Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Favorite Things

Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.

"This is Spinal Tap"

I was in a reflective state of mind today, and I started thinking about my all-time favorite food and drink in Prague. And the thoughts put me in a good mood.

So I thought I'd share.

I wasn't thinking about specific restaurants or bars. Often, it is one specific dish or drink that makes me feel good and makes me return, whether everything else is good or not.

Here are my top ten favorites with just a little bit something extra. This list goes to eleven:

1. Risotto alla pescatora at Kogo at Slovansky Dum.

As someone who craves variety, I am always surprised how much I love this dish and how often I order it. The seafood is always fresh and plentiful. Shellfish galore. There is tomato, wine, and plenty of garlic. I love the leafy parsley thrown in the mix. I always think I'll make myself order something different at this restaurant, but I rarely do.

2. Entrecote at Cafe Savoy.*

The cut of beef is usually good, but not that special. It is not so large. But the demi-glace that comes with it is a rich, smile-inducing treat. The fried string onions on top soak up more of the sauce only add to the feeling of decadence. And I order a side of fries to go with it to clean up any sauce that remains. None ever does.

* Update -- I'm sorry to say that this version of this dish is no longer on the menu. They still do an entrecote, but it is done with herb butter and grilled vegetables. It is nice, but without the demi-glace, it doesn't do it for me anymore.

3. Nasi goreng at Zahrada v opeře (Garden in the Opera).

The Indonesian rice, seafood, and chicken combine into a wonderful melange of flavors. But it is dominated by finely chopped Kaffir lime leaf. This is among my favorite seasonings in the world. It comes with lime wedges for squeezing, so it has a pleasant tartness, and there are chopped, relatively mild red chilies for a little kick. It is up to you how much you want to mix in.

4. Hot chocolate at Cafe Louvre.

The inspiration for this post. The drink is thick, rich, and almost pudding-like. It comes in relatively small cups that always leaving me wanting more. So today, I ordered two at once to go with my club sandwich. I enjoyed the second cup even more than the first.

5. Steak sandwich at Rocky O'Reilly's.

It ain't cheap these days, and I don't want to go when a big game is on TV, but this sandwich is close to perfect for me. They use very good quality steak. It comes on a long, crunchy-toasted, buttered roll. There are fried onions and mushrooms. And no cheese. Some may miss this, but I don't. I sometimes throw a little sweet Soja sauce or ketchup on top.

6. Carolina wings and ribs at Ambiente on Manesova.

These wings are delicious on their own, with crispy-sweet skin. But then you add the fantastic mango chili sauce that comes with them and they go to a whole new level for me. It's sweet and spicy and I love it. I could drink that sauce straight. The ribs have never been dry and the meat is easy to pull from the bone so you can dip it in the sauce. The best ribs in Prague, I'd say. There is an all-you-can-eat option, but I've never gone that far.

7. Bacon cheeseburger at Potrefena Husa on Vinohradska.

Maybe the best burger in Prague. It has a great, smoky-grilled flavor, good bun, and very well constructed. The only failure is that the high-quality beef they use isn't fatty enough and it can be dry, especially because they tend to overcook them. Not cheap, but the place I go when I need some comfort food.

8. Chocolate gelato cone at Cremeria Milano.

An intense chocolate experience. Better than all but a few fancy restaurant desserts I've had in my life. Made with Cream & Dream gelato, which can be found at a number of other places around Prague. I associate it with Cremeria Milano because that's the first place I tried it.

9. Mojito at La Bodeguita del Medio.

This "European" mojito comes in a big glass filled with crushed ice. Sure, this drink has become a cliche and the most-ordered concoction (a bartender told me), but there is a reason. Many bars are often in a hurry to make this work-intensive drink, and La Bodeguita is no exception. But more often than not, they get they combination of lime juice, mint, rum, brown sugar, and soda water just right. I used to sit at the bar and have one while snacking on a goat cheese and spinach salad, but I must admit it's been too crowded for me lately.

