A trip to Prague is like taking a step back in time, and just as the cobbled streets and historic architecture offer a snapshot of the past, so several of the city’s eating establishments conjure up the tastes of long ago. This may be through dishes that focus on classic elements of Czech cuisine, often imaginatively updated for a new era. Yet increasingly this respect for tradition is conveyed in other ways. The menu might be modern, and yet the carefully restored décor, the attention to detail and quietly considered service echo the mood in Eastern Europe a century ago. These selections span a range of different cuisine styles, but one thing is shared – a commitment to creating a little old-world charm.
Informal elegance sums up the essence of dining at Divinis, where chef Zdeněk Pohlreich is famed for a consistent approach that combines Italian cuisine with classic European refinement. Marinated beetroot ravioli and wild boar tenderloin are two of the delicious dishes that adorn the tasting menu, which pairs five courses with individually selected drinks. The à la carte menu also shines, offering simple ingredients delivered well. Examples include marinated pears with pecans and pecorino, veal cheeks with Marsala and octopus with black beans, black olives and Sorrento lemon.
Divinis, Týnská 21, 110 00 Prague, +420 222 325 440
La Degustation is run by Oldřich Sahajdák, a stellar figure in Prague’s culinary scene. All ingredients are sourced from organic farms and local producers, and the result is a celebrated seven-course tasting menu that often takes its cue from classic Czech food from the late 19th century, interpreted in a lighter style. Expect to enjoy dishes such as butter-poached Prague ham, garlic beef tartare and smoked beef tongue interspersed with palate cleansers and soups, and an impressive fine wine selection.
La Degustation, Haštalská 18, 110 00 Prague, +420 222 311234
Aromi serves Italian cuisine in an environment that combines modernity with old-world elegance. With an emphasis on fish and seafood, owner Riccardo Lucque favours high-quality fresh ingredients and organic products from small Italian suppliers. The result is dishes such as crispy octopus with potato velouté and rocket pesto, and spaghettino in clam broth with roasted cherry tomatoes. Aromi has an elegant old-world façade and art deco-inspired interior whose focus is a large table displaying a fantastic selection of cheeses that has become a talking point around the city.
Aromi, Náměstí Míru 6, 120 00 Prague, +420 222 713222
Bellevue combines a 19th-century fairy-tale castle exterior with a modern interior and progressive cooking. Located on the east bank of the Vltava river, with a stunning view of the castle and the Charles Bridge, it has a menu that offers tantalising new interpretations of old-world Czech dining. Dishes include duck in slivovice and beef fillet with fiery horseradish, while the tasting menu features a 63° organic egg with foie gras mayonnaise and wild cod with passion fruit, sweet potato and fennel. The dining experience is matched by the service, considered among the best in the city.
Bellevue, Smetanovo nábřeží 18, 110 00 Prague, +420 222 221443
Café Imperial’s lavish art nouveau interior is as much a part of its appeal as the food. Housed in the Imperial hotel, which was completed in 1914 in art deco style, it offers a memorable setting for everything from breakfast to dinner, with a menu that combines traditional Czech cuisine with signature dishes developed by its chef. These include loin of venison in a port sauce and wild boar with rosehip and wine dumplings. Known for its excellent service, it is equally enjoyable whether visited for coffee and cake, a cocktail or an evening meal.
Café Imperial, Na Poříčí 15, 110 00 Prague, +420 246 011440