Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Posezení U Čiriny

"I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli."

-U.S. President George H.W. Bush, 1990
V often makes me do things she thinks are good for me. Since I'm not president of anything, it is usually good politics to do what she asks.

One day, she decided I should broaden my culinary horizons. Her feeling, ironically, was that I needed to visit more restaurants frequented by Czechs.

And so it came to pass that we had lunch at Posezení U Čiriny (Gathering at Čirina’s).The chef, Irena Kosiková, once worked as the personal cook for Vaclav Havel when he was the Czech president.

Serving the high, if not the mighty, runs in the family. A recent article in Tyden magazine informed us that Kosiková's grandmother cooked for Hungarian nobility in Budapest.

Also of note, the restaurant was The Prague Post's editors' choice in 2004 for the best Czech or Slovak restaurant.

In addition to Czech and Slovak cuisine, there were Hungarian choices and local interpretations of Asian dishes.

The small dining rooms were very cozy, with just a few tables, low ceilings, and historical prints on the walls.

All the other tables were full and, yes, all the diners were speaking Czech.We were lucky to get a table as mid-afternoon walk-ins. It's popular, so if you want to go, I'd recommend reservations.

We started off splitting a bowl of borscht (40 CZK). V said it was good, but more of a Hungarian version than Russian. I thought it was on the bland side. I added a lot of salt.Havel himself is said to love the stuff. But the Tyden article said that Kosiková was the castle cook, the president kept his own spice grinder on the table.

The article said Havel is not, for the most part, a fancy food lover and likes Central and Eastern European traditional "classics." Which they have at Posezení U Čiriny.

And he likes the place so much that he brought his old friend, Joan Baez, to the restaurant after her 2007 concert at Lucerna's Grand Hall.

For a main course, I ordered the "Napoleon" skewer -- pork tenderloin with bacon-wrapped prunes (260 CZK). The meat was coated with drippings from the pan.

There was rice on the side. and it was mixed with broccoli. I don't love broccoli any more than the first President Bush. V makes me eat it because it's good for me. But there was only a little, and I really didn't mind so much.

Overall, the dish was just OK. I liked the mix of sweet and savory. But the pork was over-cooked and on the tough side.

We had to wait a long time for the main courses to come. V mentioned the delay to the waitress and she apologized. Our server said the kitchen was swamped because of a large party in another dining room.

V got the chicken with almonds, leeks, and pineapple (180 CZK). Rice was extra (40 CZK).

She had had it before and recommended it to me, but I thought I should try something more... regional (though I'm sure someone could argue there is a tradition of Asian-style dishes in this country).It was quite sweet, but the chicken was incredibly soft and tender. There wasn't much more to it than that.

I'll confess that I liked it more than the pork. In fact, we switched plates halfway through the lunch.

Aside from drinks, that's all we had. Perhaps, at a place like this, we should have tried specialties like the Bryndzové halušky (140 CZK), Slovak-style potato dumplings with sheep cheese, and bacon.

I've heard the strapačky se zelím (140 CZK) is also worth trying. It is similar to halušky, but instead of cheese, it has sauerkraut mixed in.

There are many variations, so I hope I've described it properly.

In the final analysis, I can't say I liked Posezení U Čiriny that much. But I didn't dislike it, either.

The dining room had a warm atmosphere. And if V wants to go again, I'll go and have the chicken without complaint.

Even about the broccoli.

Posezení U Čiriny
Navratilova 6
Prague 1
Tel. (+420) 222 231 709

View Larger Map


Anonymous said...

You absolutely should try the Bryndzové halušky, given another chance. Of all the dinners that I ate last time I was in that area, that was by far the best. It's simple, fattening, and delicious.

Anonymous said...

Here is another great restaurant in Budapest:

Pip Hines said...

The potato soup we had was superb: thick and creamy, with diced smoked pork, but cut with something sour (sauerkraut juice?) - more Hungarian or Romanian than Czech.
Even better were the apple fritters, with cinnamon sugar and chocolate sauce - I'm still sighing with contentment.