Thursday, November 6, 2008
Ode to Dumplings - From the Czech Republic
Budvar Restaurant - Praha 6, Aviaticka 1092/8
224 24 25 77
Prague, Czech Republic
This is going to be my last Honeymoon adventure story, as I think I touched upon all areas of our trip--except for Eastern Europe. Despite the fact that the below experience happened very close to the Prague airport, (you must think..."how authentic can that be?") it was pretty awesome.
The back story is that we had about a four hour layover between Prague and Kosice--my home city. We tried to see the city of Prague in between but the timing just didn't work out so we resorted to checking out the airport vicinity.
We immediately found a hotel with a pretty cool, authentic Czech restaurant called Budvar--also stands for a Budweiser-type beer. Budvar is a Czech beer that's sold in the U.S. under the name Czechvar because of trademark limitations. Anyway, we were excited to try some authentic beer and good, hearty and not to mention, starchy foods.
The ambiance was nice and also modern--everything had a sleek, red and gray motif and besides me knowing that I was near the airport, you really couldn't tell by the look of it. The minimalist bar had a couple of impressive bottles of liquor on display but the overall look was very clean and uncluttered. It put us at ease after travelling almost the entire day.
We were looking forward to a warm, cooked meal. Looking through the menu, a lot of the "Americanized" dishes like steak and seafood looked very expensive. However, we didn't come here for that. We wanted the most basic, peasant-ey, Czech food they had to offer. Finding the dishes that we craved under the "student's section," we noticed how inexpensive they were, which made us happy. Dan ended up getting the beer goulash and I got the svieckova (or beef tenderloin in cream sauce). Here's more...
Beer Goulash - Dan made a wise choice with this one. The meat was so incredibly tender that you barely needed to use your knife. The beef/beer sauce that came with it was hearty and wonderful to dip your "knedlik" or dumplings into. Which brings me to describe more goodness...the dumplings! There were two different kinds, one of which I've never tasted before. The first one was your traditional dumpling that was airy and bread-like while the second one was thick and potato-ey and also contained chewy bacon bits. The latter was obviously my favorite--me loving bacon so much--and Dan agreed. In spite of the huge portion that you see above, we made it disappear in minutes.
Svieckova (Beef Tenderloin in Cream Sauce) - Another meaty dish, this was my choice and it definitely hit the spot. I liked it very much but it didn't compare to the amazingness of Dan's meal. The meat was flavorful but there wasn't much of it--probably because it was tenderloin, which is expensive both here and abroad (thanks for that tid-bit Mom). However, there was plenty of fantastic beef cream sauce and dumplings. I was able to polish most of them off and drench them in the beefy concoction. There was also a dollop of whipped cream and cranberry sauce on top of the meat, which I've never seen before. It tasted great but I didn't know what it was doing there--it almost seemed like they were trying to Americanize it. All in all, it was wonderful and I gladly demolished my portion.
Service and Cost:
Our waiter was wonderful and very charming. I was able to speak broken Czech to him (it's similar to Slovak but not entirely) and he appreciated that. He also spoke English quite well, which pleased Dan, although he was trying his luck with Slavic words. Our dishes came out very quickly--much appreciated during our hungry state.
The costs at Budvar were just too good to be true. For 2 large entrees, 2 large beers and 2 teas (I was sick), we only paid about 350 Czech Crowns or about $18. Unheard of, I tell you! If you ever find yourself stuck at the Prague airport, I urge you to go there.