If you’ve never been to the Czech Republic, you’ve probably never tried Czech cuisine. I’m not sure that there’s much international demand for it – the traditional dishes are all quite meaty and stodgy, and you definitely couldn’t eat them every day. (Of course, the Czechs still have the cheek to claim that British food is awful. Pfft!) Before I moved to Prague, I’d certainly never tried any Czech dishes, but after three years I’m something of a (vegan) svíčková expert.
This traditional dish pops up quite frequently on the daily lunch menus in places like Incruenti and Moment, but if you want to try this Czech classic , Vegan’s (formerly LoVeg) is the place to go. We had it on our first trip to Prague when we were just scoping it out as a place to live, and have been back for it again several times since. It’s one of those dishes that’s never going to be particularly refined: it’s just big, hearty food, and not the kind of thing you could eat particularly regularly. But it’s good when you’re in the mood for it, with the big dumplings, slabs of tempeh, a root veg sauce and a dollop of cranberry sauce.
There’s another traditional Czech dish on the menu there too – the old Bohemian feast, which is a mishmash of a few different things. How well those things go together is debatable, though. As you can probably tell just by looking, this was a dry plate. There was steamed buckwheat with spinach, plain polenta, puffed barley, baked millet casserole, and one other thing that was not listed on the menu and that I really couldn’t identify. The buckwheat, polenta and barley weren’t particularly flavoursome, and I wouldn’t order this again. Stick with the svíčková!
The traditional Czech dessert is much better: these plum dumplings are just beautiful! In the past I’m pretty sure they came sprinkled with icing sugar which was great for my sweet tooth, but they were still nice without that extra touch.
As if things couldn’t get any more Czech, just look at the view from the balcony! Yeah, that’s Prague Castle up there. It’s always worth booking ahead and requesting a table out on the balcony (weather permitting, obviously – it gets pretty cold here!).
Have I sold you on Czech cuisine? Would you brave the svíčková?