Chanoy Honeymoon: Prague, April 2016

Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this post.

The greatest pleasure I took in visiting Prague was simple – just wandering the streets, taking in the architecture and atmosphere. That’s where I think Prague really shines as a tourist destination. While it’s popular with younger travellers for its cheap beer and notoriously messy pub crawls, the range of different architectural styles that pepper the city means that you can find something beautiful down every street.

Art Nouveau plays a large part in the city. Gold gilding, frescoes, mosaics and colours decorate buildings, creating a scene of real beauty often at the top of buildings where you may not normally look. And these art nouveau buildings may sit right beside a building following the Neo-Classical style with Greek columns, which might itself be next to a Brutalist Communist-era grey monstrosity.

This blending of different architectural styles is the type of city planning that one would never find in Australia. That’s what makes a visit to Europe so fascinating for someone like me who enjoys looking at different building features!

Not into art and architecture? You can take part in Prague’s famous nightlife culture with its multiple beer halls and pub crawls as I mentioned earlier. Why not join the Czechs in drinking an estimated 214 litres of beer every year?

If that’s not your scene either, the food scene in Prague is surprisingly excellent. While there’s still the cosy neighbourhood pubs like Vidlicky A Noze and Atmosphere Cafe Pub, there’s a burgeoning group of higher-end restaurants like Alcron that are delivering truly unforgettable dining experiences.

None of that sounds appealing? Just take it easy. We had an extremely relaxing time while there, whiling away a few hours in the local parks looking at the cherry blossom trees and climbing to the top of a hill for a view over the city. Once you get tired out, you can visit one of the few Thai massage parlours in Prague. We did that and paid only $128 AUD for a two-hour massage each…that works out to be only $32 an hour! It’s an absolute bargain by Australian standards, so why not treat yourself?

Prague may be small but it does have quite a lot to offer. Europeans, make it your next long weekend destination, and everyone else…give yourselves a few days in Prague if you ever visit Europe!

Review: Vidlicky A Noze, Prague, Czech Republic

You guys know about my love for Hong Kong-style diners right? The food is never that great, but it’s always cheap and plentiful. The ambiance and service might not be fantastic, but it’s always efficient and designed to get you in and out as fast as possible. Most importantly, they always evoke a sense of nostalgia for me, and I tend to reflect back to primary school days when my father used to pick me up from school and take me to a diner for afternoon tea. Special daddy-daughter time as it were.


I always thought the Hong Kong diner was a unique concept – at least until we visited Vidlicky A Noze in Prague. While it’s technically a ‘proper’ restaurant offering a full menu of traditional Czech dishes, most of the locals who visit order off their menu of five or six daily specials, all priced under $6 AUD a dish.

Like in a Honky diner, we watched groups and individuals all enter, order quickly after a quick glance at the specials, get served their meal in under five minutes, eat in under ten minutes, and then pay and leave. Done and dusted in under half an hour. Quick and efficient, the Cantonese way.

Home-made lemonade with mint and with elderflower, 40 Czech Koruna each
Home-made lemonade with mint and with elderflower, 40 Czech Koruna each

We took a bit longer though, and lingered for a while over the menu as we needed the waitress to translate the specials (written in Czech only) into English for us! While we perused the menu, we had some drinks to start – a Homemade Lemonade with Mint for me, and Homemade Lemonade with Elderflower for K. For some reason, K’s lemonade was carbonated and subsequently more refreshing, while mine was particularly flat and a bit too sweet on the palate. I’m not sure why they were made differently!

Grilled pork steak with caramelised onions and french fries, 92 Czech Koruna
Grilled pork steak with caramelised onions and french fries, 92 Czech Koruna

We decided to ignore the main menu and copied the locals in ordering off the specials. I chose the Grilled Pork Steak, served with caramelised onions, gravy and french fries for only $5 AUD. A real bargain, and surprisingly delicious though not particularly nutritious. The pork was nice and tender with a smoky grilled flavour, the onions were sweet and the crunchy fries were delicious dipped in the salty gravy. A real comfort meal.

