Three nights in vegetarian Prague

June 29, 2014 at 9:09 pm (Trip report, Uncategorized)

I spent three days last week in Prague with my sister, my brother, and my sister-in-law. Three of the four of us were vegetarian, so we mostly ate at vegetarian or ethnic restaurants. Below are some notes.

Hotel K+K Fenix: I was quite impressed by the breakfast at our hotel. It was open long hours, offered a wide selection of cold and hot items, and even included some organic items. There was lots of tasty fresh fruit including melons, kiwis, apricots, cherries, and apples. Other cold items included various pastries and cakes, various breads and jams and nutella, various juices, milk including soymilk, yogurt, meusli and various cold cereals, and nuts and dried fruit. On the hot side, there were hard-boiled eggs, broiled tomatoes, and sautéed mushrooms. The quality of the food generally seemed quite high. The only thing I tried that I really didn’t like were the scrambled eggs.

Kotleta: We ate our first lunch on the patio of this restaurant right near the old town square. The name of the restaurant apparently translates to “eyeball,” which is not the most appetizing of names. But our tour guide recommended it, and we were hungry, so we let her cajole us into eating there, despite the fact that it didn’t have a lot of vegetarian options. It’s supposedly a non-smoking restaurant but lots of people were smoking on the patio. We shared a few different dishes. The portobello mushroom appetizer was quite small, with only two tiny portobellos, but I thought they were tasty. The grilled marinated peppers were yellow bell peppers on top of large mounds of feta cheese. We ordered a salad with gratinated goat cheese on toast, marinated fig in honey and herbs, roasted walnuts, grapes and a wild cherry dressing. The dressing was a little too sweet for me but the salad was okay. Finally, I ordered a baked potato. Everyone was making fun of me for ordering such a boring dish, but I quite liked it. The skin was nice and crispy and the inside was various moist. The salad, grilled peppers, small baked potato, and 2 little portobello mushrooms cost 249+169+79+79=576 crowns, which adds up to $9.55 per person just for the vegetarian food. We were definitely paying a tourist bonus. We also ordered drinks, which were actually my favorite part of the meal. I got a ginger lemonade which was very gingery, and my sister-in-law ordered a cucumber lemonade that was bright green and tasted strongly of cucumbers. Both were absolutely delicious, although too strong for my brother and sister.

Maitrea: We ate dinner our first night at this vegetarian restaurant, which a friend had recommended. We started with a selection of mixed starters, which consisted of hummus, red beet tartare, roasted bell peppers, pickled goat cheese, a spinach crêpe, and bread). Everyone else thought that the starter plate was really bland and boring, but I liked it. The hummus mostly tasted like mashed chickpeas, with little lemon juice or garlic, but I found it satisfying. I think one issue was that everything was pretty low-salt. I also ordered a bowl of lentil soup, which was again pretty plain but with some sweet spice (cloves?) that I couldn’t quite identify. Again, I liked it more than anyone else. We shared four main dishes. I thought the vegetable lasagna was reasonable, but my sister and sister-in-law found it sour and offputting. We ordered a spinach and arugula salad with sun-dried tomatoes, capers, garlic, smoked tofu, and a balsamico-honey reduction. I liked the smoked tofu but found the dressing too sweet. My sister liked the salad much more than me. My brother ordered Thai eggplant with tofu, fresh coriander, chili peppers, and coconut milk, which I couldn’t eat. The sauce was just too sweet and goopy. Everyone’s favorite dish was the meatless „chicken“ and mushroom balls with oven-roasted vegetables, basil pesto and homemade tofunnaise. The balls were very tasty, but unfortunately there were only three of them. Overall no one was particularly impressed with the food, but everyone agreed that the ambience and decor of the restaurant was quite nice. If this restaurant were in Saarbruecken I’d definitely go back, as I’m sure with some trial and error I could find a couple of dishes I really like. The meal for the four of us with water and a few non-alcoholic drinks came to about 1050 crowns, or $13.05 per person.

