What is the best Michelin star restaurant in Prague for you? That is the question. With the 2016 Michelin City Guide out and Prague getting a third star, the choice between Michelin-rated restaurants in Prague got slightly more complicated. Sure, it’s no rocket science: Prague now has three Michelin-star restaurants and six Bib Gourmand restaurants (meaning “exceptional good food at moderate prices", sometimes incorrectly labelled as “half-a-star”), so we’re talking a handful of restaurants. But how do you know which one is the one you should visit if you're in Prague for three days? It’s difficult given how complicated the Michelin site is, and the online reviews for all the restaurants listed are all over the place.
That’s where we come to the rescue, and bring you a small guide of Prague Michelin-star restaurants put down in layman’s terms. The key questions is: what type of diner are you? An adventurous one, or a more conservative one? This is vital because it will avoid some costly mistakes and disappointments. If you set your expectations right, you will be happy in any of these, so while we may seem to be a bit critical, bear in mind we’re merely nitpicking and looking for differences. You should be happy in any of these if you choose the proper one. So here we go.
Michelin star restaurants in Prague:
If there was one Michelin star restaurant in Prague to splurge on, it would be La Degustation for us. But that’s us. Before you make the investment, you should look into the mirror and ask yourself: Am I an adventurous eater? Because if you are unwilling to try new dishes and expand your palate, La Degustation may not be for you. Mind you, the food is delicious. It’s just deeply rooted in Czech flavors that not may be up to everyone’s taste. (Bread ice-cream, anyone? We loved it, btw.) But if you’ve travelled around for food and are all up for new things, the odds are you will end up loving it. The concept of the restaurant is simple: classic Czech flavors (partly inspired by a 1894 Czech cookbook) in modern format. You can choose a 6 or 11-course set menu and pair it with hard-to-get Czech and foreign wines or their juice mixtures made in-house. The food is top notch, sourced from local farms, and served in a modern, elegant, yet surprisingly welcoming and casual atmosphere. If this restaurant was a celebrity: Matthew McConaughey.
Among all the Michelin star restaurants in Prague, Alcron must be the most old-fashioned. Yes, this 22-seat restaurant in the Radisson Blue hotel has been a constant on the Prague fine dining scene since it was opened in 1932, and the service does not seem to have moved on since then. We mean, men and women get different menus (women’s menus don’t have the prices) for Christ’s sake. The tuxedo-clad staff will dive for the fork you’ve dropped and catch it in their white gloves before it hits the ground. The menu is a classic French-inspired Michelin-star menu with the usual suspects like foie gras, scallops or steak, and the dishes are executed to perfection, but the menu does miss a sense of location a bit. This is the perfect place for a conservative diner who prefers comfort over adventure. If this restaurant was a celebrity: Frank Sinatra.
You have to give it to Field: getting a Michelin star after only a year of existence in “Easter Europe” is nearly a miracle. The kitchen wants to wow you with the presentation (think dry ice and such), but the cooking is solid and we really like Chef Kasparek’s sauces, for instance. Unlike in La Degustation, you can order dishes a la carte, which is great if you don’t want to get tied to a set prix fixe menu, and you can pair it all with great wines or their juices made in-house. Field also serves lucnh, although they recently got rid of their lunch specials to focus on their main menu. The interiors are modern with a beautiful ceiling in an airy room, with some details that refer to their “Free Range Dining” concept. And that’s what we have a problem with: what the heck does that even mean? The dishes are modern, mostly Czech, but inspiration by other famous restaurants is palpable, and the concept seems to be a bit artificial (compared to La Degustation, for instance). Still, while the cooking and presentation may be a bit too flashy in our book, this is still a great choice with great cooking. If this restaurant was a celebrity: David Beckham.
Bib Gourmand restaurants in Prague
Oh, you gotta love Sansho: a fantastic fusion of organic meat from a nose-to-tail butcher shop run by Paul Day, the chef/owner, and fresh Asian ingredients brought in from the Vietnamese Sapa market that makes up for some of the best dishes in the city. The a-la-carte lunches and set-menu dinners will satisfy both carnivores and vegetarians: Paul simply knows how to cook and it does not matter what you eat - he will always cook something nice for you. The dishes are served to patrons sitting at communal or separate tables in a very casual environment that has all the makings of a memorable dinner. A must-eat in our book. Try their house cocktails: Sansho is one of the few restaurants in Prague that serves their own cocktails, and they're nice. If this restaurant was a celebrity: Ryan Gosling.