10. Complimentary green salad at Hanil.

The sushi is OK, nothing too special, but reasonably priced for Prague. But one of the things I most look forward to at this Japanese/Korean restaurant is the very simple green salad they serve all diners at the start of a meal. It has a soy vinegar dressing that, yes, I did once drink from the bowl when the lettuce was all gone. I love it that much. The waiter told me the secret ingredient, but if you want to know, you have to ask yourself.

11. Brownie at Passion Chocolat.

Actually a soft cookie made with high-quality chocolate, nuts, and candied orange. I eat a few of these every week. Yes, there are three entries on this list that involve chocolate, one of the great loves of my life.

But these are just my tastes. And on a different day, I might make a different list. In fact, I'm sure I would.

So how about you? Crisp apple streudels? Schnitzel with noodles? What are a few of your favorites things?


Anonymous said...

Chicken kebab at Safir at the food court at the Novy Smichov mall at Andel.

Any duck dish at La Provence.

Anonymous said...


I'm visiting Prague with my boyfriend just before Christmas. It's my first time in Prague so I don't know anything about the restaurant policy. Should we make reservations for them? Or even cafés?

By the way, your post about Café Louvre made me want that hot chocolate!

Brewsta said...

I'd say that it's a good idea to make reservations if you want to be sure to get into any of the more popular restaurants.

Most cafes wouldn't need a reservation. But one of my favorites, Cafe Savoy, is often full and I do book there on weekends.

I've never had trouble getting a table at Cafe Louvre, even though it is often busy (the smoking area is the biggest and more interesting part, unfortunately). Their hot chocolate really is a mood altering substance.

Anonymous said...

A tuna steak at the Alchemist during a Saturday evening, with a glass of Pinot Grigio and a beautiful, easily impressionable blonde sitting right next to you.

The bowl of mussels with the divine coconut milk at the Park in Vrsovice (their salmon tartar is not bad either) Particularly delicious after a good work-out in the nearby BBC gym.

The phad thai, followed by a Mojito at the Noodle Bar, after a "sandwitches and tea only" hard day of work.

The Greek omelet and a huge glass of orange juice at Radost, on a Sunday morning (no later than 15.00 though)

Everything, anytime at Olympos.

Looking forward to discover my new favorites still by reading your blog ;)

Brewsta said...

Nice list. I'm still trying to get over to Noodle Bar.

Anonymous said...

I've been to the Noodle Bar and had the Pad Thai. It's decent, though I didn't think it was anything out-of-the-ordinary. The Pad Thai at Modry Zub, which you've reviewed, is, to my palate, much better. I've actually been a bit disappointed by the Noodle Bar, though I haven't visited it since the spring, not long after it opened. Anyone reading: Is it worth making a trip back?

Anonymous said...

I was also talking about the Modry Zub noodle bar. The other one, next to Oliva has a nice atmosphere, even nicer staff but the food is umm...mediocre to say the least.

Brewsta said...

Thanks for clarifying. Been thinking of doing Modry Zub again after they expanded the menu.

Anonymous said...

interesting. i've had the mussels in coconut milk in the park cafe and i found the flavor odd. i always get their zucchini soup, though.

everything at olympos - defintely yes :-)

my favorite is the caesar salad at mozaika. i ate there many times, and ordered it like 90% of those visits.

and though i'm not big on sweets, the tart tropesian (spelling?) from passion chocolat is amazing.

Good_Will said...

Roughly in order of price/pleasure:

Bramboracka at U Vorare. 20Kc

Hoegaarden at U Suche Dasne. 34Kc

Pomelo salad at the Noodle bar. 165Kc

Tiger prawns in citrus creamy sauce with ginger at Oliva. 190Kc

Ribs at Frsco Vento: 210Kc

Beefsteak at U Dobre Myslenky. 275Kc

Tandoori prawns at Masala. 300Kc

The all you can eat lunch menu at Ambiente Brasileiro: 495Kc

That'll do me :)

Cheers, Will

Anonymous said...

Sorry to say that the Entrecote at Savoy is No More. they have an entrecote, it's more money, no crispy onions, no gravy.

Good, but not the same.

Brewsta said...

Yeah, I know. I had actually updated the post before you left your comment. Not happy about that change.