In May, Mr HH and I made a quick dash across to Prague to scope it out…before we move there in August! We are extremely excited (and also terrified of how much packing awaits us). When I returned to the UK from 2.5 years in Hong Kong, I thought I was hanging up my travelling cloak. But of course, my feet began to itch again. I’m delighted to be on the move again, but it’s a million times better to be going with my funny and fearless best friend, intrepid adventurer that he is. It’s going to be his first time living abroad, and his giddiness at his first taste of life outside the UK is positively contagious.
And I’m pleased to say that Prague looks like a good place for a vegan! During our short stay I managed to visit a few vegan eateries, and fit in an impressive amount of cake (I was alone, my feet hurt, I had a good book, those things all point to sitting down with some cake).
My favourite place was Moment, a small, 100% vegan cafe not too far from the city centre. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (or, to allow my northerness out: breakfast, dinner and tea)…and also for cake. The breakfasts are pretty special: I had the pancakes, and my fellow had the omelette. Look how much cream there is with those perfect little chocolate chip pancakes! Surely I’ll be justified in having them every weekend? The omelette was also tasty. The menu said there would be spinach, but instead it was full of potato, mushroom and aubergine. Not a bad substitution, eh?
There was also one of the most tempting cake counters I’ve ever seen (second only to Oh La La in Berlin, I think). It was difficult to choose, but I went for this peanut butter chocolate chip beauty. It was delicious sponge, the icing was just sweet enough, and the chocolate chips were densely packed and lovely. But there were some sneaky raisins hiding in there too! I don’t mind a raisin in a carrot cake, but with peanut butter and chocolate chips? It didn’t quite fit together.
Another place to visit for cake is Veg Teg, which is not so central, but isn’t far from the river or the Botanical Gardens. It’s a teeny tiny place, with just a couple of stools for eating in, so it’s perfect to pick up a cake and wander to a more scenic setting. When I went in there were three different kinds of cake and a tempeh wrap, everything vegan, along with hot drinks. I had the chocolate orange cheesecake, which was really tasty. My only niggle is that the base was soft rather than crunchy, but still – it was a lovely place, and while I ate the woman who worked there chatted with me about all the great vegan places in the city.
In fact, she recommended Plevel, which has two locations, one about ten minutes away from the famous clock at the heart of the city. We went there for an evening feast, and decided to go the whole hog and have a three course meal. The menu is really tempting (again, it’s an all-vegan establishment), and we struggled to narrow down our choices. My beau chose the portobello rolls. Can you see them in the picture above? The rolls themselves were miniscule, and the plate largely consisted of salad, so he was a little disappointed. I went for the raw spring rolls, which turned out to be gigantic and better suited to a main course. Of course, I nobly struggled on, and they were delicious.
I actually preferred them to my main course, the beetroot burger. It was problematic from the start, because I couldn’t physically take a bite without unhinging my jaw. After watching me struggle for a while, Mr HH advised just to eat it with a knife and fork like a loser. So I tried. And I failed: the bread was too dense to cut through. So I discarded the top bun and ate the burger and bottom bun with a knife and fork and I felt like a failure. Cutlery for a burger?! On the plus side, the menu said it came with a baked potato, which had me a little perplexed. This turned out to be delicious wedges, and I managed to eat those in the traditional manner.
My fellow definitely came up trumps in the mains though, with his Czech speciality of mixed nut ragout, creamy sauce and semolina gnocchi. He found the gnocchi a bit too doughy, but the nutty dumplings and smoky sauce were really delicious. I’ll definitely try this one when we go back.
Usually we try to get two different desserts to share, unless there’s a clear winner on the menu. That was the case in Plevel, where we each ordered a banana caramel cake. It was probably the best cake of the holiday: sticky and sweet, with a lovely coconutty base. Highly recommended! The staff at Plevel were absolutely great, and they do a good range of vegan alcohol too. The central branch is located in a little shopping centre, but it retains a nice atmosphere and is somewhere I’m looking forward to going back to.
Another eatery near the Old Town Square was Maitrea. This gets great reviews on HappyCow, but I was less than impressed with it. Our experience was worsened by the fact that we were seated downstairs in extremely close proximity to a group of three which included the loudest man in the world. Really. He was bellowing away in Italian to his two companions, and we could scarcely hear each other. Fortunately, after sharing a nacho plate, he left the ladies to it and they audibly breathed a sigh of relief along with us, and we all got back to normal conversations. But even without him I would have been somewhat underwhelmed by it. The decor is so lovely, and the prices are pretty high, but the quality and creativity of the dishes just didn’t quite match the implied fanciness. The vegan dishes in particular seemed a little uninspired. I had the udon noodles with duck and vegetables – the mock meat was lovely, the noodles were beautifully thick and the seasoning was perfect…but noodles, protein and veg? I felt like I could have made something equally tasty at home for at least half the price. (Mr HH had his only cheese of the holiday at this meal, so no pictures of his, but he shared my general sentiment.)
A much better place in terms of value for money was my old friend, Loving Hut. I first encountered Loving Hut in Hong Kong, where I used to enjoy cheap, tasty food while watching propaganda videos of the Supreme Master, alongside poems from the perspective of a pig about to be slaughtered. It’s basically run by a cult leader…but the food is good! I went for the pay-by-weight lunch buffet, and coughed up 148kr for this plate of treats: the biggest piece of deep-fried cauliflower I’ve ever seen, a spring roll, tofu omelette, chicken and veg and the most tender, delicious aubergine imaginable. There are quite a few branches dotted around the city, all with a lunch buffet, so whatever my feelings on the Supreme Master, I think it’s safe to say I’ll be back.
Finally, over the bridge and high up the hill towards the castle, we found another fancy three course experience in LoVeg. Not only do you have to climb up the hill, you also have to toil up a few flights of stairs. It’s worth it, though: it’s a warm, cosy restaurant with great service and even better food. I started off with the bruschetta, which had wonderful flavours and a tasty cashew cheese. My fellow tried the avocado tartar and reported that it was good, albeit extremely garlicky.
We both chose the same main course, because we were keen to try a veganised version of the Czech national dish, svíčková. I didn’t really enjoy it, but that’s because of the original dish, rather than how it was cooked here. It’s just not my kind of thing, but I’m glad I tried it. The dumplings are sliced like baguette, and are very doughy. The meat is smoky and delicious, and the root veg and cream sauce is quite rich. The cranberry sauce on top is simply not for me. It was such a strange combination of flavours, and was extremely heavy.
Which is not to say we couldn’t fit in dessert, of course! I tried the carrot cake, which was nice, but I really should have been bold enough to stick with the dumpling theme: they were sweet and delicious, with their red fruit sauce and sticky icing sugar. We were really delighted to have the opportunity to try both sweet and savoury Czech specialities.
After so much good eating, I wish we could afford to eat out every night when we live there! But even when we settle in to normal life and a daily routine, it will be comforting to know that there is a thriving vegan scene out there, and plenty more to explore. There are only a few weeks left until we make the move, and we’ll definitely be celebrating our arrival with more vegan cake.