Welcome to Prague, the land of Pilsner Urquell, meat and potatoes, damn good cocktails (and abinsthe) and of course, Zdenek Kastanek. Here are my list of food and drink highlights on my short trip to this beautiful eastern European city.
If you want the typical Prague beer and food experience, look no further than the famous U Fleku. Make sure to grab a table outside on the back patio, where you will feel like you are part of a scaled-down Oktoberfest party. U Fleku feels a monastery, situated in an ancient building with many medieval style rooms. While you eat, you will be treated to music from an old accordion player and monks singing old Czech songs while throwing back beers with the patrons. The menu has a typical Czech assortment of duck, pork, goulash, sausages and chicken, served with dumplings, potatoes, and cabbage. The food is very good although I expected slightly larger portions.
U Fleku brews its own dark beer on the premises and it is very good. They also have a dude who brings around strange shots of Czech liqueur. Although this is clearly a tourist trap and feels a bit like a gimmick, it's worth a stop - you will have good (but heavy) food, great beer in a fun atmosphere.
Outstanding Thai restaurant with beautiful Czech waitresses. I had serious doubts about this place given that I didn't see any Thai clients or staff here. The first mixed appetizer dish didn't change this prejudgment: fusion dumplings, Chinese spring rolls, odd sushi ...thankfully the papaya salad was great.
I was ready to write this place off until the mains arrived. We tried various outstanding curry dishes (green curry chicken, red curry with beef, prawns with curry). Amazingly, the dishes were actually spicy! If you skip the starters, this place rocks.
Beautiful modern cocktail bar with two narrow spaces above and below ground. The sister bar to Hemingway, at Cash Only the focus is on simple but inventive drinks. Although the bar staff don't have the skill and experience of the boys at Hemingway, they executed top calibre drinks. Highlights were a barrel aged martinez and boulevardier. Also nice were the aviation and sazerac. The staff are super friendly and I would happily return my next time in Prague.
Although I had a crucial powerpoint to deliver the next morning, I couldn't pass up an after dinner drink at Hemingway Bar, previously ranked 24th on the prestigious World's 50 Best Bars list, Hemingway is named after the famous american drinker (and writer). Ernest would have surely enjoyed a drink at this beautiful bar, which is split over two floors. On the bottom floor, the bar has more of a casual pub feel while upstairs, you will be treated to a more elegant speakeasy style environment. Other than delicious drinks made by world class bartenders, Hemingway bar has amazing background music that covers every possible genre of music, but somehow every song fits the mood of the dark and intimate space.
The cocktails were phenomenal. I tried the Mezcal Martinez which after one sip convinced me Hemingway belongs on the top 50 list. Mezcal, Luxardo, Dubonnet, Angostura and bacon. The bacon aroma and flavor profile matched beautifully with the Del Maguey mezcal and maraschino.
Perhaps the most original tastes of the night were found in the Smoked Passion cocktail ordered by Toney, photographer for Questa Mia Milano. The Mezcal-based drink was pleasantly sour, thanks to the fresh lemon juice, balanced with a sweet passion fruit puree. The cocktail had a wonderful mouth-feel thanks to the egg white top.
Last up, we couldn't resist trying some delicious Czech absinthe, served in the traditional manner with a slow mix of water (3 parts water to 1 part absinthe). We tried the St. Antoine with dissolved sugar and the La Grenouille with no sugar. Both were wonderful and I had some pleasant hallucinations as I prepared my conference presentation later that night.
Next time I'm in Prague, I will also try Black Angel’s Bar, a bar that was helped launch by Zee himself.