Prague is a beautiful city which is let down by two things. It's people are amongst the unfriendliest I've ever met. Maybe they are just tourist jaded, or maybe they are miserable because of the second of the city's deficiencies, the food. It seems that Czech cuisine hasn't progressed at all in the last thousand years or so. If you ever fancy dumplings and mash then I'd head here in a heartbeat, that is one thing they have mastered. Almost anything else however, then forget it. Having said that, I'd heard that a smattering of veggie and veggie friendly restaurants try their best in the circumstances. It was my aim to seek them out.
There's loads of flights to Prague, and if you can, you are best avoiding the weekend as this is a top stag destination, with a plethora of "Gentlemen's Clubs".
MaitreaYou won't find any leather armchairs and ironed newspapers in any of these. In fact you won't find any gentlemen either, judging by the bunches of drunken yobbos singing in the streets. Also, don't make the mistake of thinking it's cheap. It certainly isn't. I found that prices for almost everything were dearer than in London.
Anyway, my first port of call was the Lehka Hlava. Tucked away on a quiet street 400 yards from the Charles Bridge, this is a nice atmospheric cafe style restaurant. I had the cheddar quesadilla, which was passable. Their menu contains Parmesan cheese. I asked if this was the veggie version. "NO", was the reply, "Not everything on the menu is vegetarian". I found this a bit odd considering this was a vegetarian restaurant. It turns out that they use any old cheese, regardless of rennet. They recommended their sister restaurant, Maitrea. I really liked Maitrea, it was roomy, classy and elegant and there seemed to be much more choice than their uglier sister. An added bonus is that "enlightened people" eat free. Unfortunately I wasn't feeling very enlightened, as I'd just been ripped off by a taxi driver, (quite a common occurrence I fear), so I had to pay.
Followers of the "Supreme Master", e.g. Mr Man in Edgware, can usually be counted on to provide good veggie fayre.
Radost FXOne of the latest additions is Loving Hut. This is Vietnamese cuisine in a rather stark, but spotlessly clean cafe. Their specialities are mock meats, and I can recommend the crunchy basket, (mock prawns), but the follow up of mock beef tasted a little odd. Still, lots of choices and everything is vegan.
Dynamo is not fully vegetarian, but they have many veggie choices. I tried the tempeh with mash. This was pretty good, and I remember thinking that this was probably the first place I'd visited that I'd actually make an effort to go back to for the food.
One of the wackiest places to eat is the Radost FX. With funky settees and funkier, "cool" staff I wasn't expecting much from the food, but I was pleasantly surprised. My "meat" balls and mash was very tasty. The decor might not be to everyone's taste but this is worth seeking out for the food.
My final port of call was Country Life. A few of you may remember a branch in London. Well, if your memories are fond ones, and I suspect many are, then this is the place to head for.
Country LifeFor my money the best veggie restaurant in Prague. Simple, wholesome, cheap and tasty.
I did seek out the old "Lotos" restaurant. Sadly this has closed down. When I asked the proprietor of the cafe that had sprung up in it's place, he told me that the "vegetarians" had left 2 years earlier. This was accompanied by the point at head, "they are all nutters" gesture. Also, the "Golden Pear" restaurant, which is acclaimed in various guide books for it's veggie provision, will do you a veggie meal, providing you give them 4 days notice. I joke not. This laughable condescension to us "nutters" by the manager was accompanied by a look which could not have been worse if I'd dropped my pants and taken a dump in his champagne bucket.
If you do go to Prague then as well as all the usual sites you should make an effort to visit the church of Saints Cyril and Methodius, the scene of the last stand of the assassins of Reinhard Heydrich in WW2. A very moving story and a fitting tribute.
To sum up, if you are going to Prague anyway, then I hope this little trip report helps. If you are looking for a foodie destination, then to be honest, look elsewhere.
Finally, if you want a good laugh then go and see the animatronic apostles that appear hourly above the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square. You stand around for ages in a massive crowd, wait with bated breath and then ... well, go see for yourself.
Note: Veggie Places always reviews anonymously, posing as an ordinary customer. If we do divulge who we are, it is always after we have paid in full for food or accommodation.