We find ourselves going to SaSaZu, an Asian fusion restaurant in a converted slaughter house with a clubby feel, quite frequently. We have our favorite items on the menu and always order the same thing: the Hong Kong rolls, the SaSa crispy rolls, the duck salad and so on. We always choose something new, too, but that’s a hit-or-miss. While the Asian-inspired food with a slightly sweet flavor profile is good, SaSaZu can have notoriously bad service by staff who seem to be hired by the Abercrombie & Fitch HR department. Sure, it’s nice to look at, but hey, sometimes you just want good service. On the bright side, after a dinner at SaSaZu, you kinda wish every restaurant had a Vietnamese girl walking around and offering back rubs or hand massage after the meal. SaSaZu is a great place with really good food, sometimes crappy service and a bit strange, mobster-like patrons who smoke cigarettes but you don’t really smell it due to their awesome air-conditioning system. If this restaurant was a celebrity: Kim Kardashian.
Maso a kobliha
Probably the biggest and the happiest surprise of the 2016 Michelin guide for Prague was the Bib Gourmand award given to Maso a kobliha. A bit like the Spotted Pig in NYC, Maso a kobliha, the sister restaurant of Sansho, is a simple gastropub with craft beers and simply fantastic food, and overall one of our favorite places in Prague. The classics are clear: the Scotch eggs and the vanilla custard donuts, but anything that is made of the organic beef and pork from Paul Day’s The Real Meat Society is worth a taste. Paul is a perfectionist and all his dishes are fine-tuned to perfection or otherwise taken out of the menu. This is not a dress-up dinner date venue but a happy place for a reunion with friends and drunken meaty nibbles… with a Bib Gourmand award. If this restaurant was a celebrity: Jarvis Cocker.
Only a few chefs have done so much for the Czech culinary scene as Mr Pohlreich, the chef/owner of Divinis. As the main star of the Czech version of the Kitchen Nightmares show, he has been teaching the Czechs to demand better in restaurants. His flagship, Divinis, is a classic Italian restaurant, but a modern one: you should not expect a trattoria with checkered table cloths, but an intimate, modern environment that may be ideal for a nice dinner date. This being an Italian restaurant, the menu is by definition a bit more conservative: chef Pohlreich has been known to keep a menu intact for long if the dishes work. If this restaurant was a celebrity: Eros Ramazotti.
When we run our Prague food tours, we get asked about a “restaurant with a view” quite often, and Aureole, located on the top floor of a high-rise building, clearly does deliver in that department: the view is as good as it is ever going to get here in Prague, albeit slightly “zoomed out”, given the restaurant’s location slightly south of the historical centre. The food is solid, although the menu is a slightly confusing mix of French (foie gras terrine) and Asian dishes and - wait for it - sushi. That said, we liked our meals whenever we went there: the presentation is clean and the cooking is slightly on the safer side, but there’s nothing wrong with that. The interiors are modern and the whole place with a cocktail bar and a cigar lounge has a slightly 60s jet-setting atmosphere. And you can’t beat the view. If this restaurant was a celebrity: James Bond (Roger Moore’s era).
Na kopci is a restaurant you have to make an effort to find, and you should not blame your Uber driver for missing it the first time around, because we sometimes do too. A true destination dining place, because God knows not many people live there. The restaurant has an air of joie de vivre: the food is good, the portions are huge, the French wines are tasty, and everybody can feel like a regular after just one visit, greeted by the Maitre d’, one of the co-owners of the place (the second one being the Maitre D’s childhood friend, who happens to be the chef, too). Na kopci is basically an elevated French pub with a homey feel way out of the centre: you won’t be wowed by the chef’s use of micro greens and tweezers, but if you like a big portion of steak or fish, this just might be your place. If this restaurant was a celebrity: Gerard Depardieu.