Monday, September 8, 2008

Staromestska Restaurace

Staromestska Restaurace, Prague

Traditional Czech cuisine on the Old Town Square

(Note: I'm terrible at diacritical marks--will try to edit to add them later.)

If you're going to be a tourist in Prague, you might as well eat out on the sidewalk at the Old Town Square. You'll pay a premium for food you could get cheaper a couple blocks away, but it's worth it to see the twilight descend over the ancient buildings, the lights go on, and the other tourists go walking by. And, as it turns out, the food is pretty good.

There were a few Czech dishes that we'd been reading up on and wanted to try. We didn't get the fried pork knuckle, sadly, but Staromestska did offer roast pork loin with red and white cabbage, and bread and potato dumplings, as well as a roast chicken with pear, fries, curry sauce, and cheese sauce. So we sat on their patio, where the prices are about 40% higher than inside the restaurant--again, you're paying a premium for the location and the view.

The waiter waved us to our choice of table, and understood enough English to help us with our order and inform us that they did not accept credit cards. They did, however, take Euros, which we had enough of. So we sat right on the edge of the square, the last row of tables, as the sun was setting, and sipped our beer and Coke Light (same price), and reflected on how lucky we were to be in Prague.

In Prague, as in much of Europe, you have to request bread; it doesn't come free with meals. So we did, and got a basket with some slices of beer bread--good and sour, like the bread at Allegro--and rodlicky, the traditional Czech banana-shaped roll. The rodlicky was slightly disappointing, almost like a pretzel with its solid but not crispy crust and firm interior. But maybe that's what it's supposed to be like.

Nothing disappointed about the rest of the meal. The chicken and pork both came out tender and juicy. Good fries, firm and crunchy, and good cabbages. You could tell the difference between the more sour white cabbage, which was almost sauerkraut, and the sweeter purple variety, though both were marinated and cooked. The dumplings took the place of our mashed potatoes, thick, bready, and moist. The potato dumplings almost had the consistency of the gnocchi from Allegro, while the bread dumplings tasted like slaps of unsweetened bread pudding. Both good for sopping up gravy or softening the bite of the cabbage.

We sat and ate our Czech meal, watched them fold up the shade umbrellas, and watched the buildings shine under the glow of the lights. Wonderful way to conclude our too-brief visit to Prague. We toasted the city with a promise to come back.

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