Etnosvet is one of the fancier meat-free options in Prague, and is always my first choice for special occasions. It serves predominantly vegetarian food, with a few vegan options. The prices are steeper than most in the Czech Republic, but it does have a really nice atmosphere and great service. It’s in a similar vein to Maitrea and Lekha Hlava, though in my opinion it is significantly better than those two. The menu is smaller, and the options are more impressive.
Vegan options are marked on the menu, and there are four starters to choose between. Both times I’ve been, I’ve gone for the coconut tempura. The coconut is a bit of an afterthought, to be honest – there is some sprinkled on the chopping board, and there might be some in the batter, but it’s difficult to detect. There’s a variety of vegetables coated in batter and, best of all, two generous chunks of battered tofu. The trio of dipping sauces are also spectacular, and I say this as someone who rarely likes sauces. There’s a peanutty one, a gloopy BBQ one and a spicier tomato based one. Sublime!
We branched out a bit last time and tried the rice paper rolls too. They were also delicious, especially with the dipping sauces mentioned already.
Main course options aren’t quite so enticing. There are two options, plus a tagine for two to share. Maybe I’m alone in this, but I’d never order a tagine in a restaurant except from a Moroccan place. I’ve made lots of tagines myself, and I think it’s a hard dish to really elevate. That just leaves the mock Peking duck pancakes and the sesame smoked tempeh. For my first visit, I had the pancakes and they were spectacular! The duck was good and crispy, and the sauces were again impressive. I was crazy about this.
I’d planned on having it again on my second visit…but they were out of the required ingredients so it was off the menu. I know absolutely nothing about running a restaurant, but there are only two proper vegan options (you might not have anyone to share the tagine with), so I would expect them to have the ingredients for both on a Saturday night. I was pretty disappointed with that. So, tempeh it was. It was really tasty, if a bit dry, and not really as impressive as the pancakes.
And dessert is the worst round for vegans: there are no options. Rather disappointing, no? The first time we went I also enquired about vegan wines and was told that they didn’t know which ones were suitable – hopefully that’s been rectified by now.
Back to the bright side: service is great, it’s a lovely place (more spacious and attractive than Maitrea or Lehka Hlava) and the food is really well-cooked and delicious. They have recently opened a little bistro just around the corner which is all vegan, but mainly does lighter lunches and baked goods. So clearly they know what veganism is all about, and I’d like to see them push for vegan greatness in the main restaurant too.