Not many restaurants opened in Prague this year have stirred so much emotion and caused so many heated discussions as Eska, the latest restaurant by Prague’s ubiquitous Ambiente group of restaurants that already owns and operates such heavyweights as the Lokal pubs, Cafe Savoy, Cestr or La Degustation. Eska is Ambiente’s attempt to redefine what modern casual Czech cuisine is, so of course it got people talking.
Ambiente will always find it a bit more difficult to warm the foodie circles up to their new openings because they are not exactly the mom-and-pop underdog people tend to root for on a subconscious level. They are not, by definition, the hidden gem you will keep for yourself from your friends and the wide public. No, they are the big money, the 700-employee behemoth that, in a way, defines the Prague food scene, so of course they will have as many haters as they have fans, if not more. But regardless of that, they are one of the biggest trendsetters in Prague when it comes to food, so when Ambi talks, or opens a restaurant with an entirely new concept for Prague, you listen.
Also, the stakes were heightened by the fact that the restaurant, which opened early November, was a long time coming, with the first planned opening date in May or June, and the information was leaking fast. We were supposed to see very modern design of an eatery that combines a restaurant, a bakery and a coffee shop. While the restaurant was not going to be purely vegetarian, it would be inspired by Nordic cuisine with all the associated fermentation and pickling, and focus on seasonal vegetables. And it should have been unlike anything in Prague yet. So how is it, really? Should you care? Or visit? Here’s our thoughts.