Chicken cooked in paprika with pasta, 85 Czech Koruna
Chicken cooked in paprika with pasta, 85 Czech Koruna

K’s was a little less inspiring – Chicken in Paprika with Pasta. The chicken pieces were a little dry and overdone, and the sauce lacked that true paprika heat. Not quite the dish he hoped for, but that’s the risk you run with the cheap daily specials! He should have figured it out from looking at what the locals were eating though. Plenty of them had chosen my dish, but no one else seemed to have chosen the pasta. When in doubt, follow the local choices!

Grilled vegetables, 55 Czech Koruna
Grilled vegetables, 55 Czech Koruna

Feeling guilty about the number of carbs and rich sauces we had consumed with our meals, we ordered some Grilled Vegetables to share to vary our diet slightly. Not quite as nice as the ones that K had ordered at Atmosphere Cafe Pub, these vegetables hadn’t been grilled quite enough. For example, the sweetness hadn’t really come out of the capsicum properly – an extra minute on the grill could have brought it out!

Traditional homemade strawberry dumplings with cottage cheese and strawberry dip, 69 Czech Koruna
Traditional homemade strawberry dumplings with cottage cheese and strawberry dip, 69 Czech Koruna

We finished off our meal by sharing the Homemade Strawberry Dumplings, served with cottage cheese, strawberry coulis and powdered sugar on top. It was a surprisingly large serve – definitely a dessert best shared between two people. These dumplings were delicious though, kind of like a cross between delicious soft but dense brioche, but with the syrupy goodness of Greek loukamades. With a poached strawberry inside each dumpling simply oozing sweet syrup, you really can’t go wrong!

While you can order typical Czech dishes like duck confit, goulash or roast pork at Vidlicky A Noze, you shouldn’t. If you want to eat like the locals, you need to order from their simple daily specials menu. Food is cheap and plentiful, and if you order by referring to what others are ordering, you can’t go wrong! Not one to rush to when in Prague, but worth dropping in if you like cheap and cheerful meals.

Vidlicky A Noze is located at 93/11 Vodni in Prague, Czech Republic.

Review: Alcron Restaurant, Prague, Czech Republic

Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this post.

Here’s something I didn’t know before this trip – Prague boasts three Michelin-star restaurants. I always thought of it as a somewhat run-down former Soviet-bloc country that was still finding its feet, proud of its hearty beer-swilling and roast pork food culture. Who would have thought that the burgeoning fine dining scene is one to watch as well?

Once I started looking into the different options though, there was one that stood out as the ideal place for us to celebrate K’s 31st birthday – Alcron Restaurant. They had fabulous reviews of course, but the intimacy and decor of the restaurant was what appealed. Seating only 24 guests, the small Alcron Restaurant in the Radisson Blu hotel in Prague is decorated with a large mural in an Art Deco style, evoking memories of the glamourous 1920s and 1930s.

I made a lunch reservation for the two of us on his birthday, and kept the destination a secret from K. “It’s a nice restaurant!” was the only hint he received from me. Luckily it proved to be a happy surprise!

Greeted warmly by the waiter and shown to our cosy corner table, the excellent service continued throughout the meal. Served alternately by the head waiter/sommelier and a blonde waitress, we enjoyed conscientious but not overwhelming service with a smile. Recommendations on both food and drink options by both staff were right on point, and they were both well-versed on introducing and explaining the different menu items when they brought the dishes to the table. It was the type of exemplary service that really sets a high-end restaurant apart from others.

This expertise was demonstrated with their drink recommendations. I asked the sommelier about non-alcoholic cocktails and he offered the option to have one mixed specifically to my tastes. With the request of something a bit fruity and a bit refreshing, he came back with a wonderful mocktail made up of a sweet cherry base with a spritz of citrus to freshen it up, with the tasting notes exactly as requested. The chardonnay he recommended to K (2014 vintage from the Piemonte region in Italy) was similarly excellent.