Modry Zub Noodle Bar: For lunch on our second day we went to what we thought was a Thai order-at-the-counter joint. But it turned out that most of the tables were part of a sit-down restaurant. So we were relegated to a little table off to the side. We thought it was a fast food kind of place but it ended up taking quite a while for them to bring us our food. The four of us shared three dishes: a green curry with tofu, pad thai, and ma-muang tofu with veggies and cashew nuts. I liked the green curry, but my brother didn’t care for it much. My brother and sister really liked the cashew dish. Overall it was a pleasant lunch, and three dishes was plenty for the four of us. Altogether the lunch cost 535 crowns, or $6.65 per person. They even gave us free tap water!

Pizzeria Ristorante GiovanniFor our second dinner we went to this Italian restaurant not far from the center. The first table they sat us at was very smoky, so we asked to be moved, and they moved us to a different room which was apparently their non-smoking section. We ordered a tomato soup and garlic bread as appetizers, but they brought them out at the same time as our main dishes. The garlic bread was basically just pizza dough with no discernible garlic flavor. The tomato soup was very good though, and we ended up spreading it on the garlic bread to give it some flavor. My sister ordered the tortelli tartufo, which were stuffed with truffle and asparagus in a tomato-truffle cream sauce. I couldn’t detect any asparagus, but the truffle and cream sauce was tasty.  We shared a salad of arugula, tomatoes, carrot, and zucchini, which was fine, but the salad dressing seemed to be just oil. Luckily there was balsamic vinegar on the table, and that helped. I ordered the pasta primavera, which was a bit small and really boring. It had very few vegetables and needed some pizzazz. My sister liked the noodles though. She thought they tasted homemade. Our final dish was a regina margherita pizza with buffalo mozzarella, arugula, and cherry tomatoes, and we added olives to it. Again, it was inoffensive but boring. It helped to dip it in the tomato soup. I guess it needed more tomato sauce? Altogether with a bottle of water the meal came to 1130 crowns, or $14.04 per person.

Bombay Express: My sister and I got take-out from this Indian fast food joint, and took it on the train with us for dinner. The yellow dal was pretty tasty, but the saag paneer wasn’t quite right. Both dishes came with massive quantities of rice. For the two dishes and two take out boxes they charged us 188 crowns, about $4.68 per person.

Clear Head (Lehka Hlava): My sister and I ate our last lunch at this vegetarian restaurant, which turned out to be a sister restaurant to Maitrea. I was in a bit of a rush because I had to get to the airport, so I just ordered a bowl of red lentil and carrot soup. The bowl was quite small and brothy, and it didn’t seem like nearly enough food for lunch. So I asked the waitress what else I could order that would come quickly, and she recommended the quesadilla with marinated vegetarian “chicken.” It arrived quickly and piping hot, but I found it a bit odd tasting. The inside had not only the vegetarian mock meat and cheese, but tons of grainy mustard. I found the combination odd, and I thought that the dish as a whole needed salsa desperately. The quesadilla came with a bit of guacamole, which was pleasant, and helped to add a bit of flavor to the dish. My sister ordered the beet burger, which was huge and disconcertingly bloody looking. The burger was on a bun with pickles and soggy lettuce and some kind of creamy sauce. She had also ordered it with cheddar, but she said that with the sauce and the cheddar it was too rich. She ended up pulling off the bun and just eating the burger. She said it was better that way. I tried it but didn’t particularly care for the dish. Since it was my last meal in Prague, I splurged and ordered another ginger lemonade. This one tasted different than my first one, but was equally delicious. Wow, was it ginger-y and lemon-y. I wish I could get it in Saarbruecken! I guess I’ll have to learn how to make something similar myself. Altogether our meal with drinks added up to 485 crowns, or about $12.06 per person.

My sister and I left Prague for a couple of days and took the train out to the Adršpach-Teplice Rocks. The park itself was lovely, and we spent a very nice morning and early afternoon hiking through the Teplice section of the park. But food was an issue. We were staying right near the park rather than in a town, and all the restaurants at the hotels near us were inexplicably closed. We ended up having to go 2 km to the single restaurant in the nearest town (which was more like a village). The vegetarian pickings were very slim, and we ended up with a plate of french fries, mayonnaise, deep fried cheese or broccoli, and cabbage salad. Although we enjoyed the natural environment, foodwise we were quite glad to return to the more veggie-friendly Prague.

1 Comment

  1. Max Hoberman said,

    Actually I did like the green curry – I thought the Thai restaurant was the best food on our trip! It couldn’t touch the great food we had in London though.

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