Thursday, September 20, 2007

Zlatý Klas

"A legend is an old man with a cane known for what he used to do."

-Miles Davis
A good friend -- to some, a legendary veteran of the 1990s Prague scene -- called for a special gathering on a recent Friday night.

The occasion: His wife and kid would be out of town.

A rare event, indeed. Turnout was high.

The initial meeting took place at Zlatý Klas (The Golden Shaft of Wheat), a Czech restaurant owned by Pilsner Urquell, in Prague 5's Smichov-Anděl neighborhood. It was to be the beginning of a long night on the town.

I rarely choose Czech restaurants myself, and this is a part of town I don't get to often, but I'd heard good things about the place.Zlatý Klas is a tank pub (tankovna), meaning that the beer is fresh from the brewery and kept in large tanks on the premises.The original restaurant used to be a short distance away. But it moved to its new and larger home about a year and a half ago.The place was designed to look like it has been around for a while. The walls are mostly brick, with a worn patina to give a feeling of age.

Lots of odds and ends hang on the walls, like oars and croquet mallets. But there are also modern touches like flatscreen televisions showing sporting events. I found our big table near the bar. It's a very busy spot. A lot of pouring going on there.The big place was almost full that Friday. But our waiter was quite quick with the beer orders. Soon enough, I found myself with a nice cold one.It was so fine. It went down quickly and easily. I actually smiled. I've really come to love the sharp, bitter flavor of Pilsner Urquell. A half liter is 31 CZK.

For dinner, I got smoked pork with red and white sour cabbage and dumplings (Špekové knedlíky s uzeným masem, zelím a cibulkou) for 155 CZK.The sliced, pink pork was nice and tender. It had fried onions on top. The warm, sour cabbage (zeli or sauerkraut) was the best I have had in a very long time. The white cabbage was actually almost brown, and very nicely seasoned and nicely sour. The red version was only just a little sweeter.

A couple of other people said they wished they'd ordered the same thing. The general consensus on the other dishes was that they were just OK.

M got the goulash (Plzeňský gulášek, houskový knedlík a bramboráčky) for 155 CZK.It had raw onions on top. On the side were decent, fluffy dumplings, and a some small potato pancakes. It was declared to be "average, norhing special."

Another guy got the breaded fried chicken steak (Smažený kuřecí řízek) for 129 CZK.I asked him how it was. He said it was a decent version, but it is pretty hard to make this dish special in any way.

There was a pork steak with pepper sauce for 119 CZK (Vepřový steak s pfeffer sosem).Again, a respectable version, not dry at all, but nothing to write home about.

There was one more dish, but can't find it on the online menu. I believe the dish was pork inside fried potato pancake batter with grated cheese on top.It looked pretty good, if on the heavy side, but I didn't taste it myself.

Service was efficient. Drinks and food came fast all evening, and we were there for quite a while. There were no complaints.

Given a choice, I'd pick Zlatý Klas over Bredovský dvůr for Czech food and fresh Pilsner Urquell.

By the end of the meal, we were all feeling pretty good. We enjoyed the quality of the beer as well as a great quantity. We had shots of Becherovka and vodka for dessert.

But things were just getting started. The night was still young.

Nobody was wobbling too badly at this point. That would come later.

In fact, by the end of the evening, I must report that walking unassisted on the cobblestone streets of Prague was something of a challenge for my good friend.

Perhaps I'll get him cane for his birthday.

Zlatý Klas
Palác Křižík - Anděl
Plzeňská 9
Prague 5

Tel. (+420) 251 562 539

If you want to read more about Zlatý Klas, The Czech Business Weekly just did its own review. You can read it here.

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