The conference I was attending in Prague finished on Friday, so I had a day in the Czech capital on Saturday to be footloose and fancy-free. Or, at least, a day to find something in English to read on the flights home and have a few beers. After Skyping the parents and doing some shopping, I wandered along some of the back streets of the Nové Město, or “New Town,” which is so new, it was founded in 1348.
As I strolled in the rain along Voršilská, the precip picked up, and I ducked into a wine bar. The place had a minimalist charm. More importantly, the place had veltínské zelené.
After a couple cups of white, I got to chatting with the couple sitting next to me. He was a MechE, she taught theatre, and both of them spoke English and excused my worse-than-execrable Czech. They lived around the corner and after a hour or two of pleasantries, we got down to brass tacks. No, not their opinion of Obama — that was old news — but rather where to have dinner.
They suggested, practically demanded, that I go to Hospoda U Nováka. So, off we all trooped, half a block down and half a block over to the pub. We arrived to find the joint packed, but the server recognized them immediately and sat me in a booth reserved for locals that was hidden behind swinging wooden doors. Take a look at a panorama view of the place and see if you can find me hiding spot.
This review from the Prague Pubs website hardly does the Nováka justice, as the Gambrinus on tap was poured just right and my dinner was a perfect distillation of Czech traditional cuisine. Czech food doesn’t fly in the same fancy circles as French or Italian, but at its best like at Nováka, it is sublime comfort food. A cut of roast pork utterly surrounded by two types of sauerkraut (white and red) and two types of dumplings (bread and potato). Maybe it’s called vepřo knedlo zelo in Czech, but whatever the name: I call it simple and spectacular.
Feeling a bit tipsy, I headed into the still-drizzly Prague evening, off to the hotel and then to Dushanbe.
Thanks to Jeffrey Martin who took the photo above in September 2005, and who created the linked to panorama as well.