Tuesday 2 August 2011

Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté Studně, Prague

Located on the fourth and fifth floors U Zlaté Studně Hotel, with a glorious view overlooking the Prague skyline, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté Studně was my choice for my fine dining experience in the Czech Republic. Head Chef Pavel Sapík is a member of Prague’s national team in culinary competitions and has been awarded numerous accolades throughout his career.

I chose to sit on the terrace as it was the first day in three weeks that the sun has come out and the weather had cleared. My table offered 180º views of the city and its amazing architecture. I selected the tasting menu as each individual course sounded delicious and there didn’t seem to be a weak spot. My assumptions proved correct: it was a truly memorable meal.

The amuse bouche was a terrine of duck served with celery puree. Served cold, it was delightful to taste and dainty to eat.

The first appetizer was flame grilled sea scallops with rosé champagne jelly and strawberry carpaccio. I think this may have been my favourite course of the meal even though I enjoyed all the courses immensely. The scallop was served warm and had perfect caramelisation, paired with the sweet cold strawberries and the jelly that burst with flavour on the palate – it was faultless.

The second appetizer was duck liver terrine "foie gras" with muscat-caramel jelly and homemade brioche. The use of jellies two courses in a row was a little surprising but the flavour combination of the muscat and the foie were divine. The brioche was also enjoyable but did feel that the ratio of foie to brioche was not quite right as I needed to use the bread on my side-plate to accompany part of the foie.

The fish course was poached halibut in olive oil "lakudia" completed by snow Peas, white asparagus, tomato concassé and topped with coriander foam (poured tableside). The perfect portion size, fish wonderfully cooked, vegetables that still had just the right amount of bite left to them and a velvety sauce that held it all together – sublime.

Prior to the main course, I was given a choice of three sorbets as a palate cleanser: lime, forest berry or orange (which I chose).

The meat course was milk-fed veal "sous vide" with fresh morels a la créme (poured tableside), green asparagus and homemade spaghetti. It was definitely the most tender and succulent piece of veal I can remember eating in recent memory and the morel sauce was heavenly; the type of sauce that leaves you asking for more bread so you can mop up every last drop.

The dessert course was a traditional panna cotta from "tonka" beans served with tropical soup and fresh lychee. It was a simple dish but executed impeccably.

Finally, the petit four which consisted of a sole homemade champagne truffle.

This truly was a meal with no weak courses; the food may not have been avant-garde but I would rather have a perfectly executed meal with consistent high quality than the sometimes hit-and-miss meals that can be had when the chef tries to be too innovative.

Whilst the restaurant is recognized in the Michelin guide, it has not been awarded any stars (as yet). Interestingly, due to the warm and helpful servers and more relaxed atmosphere, I enjoyed his meal more than my 3-star meal at Rochat in Switzerland.

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