Culinary Prague: 3 destinations

The old Hapsburg metropolis gives important signs of awakening with La Degustation Bohëme bourgeoise, Casa de Carli and Bellevue

03-02-2020
The open view kitchen at La Degustation Bohëme b

The open view kitchen at La Degustation Bohëme bourgeoisein Haštalká 18, +420222311234, one Michelin star since 2012 (photo ladegustation.cz)

Three books to read (or read again) before visiting Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic which, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, did not struggle to retrace its ancient European roots: “By night under the Stone Bridge” by Leo Perutz; “The Trial” by Franz Kafka and “The Golem” by Gustav Meyrink. These works from the 20th century, despite their differences, evoke the spiritual essence of that mysterious koinè of people, languages, ethnicities and religions that was the Hapsburg Prague. At the end of 2019 and the beginning of the new year, we tried to investigate the culinary side of Prague too. Putting aside the many local restaurace, with hot soup, meat, goulash and strudel and rivers of excellent beer that have never disappointed us in fact, three international restaurants were chosen as representative of the culinary standards of this magnificent city: La Degustation Bohëme bourgeoise; Italian Casa de Carli and Il Bellevue.

La Degustation (Haštalká 18, +420222311234) has one Michelin star since 2012. Warm atmosphere, open view kitchen, solid oak tables and nice chandeliers. Chef Oldřich Sahajdákdoes not neglect local raw materials and traditions, giving a new take with an innovative, intelligent spirit. We chose his tasting menu for 3,450 crowns (around 130 euros, excluding wines). Eight courses of which the first was very nice, made with beetroot, yoghurt and poppy seeds, and the fourth and sixth were unforgettable: pear, truffle and parsley, and Japanese venison with plums and grapes. In my opinion the dessert was not up to the standards, a caramel with peanuts that followed a small trdelnik (a “Bohemian roll”, which is in fact of Hungarian origins) and a marshmallow skewer. The list, including international wines, was very interesting.


Casa de' Carli, Italian restaurant 

Casa de' Carli, Italian restaurant 

Casa de' Carli (Vězeňská116/5, +420224816688) is close to the Spanish Synagogue, off the grave of Rabbi Löw. It’s an Italian restaurant owned by Matteo De Carli, a young chef from Varese with previous experience at the Four Seasons Hotel Dublin, and then as restaurateur in Dubai, and executive chef at Cipriani in New York. Having married a Czech woman, Matteo starts this business with a surprising wine list (you can drink very well in Prague, and not just beer). Even in this case we chose a 5-course tasting menu (1,150 crowns for 44 euros excluding wines; and there are two more, with 4 and 6 courses, for 995 and 1,550 crowns). Matteo jumps from meat to fish, and the quality of the sea bass and the scallops is impressive, in a place that has no sea. The wagyu steak tartare is memorable. The chef brought to Prague Italian style, hospitality, warmth, and the way of presenting ourselves that makes us appreciated around the world, but he is also open to frequent international influences. And it’s a very good thing. This makes his restaurant an Italian establishment that we didn’t regret visiting abroad. It’s quite a compliment.

Bellevue

Bellevue

Bellevue (18 Smetanovo nábř. 329 StaréMěsto, +420222221443). Overlooking Charles Bridge and the castle, in the heart of the town, from here, on New Year’s Eve we admired the fireworks on the Vitava. For a full meal, excluding wines, on average you pay around 60 euros. Chef Nicholas Decherchi, sous chefs Lukas Kriz and Lukas Masek, and Francesco Novakin the dining room. We had the special "New Year’s Eve 2019 menu", with a remarkable selection of international wines. While every course met expectations, we’ll remember for a long time the Foie gras with red cabbage and the “simple” fried egg with shaved back truffle and perigourdine sauce. An excellent way to start 2020 under the best omens.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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