Prague restaurants preview: Grand Cru

We have been aware of the Grand Cru wine bar at Petrske namesti for a long time but never really visited the place. Recently, the wine bar opened a restaurant. We have heard good comments on the food and mixed comments on the service from our friends so we though we needed to check the place out, too. And, of course, whenever something new opens up, we can’t really miss it. 

The restaurant premises are newly remodeled - the manager said they were open for a week - and occupy the space formerly known as “Modra tabulka” restaurant. The small patio between the wine bar and the restaurant is really pretty and creates a nice “buffer zone” between the outside reality and the restaurant itself. We sat in the first row of tables basking in the daylight from the roof and side window panes. The ambiance is really elegant and airy and we can see people going to Grand Cru to celebrate special occasions or on fancy dates.

We went for lunch. Grand Cru offers weekly lunch specials for a reasonable price: you can choose from two appetizers, two mains and two desserts. All the three courses together cost CZK 400 (EUR 15) but you can just have one or two courses of your choosing for less. You can also add anything from their regular a la carte menu, which we did: we ordered their foie gras appetizer. We each had a glass of wine to go with the meal, a German Riesling and an Austrian Gruner Veltliner. Their wine list is pretty impressive. But more about the wines later. 

The bread basket was fairly nice and slightly above the Prague standard (but still could be better); the butter was a regular salted affair. What we really enjoyed, though, was the amuse bouche: roast beef with sautéed mushrooms. We could honestly eat a regular portion. The amuse bouche really sets a nice tone for the entire meal and shows that the ambitions of Grand Cru are high.

For starters, we had the smoked eel with parsley puree, pickled baby onions and marmalade, and foie gras with plum jam and brioche bread. The foie gras was nice but the version we had at Alcron a few days before was a bit better. But we are nitpicking here: the plum jam was a bit tart and we prefer sweeter tones with our foie gras. The smoked eel with parsley puree and onions was great. The creamy puree was naturally sweet and complimented the smoky eel. Some parts of the eel were a bit chewy but overall we really liked the dish.  

The roast pork belly with lentil ragout and pork jus was to die for. Succulent, very tender, melt-in-your-mouth pork belly with crunchy skin. Zuzi wanted a bit more salt, Jan was perfectly satisfied. The grilled mackerel with vegetables was really well cooked and well seasoned, too, but the pork was the star of the lunch. We wanted one dessert and chose the chocolate mousse with waffles and blueberries on the waiter’s suggestion. It was ok but nothing special. The combination made little sense to us. We could have made without it. The presentation reminded us of a recent episode of Top Chef Duels where they had to make a dessert at least 6 inches tall. 

Overall, we really liked the lunch and the kitchen shows a lot of promise. The interiors are beautiful and we can imagine the dining experience is even better when they open the side window panes and let the summery fresh air in. You can’t really see the restaurant from the street, so walking in is a very pleasant surprise and the food is great. The staff was very welcoming and nice, too.

One word about the wines. Grand Cru’s wine list is very impressive and they have a large selection of high-quality wines and knowledgeable sommeliers. We would have wished for more than just two winemakers from the Czech Republic, though. We said from the start that we wanted just a glass each. Zuzi got a really nice German Riesling and Jan wanted a Gruner Veltliner. The sommelier suggested an Austrian wine. Inspecting the bill, we found out the Gruner was CZK 340 a glass. That is pretty steep. We did not mind but thought it would have been sensible for the sommelier to ask for a price range, especially given that the price of the glass was higher than the price of the entire lunch special if you had two courses. You can easily avoid this kind of surprise just by simply saying what you want to pay for the wine.