Nearly perfect in Prague
By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com
2 October 2015
This site is about wine chronicles, including things to chronicle around wine. A perfect case in point is Prague. Well, nothing really is perfect, but …
Just walking along the city’s intimate narrow streets enchants anyone with even a minuscule aesthetic sense, never mind the ultra romantic Charles Bridge, or larger streets like Karoliny Svetle, where my hotel – Eurostars Thalia – is located in the historic city’s first district or Praha 1.
So many nooks and crannies, cultural curiosities. I walked by a cafe named after Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist Rainer Maria Rilke.
It was easy to paraphrase him: Let Prague happen to you, believe me: Prague is in the right, always. Here an old vinyl record shop, there a local fashion store – and plenty of cafes, beer bars and wine bars.
Not to mention some fine looking bistro style restaurants.
One can play it safe – and in glorious style – at the Four Seasons’ Cotto Crudo restaurant right near the Charles University and Charles Bridge. The service? Impeccable. The food? Quite nearly perfect, when one considers the price. I went for a 30 euros lunch special, including tip, for excellent in season chanterelles with creamy potato (not quite puree) in a Topinambur soup.
This was followed by succulent rouget fish with aubergine slices and aubergine cream, very subtle and tasty. The breads were superb, too – three kinds – including a wafer thin crispy bread rather irresistible. Very attentive (but not stilted or overdone) staff. Naturally welcoming.
Why is that (still) so hard to find in restaurants in France?
Often that is the case in Michelin-rated establishments where service is stiff, food expensive and not always so memorable. Well, I digress.
As you can see in the above video, I also discovered a pretty tasty Czech Pinot Blanc, which I enjoyed for lunch.
This post will be updated when I join Lukash Janushka, a Facebook pal in real time for the first time, in Prague for a visit to the Vinograf, which seems by all accounts an excellent wine bar with both international and Czech choices.
Why in Prague?
I came to Prague thanks to my day job as a media relations manager for the Council of Europe, where I was trying to drum up interest for a useful conference on integrity in education. Participants announced a new network of educators who would work Europe wide against plagiarism, “diploma mills” and other nefarious activities associated with academics.
We got decent coverage, including local reports like this one, in part thanks to news relevant to the conference raising headlines in Germany, where Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has denied accusations of plagiarism. One of the plusses to such events outside of the Council of Europe base, in Strasbourg, France, is the cultural aspect to such gatherings.
Participants hold important discussions during the day but often enjoy a fine dinner and a cultural event. Such was the case in Prague. Singers Jan Moravek and Marek Valasek along with a melodious orchestra and a mixed choir of the faculty of education of Charles University enchanted us with tunes from Antonin Dvorak and Jan Hanus.
The dinner was tasty, as well, more or less an international buffet including broiled salmon and roasted vegetables. Although the Czech Chardonnay proved rather marginal, the ambiance was so pleasing – dining in a cavernous basement under gently sloping stone arches – I enjoyed that too. So much depends on the situation…