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Restaurants & Bars

Praga redux

Mike M | Jun 23, 200303:22 PM

Apologies to anyone who, based on my previous post, may have gone to this place. Return trip this weekend was more or less disastrous. First time there, our waiter was the owner. This time it was an incredibly condescending, pushy, obnoxious waiter. My wife was taking some time (not a lot) making up her mind on a starter, and the guy stands over her making repeated suggestions, with a PT Barnum sales pitch for each one. I finally had to suggest that he might leave her alone for a few minutes. One of the items he pushed hard for was oysters on the half shell. I should have known better--it's June, and the price was $15 for a dozen, but I ordered them. Served nearly at room temperature, they were the sorriest oysters I've ever had--at best, they were tasteless, but I'm afraid there was also an indescribable "off" flavor about them as well. The "pan seared" salmon on a "wild mushroom" "risotto" was grotesquely overdone. It had a texture that suggested an intermediate step in a microwave (defrosting?) and the "pan seared" part seemed to involve a light coating of flour and some variation on frying. The "risotto" was a glutinous pilaf, and I suppose the two or three tiny pieces of brownish stuff might have been wild mushrooms, but if so they were utterly tasteless. Beurre blanc was good, though--altho it wasn't really a beurre blanc. My wife's starter pizza had very good topping: brie, artichokes, terrific red peppers, but the crust was so tasteless and textureless (Wonder Bread's complex by comparison), it made you long for Pizza Hut. Wine list is still very good and reasonably priced, and the outdoor-under-the-trees dining area is very pleasant. The only solution I can think of is 1) stay away or 2) buy your food elsewhere and order only a bottle of wine al fresco--but I don't think that would fly, so it's back to 1). The waiter's behavior cast an ugly pall over the whole evening, but in a way that was merely a distraction. Had we not had to deal with him, we'd have only paid more attention to the sub-par food.

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