September usually means one thing for Taste of Prague: the climax of our summer season... and the wine harvest, which we are always excited about. However, September was a very interesting month for the Prague culinary scene, too. That’s great news: a few very promising places opened in September and despite this being our busiest month, we tried to visit them all. Oh, the sacrifices we have to make for you! :-)
We bring you a roundup of interesting placess that opened in Prague in or around September:
Maso a kobliha
After weeks of excruciating wait, Paul Day's pub and butcher shop, Maso a kobliha (which translates as “Meat and Doughnuts”) opened recently for soft opening. It is located right next to Sansho, and we can easily see ourselves becoming regulars there. They are now fine-tuning the menu and every time we visited, the food was delicious. Maso a kobliha serves English pub food made using the meat from the Real Meat Society, which occupies the prominent meat counter opposite the entry. This means they have organic and traceable dry-aged beef and Prestice pork grown for them, and sometimes chicken. They also serve fantastic sandwiches. The opening of Maso a kobliha is great news for Sansho, too: more kitchen space combined means more space for cooking. And the doughnuts should finally arrive by the end of this week! (Until then, the delicious apple crumble will have to do.)
The biggest transfer of the year on the Prague culinary scene so far has been the transfer of Chef Puncochar from Le Terroir to Grand Cru. Grand Cru has expanded its premises near the Petrske namesti square and opened a proper restaurant on top of the wine bar next door. The investor behind the whole project seems to have big plans, which was good news for Mr Puncochar. The famous chef wanted to leave Prague but this opportunity has changed his plans. Our first visit, which we described on our blog recently, has shown great promise. Grand Cru really seems to fight for a top spot on the Prague fine dining scene. The other plan of the investor involves the infamous Monarch wine bar. The Monarch is now being converted into a wine and tapas bar under the management of a Spanish Michelin-star chef.
The Vinohrady district has not been short on good openings recently, and the trend seems to be accelerating, if anything. Ari’s Restaurant, the newest Vinohrady venue, was opened by Ari, a former chef at Mandarin Oriental’s Essensia and Hilton’s Zinc. The restaurant takes inspiration mostly from Ari’s native Indonesian cuisine. We visited the restaurant in its first week after opening. We thought our meal was mostly great and offered good value, too. The pork belly with pork cracklings in the sauce was a truly memorable dish that we keep thinking about. The restaurant is still looking for its vibe and atmosphere but if you get a good table, you can see the chefs working in the open kitchen. From October on, Ari’s restaurant plans to present a different South Asian cuisine every week. You can thus taste what’s cooking in Singapore, Borneo, Java and so on.
Mr Banh Mi
Prague had been long waiting for a proper banh mi place. Although more and more Vietnamese places have been cropping up around the city, Red Hot Chili in the Karlin district was the only venue serving banh mi, and for breakfast only. But it seems that the time for banh mi has finally arrived. The small counter at Spalena street in the centre was the first, but it is not worth our recommendation. We loved the banh mi at the recently opened Gao Den with its clean, modern interiors and great food. But only the most daring real estate agents would call its location central - it’s in the middle of a huge panel housing estate in Stodulky. For proper banh mi near the centre, we recommend Mr Banh Mi in Rumunska street in the Vinohrady district. Everything they serve is made in house. Although the waiting time may be a bit longer, they do try their best and the staff is very nice and pleasant. Their baguette made in house may be a bit more rustic than most but we love the crunch and the flavor.
La Bottega Bistroteka is the newest eatery by the well established Aromi group that runs Italian venues around Prague. Just like Gastronomica, the group’s previous opening, Bistroteka boasts great, modern design, perfect location in the Dlouha foodie passage next to Sisters bistro and Nase maso butcher shop, and a high standard of cooking. The group’s bistros have always clearly belonged to higher end, but the prices in the new Bistroteka are even higher. That said, we did like our visit and we can see ourselves returning for a special-day breakfast or a nice Italian meal in a relaxed atmosphere.
The owners of the popular Anonymous Bar have decided to open a café with a cool interior and a theme that matches that of the bar. You know you have entered hipster coffee land when the filter coffee is served in jars, just like in The Barn in Berlin. On our visit, Anonymous offered two types of coffee and you should make sure you know what you getting. One was an Italian-type darker roast, which is not our cup of tea, while the other was a lighter roast great for a flat white. In addition to espresso-based drinks, some salads and gluten-free cakes, Anonymous offers alternative brewing methods, too. You can see that the staff is mostly coffee geeks who love what they do. With a top-of-the-line 3-section La Marzocco La Strada machine, you kinda understand why.
Woker was opened by the former executive chef at the upscale Buddha Bar and the owner of the Porto restaurant next door. It is located in the Urxova street and offers sushi, noodle and rice dishes and ramen. The diminutive eatery that sits no more than ten guests plans to do mostly takeaways and deliveries. We visited during the opening week, during which they offered everything for the low, low price of free. The staff was very nice and explained everything. We had the dry-aged Angus beef sushi and we liked it. Their ramen included udon noodles on opening as a preliminary measure, but that should change soon.