Czech Republic

Restaurants in Prague, Part 2: More Experiences Beyond the Traditional

We had so many great meals during our summer in Prague, that it was hard to narrow them down to a short list of favorites. So, we split them into two blog posts. In our last post, Restaurants in Prague, Part 1 we shared some of our best gastronomic experiences in Prague at restaurants that go above and beyond serving traditional Czech food, either by applying modern concepts to traditional dishes or by embracing a diversity of cuisines. Here in Part 2, we discovered the magic of the Josper Grill, ate lots of fantastic Italian food, had front row seats for a Vietnamese tasting menu, and found that you can actually get great fresh fish and seafood in Prague.


Nejen Bistro

At the Nejen Bistro in the Karlin District, the first thing you see when you walk through the door is the kitchen, which is centered around the Josper Grill.

Nejen Bistro Open Kitchen Prague Czechia

Nejen Bistro Open Kitchen

If you’ve never heard of a Josper Grill, it is an indoor charcoal-fired grill and oven all in one. It is very popular with chefs because it sears food on all sides at high temperatures, sealing in flavor and juices. The team at Nejen Bistro say that they tried a Josper Grill in Budapest and were inspired to make it the centerpiece of their restaurant.

Nejen Bistro Josper Grill Prague

The Josper Grill at the center of the kitchen

The menu at Nejen Bistro is small and seasonal, dominated by meats and seafood cooked in the Josper. Chef Martin Císař is a former butcher, so I can only imagine how much fun he is having with this grill! Actually, we could taste it in the food.

We started our meal on the light side with a unique char ceviche that combined the unexpected flavors of diced turnips, onion, currants, grapes, and cucumbers in a creamy horseradish dressing that both surprised and pleased our palates. It went exceedingly well with the delicate fish.

char ceviche nejen bistro prague czechia

Char Ceviche, Nejen Bistro

Then we were ready for some red meat. The beef heart tartare was a real heart stopper when delivered to the table. The finely diced ruby red beef heart was topped with smoked egg yolk cream (how did they do that?) but wait, that’s not the best part. The tartare was mounded onto a veal bone sawed in half and roasted until the marrow was soft and buttery. Spoon out some marrow and blend it in with the tartare and dive in. This was quite a dish.

beef heart tartar marrow bone nejen bistro prague

Beef Heart Tartar, Nejen Bistro

It’s been a while since we had a nice piece of steak, so we had to try the Maminha, which is a lean cut of beef similar to tri-tip that is well suited to grilling. The Josper Grill left it juicy and tender. The peanut ginger sauce complimented without overpowering the meat. I was almost equally enamored with the grilled zucchini sculpture that the beef medallions rested on. Pretty and delicious.

Maminha steak zucchini nejen bistro prague

Maminha with zucchini, Nejen Bistro

Once we got started with the grilled meats, we went all in and ordered the beef ribs. Twenty-four hours in the Josper Grill had reduced the solid block of meat to unbelievable tenderness. The sauce was an intense blend of mushroom soy and garlic. Some crispy shallots gave our teeth something crunchy to work on, since the meat just melted away in the mouth.

beef ribs crispy shallots nejen bistro prague

Beef ribs, Nejen Bistro

Yes, you could say that we enjoyed every bite at Nejen Bistro. The menu may be small but what they do, they do very well. It’s also worth a “shout out” to mention that the kitchen is open all day. We got there at 2pm, bridging the gap between lunch and dinner and it was no problem.

Nejen Bistro
Křižíkova 24, Prague – Karlín


Taro

I love being entertained while I eat, and it’s even better when that entertainment is my dinner. For me, eating at Taro was more than just a meal…it was an event. Taro opened in the Smichov district of Prague in December 2017 with the idea of serving a new form of sophisticated Vietnamese cuisine. The entire restaurant consists of 17 bar seats arranged around a central prep kitchen. In this “Chef’s Table” layout everyone has a view of the kitchen, like food theatre. We were pleased to see a Josper Grill in the kitchen, know the good things that it promises.

Taro restaurant open kitchen prague

The Chef’s table seating at Taro

The restaurant is run by two brothers: Khanh Ta is the chef and Giang Ta runs operations. They serve a small à la carte menu for lunch, while for dinner they offer either a four-course or seven-course tasting menu. The menu is seasonal and constantly changing. Not wanting to miss anything, we opted for the seven-course menu.

We were welcomed with a non-alcoholic drink of green tea with mango and an amuse bouche of smoked duck. These were followed by a stream of intricately composed and complex dishes. Each dish when delivered was described in extreme detail, which some people might find to be too much, but for me each description was like poetry. First, a deconstructed papaya salad with carrot purée, coriander paper, with panna cotta.

flounder ceviche taro prague

Flounder ceviche, Taro

Then, flounder ceviche that combined sweet and sour flavors, with pickled kohlrabi, passion fruit and puffed rice. Spring rolls of marinated smoked pork and rice noodles were their take on a common North Vietnamese street food.

smoked pork spring rolls taro prague

Smoked pork spring rolls, Taro

The most interesting dish for us was a steamed rice pancake that was topped with shrimp and a foam of lobster bisque. It may not be the most photogenic, but the flavors were bold and I just loved the sound of the spoon scraping against the textured plate as I peeled the spongy pancake away bit by bit.

steamed pancake shrimp lobster foam Taro

Steamed pancake with shrimp and lobster bisque foam, Taro

When our place was set with a sharp knife, we knew that there was meat coming and readied for our main course. We were fascinated with watching the team assemble the plate.

