This trip report goes back-to-back with my Vienna Trip Report from a separate thread.
My wife and I arrived on a Wednesday in Prague via train from Vienna – a very pleasant 4+ hour ride which, in case anyone is considering it, I’d definitely do again. After arriving at our hotel – the Augustine Hotel , a wonderful place that I’m happy to vouch for in all respects – we tried to book dinner reservations at a couple spots we’d read about on CH. Same-day tables were not available at either Lokal (Dlouha) or Sansho (although I did go ahead and get a table there for the following night), so we solicited a recommendation from our concierge.
Restaurace Mincovna is a former mint space on the Old Town Square, and serves traditional Czech food. I had a rabbit pate starter (Pic #1) and the barbecued short ribs; my wife enjoyed traditional Czech soup and a roasted duck breast with sweet potato au gratin. We thought all our courses were really outstanding – high quality hearty food, and a lot of it! Ambience was fresh yet comfortable, as the dining room opens to a bar area in an adjacent room. Service was very friendly with very good English. We didn’t have reservations but it looks like they’re available online – not sure if they’re necessary but I would encourage you to get one, if only to ensure you make it to this restaurant. Its location might lead you to think it’s a tourist trap but we found it to be anything but. To top it all off, 2 starters, 2 entrees, 4 (or was it 5?) Czech beers, healthy tip … $41 total. All around just a great meal!
Thursday we spent walking around the Castle area, and with our hotel also being in the Mala Strana we decided to just walk in to the Lokal at U Bílé kuželky. Again no reservations, and based on our inability to get a table at the Dlouha location the night before I feared we might have to wait, but at 1:30 pm on a Thursday we walked right in. We were only looking for a quick lunch at that point, but wanting to try Lokal based on what we’d read on CH, we gave it a shot. My wife and I shared two different sausage varieties plus a fried cheese; she had mulled wine and I had a nice cup of mead. The food was all fine and good, nothing to rave about in my opinion, although again this may be unfair because we certainly didn’t sit down for a lengthy ‘Lokal experience.’ It was a comfortable place and I’d return, just not a highlight for me.
Thursday night we walked from the Augustine across the Old Town to Sansho – a very small dining room that seats maybe 40 people. We were given the last 2-top, although were offered to sit community-style with another couple at a 6-top. As has been mentioned on CH, Sansho basically offers a fixed menu for the night, 6 courses to share, slightly Asian-inspired, for around $50/person. They started with a Salmon scallion sashimi (Pic #2), then progressed through clams with beef tendon, tea-smoked trout, soft shell crab sliders, pork belly, pork penang and beef rending with papaya slaw and jasmine rice (Pic #3), and finishing with sticky toffee pudding and caramel cheesecake. We also ordered a cocktail to start, and then asked our waiter to recommend wine pairings with each course (essentially our own wine menu), which worked very well with the mostly local Czech wines. Even with these add-ons I think our meal totaled less than $160 which I thought was a good value (albeit not the steal that Mincovna was). All told this was a very fun and interesting meal, a break from the traditional Czech beer hall and heavy dishes. Having eaten at Konstantin Filippou and Steirereck in Vienna just days earlier I think I’d been spoiled in the way of ambitious and interesting food pairings and presentation, but certainly Sansho is a gem in Prague and I would very much recommend it.
Another day of wandering around Prague, on Friday we stopped in for lunch at Restaurace V Kolkovne, just north of the Old Town Square. This is a traditional-yet-updated beer hall with again a good number of standard Czech dishes and beers. The space is very big – a large dining area downstairs as well – and we had no troubles getting a table. We shared the sheep cheese spread, then I had the Moravian ‘sparrow’ and my wife the cabbage pancakes (which I preferred to my order). We were happy we stopped in for one last full and hearty Czech meal and this is a good spot if that’s what you’re looking for, it just wasn’t outstanding or too memorable in any distinct way.
Overall, dining in Prague to us had a very different feel from Vienna (and this may already be obvious to many or most); Vienna seemed to have more ‘foodie’ offerings, while Prague allows you to focus on local traditional dishes in corresponding atmospheres. Sansho was a great way to diversify from the Czech norm, and to us Mincovna was the overall winner with great food and exceptional value. Again thanks so much to those who’d provided information on these boards, as it was invaluable to our experiences in both cities!