in Normandy during a recent trip and liked it more.

Pita bread to go with these starters was an extra 30 CZK. It is hard to imagine a Greek meal without pita, but this was money well spent. The bread was wonderfully fresh and warm from the grill, sprinkled with herbs.Speaking of the grill, for a main course, I got the mixed souvlaki for 180 CZK. There was chicken, pork, and beef cooked over a flame on wooden skewers. The beef was delicious, the chicken was perfectly cooked, and not dry at all.

I enjoyed them all, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be the pork. Smoky, tender, and juicy. They should be eaten as quickly as possible. They do dry out as they get cold.Like many dishes, the souvlaki comes with only token salads on the side and a small amount of tzatziki.

So, I ordered a side of fries for 40 CZK. These are a very Greek version -- not crisp, a bit greasy (pun not intended), with feta cheese broken up on top. It was better than it sounds. The potatoes had good flavor. Do not ask for ketchup.

V ordered the lamb skewer for 240 CZK. We are both big fans of lamb. We thought this version was OK, but not as nice as the souvlaki.The difference was that we didn't think the lamb was flame-grilled. It didn't have the same smoky taste. It was also a little on the dry side.

We had good service in the busy garden and thought our waiter knew what he was doing. He knew the menu very well. During the meal, however, our British neighbor began complain to his lady that the waiter did not know the wine list at all.

When the waiter returned to talk to the man, he got a little lesson. All I heard was "Grapes! Grapes! Grapes!"

I avoided such complications and stuck to beer, as usual. First, I ordered a .4 liter glass of Staropramen Granat for 30 CZK. This was not good. The pipes needed a cleaning. There was a strong metallic taste.

For a second round, I had a glass of Platan, a beer brewed in the southern Bohemian town of Protivín, for 30 CZK. I liked it much better than the Staropramen. V drank a .25 liter carafe of Rotonda white wine, which goes for 80 CZK.

One authentic touch at Taverna Olympos is the manager's "office." His very business-like desk is right in the middle of the service area, next to the pass-through for the plates from the kitchen. This part of the restaurant looks exactly like a favorite spot of ours in Samos. But it could be anywhere in Greece.The restaurant also has a reasonable amount of indoor seating for when the weather turns cold. It was pretty empty inside when we were there.

Greek-themed art is painted directly on the walls. The furniture does not look all that comfortable or particularly Greek. The paper table coverings with the blue print helps.I had only been to Taverna Olympos once before, and that was years ago. I liked it then, but for some reason, it fell off my mental check list.

The menu itself is quite a large document. So. if anyone knows a dish that is particularly good at this particular restaurant, feel free to share the knowledge.

We could all use a little more soul food.

Taverna Olympos
Kubelíkova 9
Prague 3

Tel. (+420) 222 722 239

*I'd like to claim I coined this term today, but there is one Google hit for "Czexpat" and one for "Czexpats." "Czechpats" is apparently a golf tour company.


Anonymous said...

The stifado is great. So are the fried aubergine and courgette mezze.

Julia said...

I'm a fan of the cheese stuffed spicey peppers. It's hard to go wrong with their starters (taramas aside).

Pip Hines said...

Recommend the kleftiko: meat and potatoes in a brown paper bag with the aroma of your grandma's cooking.
Octopus was tender and smoky, but just one tentacle, like a large grilled forefinger.
The retsina goes perfectly with everything.

Anonymous said...

try the papoutsaki and the squid in wine.

Unknown said...

Very delicious article! Nice pictures!
When I was in Prague I liked that food which was very tasty and not expensive! Most of all I liked traditional Czech meals- garlic soup, bouillon with vermicelli, roasted sirloin beef in sour cream sauce with dumplings!
Nevertheless Prague accommodation was quite cheap, the service was on a high level!
Cheap excursions were very informative and educative!