Taro-kitchen-team

The Taro team constructing our main course

The Peking-style duck had been through a lot…it had been marinated, sous vide cooked, and charcoal smoked in the Josper Grill. It was served with roasted kohlrabi, beets, eggplant, and baby spring onions. The layers of flavors on this plate were incredible.

duck kohlrabi beets taro prague

Peking-style duck with kohlrabi and beets, Taro

Our server, Adam, explained that it is Vietnamese tradition to serve soup before a meal to get your stomach ready, and again at the end of the meal to help with digestion. And so we received a steaming hot bowl of vegetable pho with ginger, lemongrass, and shiitake mushrooms. It was intense and spicy. But that wasn’t quite the end.

Taro-grilled-banana

Taro’s take on grilled banana

We finished with Taro’s take on grilled bananas, a typical dessert in Vietnam. The bananas were served with coconut ice cream, chocolate ganache and edible chocolate soil. And I didn’t have to share it!

Taro
Nádražní 100, 150 00 Praha 5-Anděl, Czechia


La Bottega Bistroteka

La Bottega Bistroteka is one of several Italian establishments run by owner Riccardo Lucque, an Italian chef living in Prague. This bistro and deli opened in 2014 in a building/complex called the Dlouhá Gourmet Passage. The idea of the Gourmet Passage is to have multiple high quality gourmet food and beverage establishments in one location; like a one-stop foodie destination. We noticed daily food tours coming through the passageway, especially stopping at the extremely popular butcher shop Naše maso.

 

We were lucky enough to be staying down the street from La Bottega Bistroteka and enjoyed several great meals there, but we would have gone out of our way if needed. The great food and attentive and professional service impressed us at each visit.

The garden pea risotto screamed “summer!” with its bright green color and fresh pea flavor that was infused in the creamy sauce. It was topped with slices of seabream carpaccio, marinated shallots and passion fruit.

green pea risotto seabream carpaccio

Garden Pea Risotto with Sea Bream Carpaccio, La Bottega Bistroteka

The high level of service really shined with the fresh fish. The fish selection varies day to day and they will bring a tray of fish to your table to show you what’s available. Each type of fish is prepared differently. The turbot wasn’t so pretty to begin with (check out his photo below), but cooked in a beurre blanc sauce with potatoes and mushrooms it was amazing. There was no concern about working around the bones in the whole fish, as our server was very accomplished at boning and filleting the turbot table-side.

fresh fish turbot la bottega bistroteka prague

Presentation of the fresh fish. That guy is a turbot…

La-Bottega-whole-fish-tableside

Tableside de-boning and serving of whole fish

The pastas were equally delicious. We loved the simple luxury of the linguine with scallops, chanterelles, and fennel. The tagliolini with beef cheek ragout and shavings of dehydrated ricotta was bold and flavorful, perfect with an Italian red wine.

linguini chanterelles scallops

Linguini with scallops and chanterelles, La Bottega Bistroteka

La-Bottega-beef-cheeks

Tagliolini with beef cheek ragout, La Bottega Bistroteka

Rabbit confit with spinach puree, potato fondant, and grilled wild mushrooms is also worth mentioning as an outstanding main dish. Then there was the ravioli filled with shrimp and shellfish veloute, the beef tartare with burrata foam…I could go on and on.

 

They also have prepared foods for take out and the dessert counter is very tempting. We became addicted to their almond cookies.

La Bottega Bistroteka
Dlouhá 39/39, 110 00 Staré Město, Czechia


Blue Fjord

Blue Fjord is both a fish market and a restaurant. They get fresh fish delivered from around the world every day. You can purchase fish to take home, or have their chefs cook it for you right there in the store for a fee of 55 Kč (about $2.50). There are only three tables, so it is best to make a reservation if you want a guaranteed spot.

blue fjord fish market prague

Blue Fjord Fish Market / Restaurant

It was difficult to choose from the case full of beautiful fresh sea creatures. We selected a whole John Dory fish, since these can be hard to find, and two of the enormous wild tiger shrimp from India from the ice. We then added a side of grilled vegetables to balance it out.

fresh fish blue fjord prague

Fresh fish at Blue Fjord. There is our John Dory in the middle

fresh seafood blue fjord prague

Fresh seafood at Blue Fjord Market. Look at the size of those tiger shrimp!

While we waited for our fish and shrimp to grill, we ordered a bottle of Reisling and an appetizer of crispy fried softshell crabs that came two per order. Nothing fussy about the preparation, just good, meaty, lightly battered crab.

fried soft shell crabs blue fjord market prague

Soft shell crabs, Blue Fjord

We were so excited when this impressive platter of seafood showed up. Everything was seasoned with fresh herbs and the smoke of the grill, letting the super fresh fish flavor come through. The fish was stuffed with lemon, celery, thyme, and other herbs and grilled perfectly. I think this is really the best way to prepare fresh seafood—keep it simple!

grilled john dory fish tiger shrimp blue fjord prague

Grilled John Dory, tiger shrimp, and vegetables at Blue Fjord Fish Market

Blue Fjord
Masná 705/1, 110 00 Staré Město, Czechia

1 reply »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.