So what did we eat?

We started with bread and butter – but this wasn’t a simple choice! We had the option of choosing from a selection of breads including spinach, onion, pumpkin seed, tomato and olive amongst others. These were served with a selection of chilli butter, seaweed butter, lemon butter and normal butter – my pick was the salty umami seaweed butter which went a treat with the sweeter onion bread.

We also had a complimentary amuse-bouche of Celery Multi-Ways courtesy of the kitchen. In this little dish, the celery was baked with honey, creamed with vanilla and turned into crisps as well – the different methods turning a boring vegetable into something quite extraordinary.

Now here’s the extraordinary thing about Alcron Restaurant that sets it apart from other starred restaurants – you can order as you go. They encourage you to only order one or two courses at a time, so that you can structure your meal as you listen to what your stomach’s telling you. Had a cold seafood starter and now want a hot meat-based main? They can organise that. Want to finish off with a light vegetable dish, rather than dessert? You can do that too – just order each course as you go, and listen to what your body wants.

So for our first dishes, I ordered the Tuna Sashimi with Tapioca, Daikon and Parsley Mayonnaise and K ordered the Quail Breast and Rillettes with Truffle and Rosehip. The tuna tartare with a dab of the wasabi mousse was a real highlight of my dish, and I always enjoy lotus root chips as well. K’s quail breast was remarkably tender and juicy, and he went quite wild over the rich liver pate base of the dish.

We went on to have a seafood main dish each – Seared Sea Scallops with Cauliflower Puree, Roasted King Oyster Mushrooms and Lardo Si Colonata for me, and the Catch of the Day with Yellow Pea Puree, Scallop, Roast Potatoes, Mushrooms and Chicken Jus for K. The scallops were remarkably fat, plump and juicy, aided I’m sure by the melting fat of the lardo that was blow-torched over the scallops at the table! K’s fish had a wonderfully crispy grilled skin, but the real highlight were the crispy crunchy potatoes on the side. On the whole however, I found his dish a little too salty – too much chicken jus perhaps.

After our first two courses, we were both feeling quite full – K more so than me as his catch of the day was quite large. I decided to go on to order one more small savoury dish (the waiter was able to guide me to a smaller-sized offering) for myself – the Organic Goat’s Cheese with Baked Leeks and Beets. I loved the firm globes of goat’s cheese ice-cream with thin slices of radish and sweet baked leeks and beets, beautifully presented in a spring-like wreath.

We finished our meal (or so we thought!) with the Cold and Hot Textures of Valrhona Chocolate and the Marinated Pear with Malt and Nougat for dessert. I loved the different textures of my dessert, with fudge, mousse, caramel crisps, ice-cream and crumble all making an appearance. The real highlight was the salted caramel ice-cream though – I’m a salted caramel fiend! K enjoyed the malt elements of his dessert, with the crisps in particular reminding him of childhood days drinking Horlicks.

Now we thought that was the end of our meal, but as we sat at our table happily sipping our tea (fresh mint for me, Earl Grey for K), the waiters came out with a surprise birthday cake for K! I had forgotten that I’d mentioned a birthday celebration when I made the reservation, but the restaurant hadn’t and had prepared accordingly with not only the cake, but a gift of a bottle of their Alcron house wine for us to take home to enjoy as well. Now that’s superb service – thank you Alcron Restaurant!

Alcron Restaurant proved to be a superb choice for K’s birthday celebrations. Not only do they offer superbly crafted modern European cuisine, they do so with a customer-focus, allowing the customer to really craft their meal according to however they’re feeling. It was a wonderful experience, and one I would recommend to anyone who visits Prague!

Alcron Restaurant is located in the Radisson Blu Alcron Hotel, at 40 Stepanska in Prague, Czech Republic.