Saturday, May 10, 2008

Alexander's Restaurant (Closed)

***For reasons unknown, this restaurant appears to have closed down, only months after opening. If I find out more, I'll let you know***

Rick: This gun is pointed right at your heart.
Renault: That is my least vulnerable spot.
Casablanca (1942)
It wasn't love.

Not all first dates hold the promise of Rick and Ilsa-like passion.

But that doesn't mean you don't want a second date. Or a third.

Alexander's Restaurant is like that.We wandered up to the relatively new Vinohrady restaurant at the end of a long workweek.

The one-room dining area had a nice, spare design, but I didn't like the look of the bar. The bright tile pattern made it look like they finished building it the day before. It needed some character or patina.There was a good use of lighting accents on the walls, but overall, I found it a bit too bright in the room. Hurts the potential for romance.

We were starving, and they brought us some decent bread, green pitted olives, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes with some star anise mixed in. It was a pleasant change from the usual.For a starter, I ordered the carpaccio "a lá cipriani" (180 CZK). The sirloin beef was sliced slightly thicker than what I usually find elsewhere.

On top, there was rucola, halved cherry tomatoes, big slices of Parmesan cheese, small capers, and a generous portion of a sharp mustard sauce. I added some salt and pepper.V really liked the mustard sauce. I enjoyed it, but thought that there was a little too much. I still like carpaccio best with good olive oil and some lemon.

V got the cream mushrooms soup with Parmesan chips (110 CZK). It was frothy and creamy and we both thought it had a great balance of flavors.This was not the kind of soup where you see pieces of mushroom floating in the bowl. But their flavor was clear enough and, if you looked closely, you could see black flecks in there.

There were also very small, flavorful slivers in the soup, which must have been the Parmesan, though I thought they really had more of a buttery, crouton-like taste.

For a main course, I ordered the lamb ragout with tomato sauce mixed with fresh tomatoes, finely grated Parmesan, capers, and garlic, served over rigatoni (295 CZK).

This was the finest lamb ragout I've had in recent memory. Each morsel was cooked to the point of perfect tenderness. There was not a tough or overcooked piece in there.The pasta was exactly al dente. The seasoning of the sauce, mixed with the Parmesan, was just right and required no adjustment.

The dish was very filling.

V had the tiger prawns in tempura pasta with a curry-lime sauce (320 CZK). The five prawns sat atop wok-fried noodles mixed red peppers and other vegetables.My first reaction was that the curry sauce was a little too sour. But V loves very sour things and eats all lemon slices that come with drinks or food.

She convinced me that, in fact, the sauce was bold and tasty. She is very persuasive.

However, we both agreed that the tempura exterior didn't work out well. The fried batter a little thicker than you'd find at a sushi place. But there was no tempura crunch.

When these shrimp sat on top the steaming dish, along with the sauce, their coating got limp and soggy all the way through.

But Alexander's shrimp, themselves, were fine and fresh, and the noodles were also handled well.

I was really full at this point, but my curiosity about the desserts made me decide to pile on one more dish. I got a slice of chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.

It was quite rich, and served warm almond slices. I liked it, but wouldn't say it was exceptional. The slice was similar in texture to a fondant, but with no liquid center.The dessert was served with what I thought was a second-rate ice cream that tasted like artificial vanilla flavor.

Looking at the menu on the Internet, I see there is a chocolate souffle listed (170 CZK), but no chocolate cake.

And checking my receipt, no cake is listed, and the only non-specific charge says "kitchen" (in Czech) and a price of 95 CZK.

So, I'm not really sure what happened there.

For drinks, I had two .33 liter bottles of Pilsner Urquell (50 CZK each).

V had three .15 liter glasses of Rulandske Bile (65 CZK each).

We also had a couple of bottles of Bonaqua sparkling water (35 CZK each).

The service was friendly, with just a few hiccups. We quite liked our servers.

They just kept dropping our silverware or knocking it to the floor.

Three times.

Also, we didn't get napkins on our table and had to ask for them as we received our food.

But otherwise, they were efficient, polite, and did a good job.

The bill was 1365 CZK, which is a lot, but we ate and drank a lot. After the meal, we talked about it and decided that Alexander's is worth a return visit.

It's got a lot of the things we're looking -- some winning dishes, value for money, and a convenient location.

Alexander's hasn't won a place close to our hearts yet, but we thought it could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Alexander's Restaurant
U Kanálky 14
Prague 2 - Vinohrady
Tel. (+420) 222 210 582

View Larger Map

No comments: