Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Half & Half Update

"An optimist will tell you the glass is half-full. A pessimist will tell you it is half-empty. An engineer will tell you the glass is twice the size it needs to be."
My struggle last year to find decent fast food around Wenceslas Square is neverending.

Last year, I wrote about Half & Half a few times. It's time for an update because it changed its offerings significantly and for the better since it first opened.Now, the focus is on Italian and Greek cuisine, along with their previous dessert offerings. And they do a decent job, at least compared with everything else out there.

The first change that caught my attention was the pizzas under heat lamps in the front window. They usuall have a wide variety of pies prepared, with many interesting toppings like fried zucchini and eggplant, peppers, pepperoni, rucola, and more.On one visit, I ordered a slice with mushroom. Most are around 45 CZK.

The slices were not nearly as large as those from Pizza Grosso, behind the National Museum, which go for 30 CZK. The sauce isn't as nicely seasoned. But Half & Half's was still not bad.It usually has a good, crunchy crust, unless it has been under a lamp for too long.On another visit, I tried the Hawaiian pizza. I once read a real Neapolitan restaurateur said a Hawaiian isn't a pizza, it's a cake. Let them eat cake, I say.I also went for some white pizza. I wished it had more garlic and ricotta. But it was a nice change from the usual pizzas and not one you'll see at too many other places around town.One day, I decided to try something new after I saw these fried balls behind the counter.

It was pretty unusual.

Basically, it tasted like breaded and fried rice pudding, with a square of mozarrella in the center.

It needs to be heated at the shop or in the microwave at work. It's not good cold.

It cost 25 CZK. There were a few varieties available -- I also saw one with tomato and mozarrella inside.

They are cheap and filling, but they sit pretty heavily on the stomach.

In a display case, there were other offerings like chicken legs, stuffed peppers, lasagne, and moussaka.I got the moussaka (89 CZK) one afternoon. It had a light, creamy cheese on top. It was very heavy on the potatoes, which were cut into long, thick slices. The meat was on the bland side.My all-time favorite lunch at Half & Half is the chicken gyros pita (59 CZK). It is one of the best sandwich-type meals you'll find in the area.They use real Greek pita bread, brush it with oil, and heat it in the pizza oven. When it comes out, Greek yogurt is spread on the pita. It tastes better than it looks.A very generous portion of chicken is freshly carved off from the rotisserie. There is so much meat, it is pretty messy to eat.

I spread it out on a plate, if I can. They chicken is very well-seasoned and also moist, with some crisp pieces. It has never been dry or overcooked.I always get it with raw red onions and tomatoes. And I tell them to leave off the only other option: cold sour cabbage. No thank you.

Half & Half is actually two shops next two each other. You have to walk outside to go into the half that serves desserts. There is good quality gelato in the window.They also sell a variety of fancy cakes, cookies, and Greek honey desserts like baklava.I tried the chocolate cake (75 CZK). It was very fudgey but I didn't fall in love with it.They also often have my favorite Greek dessert, which goes by the unwieldy name galaktoboureko (69 CZK). It is custard, baked in phyllo, coated with honey.A nice version (although more expensive than the gyros pita!).

On a visit last year, I became a fan of their chocolate milkshakes, which are made with top quality gelato. They charged 65 CZK for a .4 liter shake.The shake was good, with a very strong chocolate flavor. T.G.I. Friday's shake is better only because they use more ice cream. Half & Half's uses more milk.

For some perspective, they charged 45 CZK for a single serving cone of gelato, but you get less gelato than in the milkshake. I think they have a .3 liter shake for 55 CZK.

Service is not always great and can break down if a crowd comes in. Some of the women who work there don't speak great English, which is not great in a tourist zone. Sometimes their Czech is a little challenged, too.

I do wish Prague had more quality quick lunch choices like Britain's Pret a Manger sandwich and salad chain. There is still nothing as good as that.

But things are getting better.

I feel optimistic when I think that, years ago, there were half as many places to get a decent, fast lunch around Wenceslas Square.

I feel pessimistic when I think there are half as many as there need to be.

For now, Half & Half will have to do.

Half & Half
Wenceslas Square 51
Prague 1
Tel. 222 240 696

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Anonymous said...

those weird rice balls are a typical dish: they are called suppli' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suppl%C3%AC or arancini http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arancino
>>>it looks way better than a few months ago

Brewsta said...

I appreciate the enlightenment. There are many gaps in my food knowledge.

Anonymous said...

ops, I meant a typical 'Italian' dish...
>>>I'll try to get there next week for lunch and, if i do, I'll write you my impression of the place

PS: ice creams at svetozor have improved, I tried orange and white chocolate and they were tasty and creamy

Unknown said...

We visited this branch of Half & Half on Saturday evening 27th Sept 2008. The girl serving had little or no english and was extremely rude the way she gestured to us. We ordered pizza, suppli, lasagne & potatoe wedges, and the pizza was all we ate - we left the rest behind. The suppli was very dry and not very tasty, the lasagne had a white sauce overdose and the wedges were extremely greasy. I would not be bothered returning here when I visit Prague again and would not recommend it to anyone if they're looking for decent fast food!!!!

Anonymous said...

Σας ευχαριστω παρα πολυ για την εξυπηρετηση και την διατροφη μου εκει στην Πραγα.Ηρθα με εναν φιλο μου απο Θεσσαλονικη στις 6/11/2009 στο καταστημα σας..Φοβερος γυρος και αυτο τιμα την ελληνικη κουζινα μαζι με ολα οσα προσφερετε εκει..Να ειστε καλα.Ιορδανης απο Αλεξανδρουπολη.