Tuesday 1 January 2013

La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise, Prague.

I was telling a friend of our trip to Prague. "You know the food's not that good there," she said. We knew different. Things have moved on quite a bit in the last ten years. They have two Michelin starred restaurants there, including La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise. I'd seen this restaurant on 'No reservations', Anthony Bourdain's brilliant food and travel show. I was so keen to get into this place that I booked it even before we got a hotel or flight.
We were staying at the lovely boutique Hotel Maximillian next door but one, so we could just wander back to our beds. I was worried we were going to get a cold or flu that's always going around at Christmas. We dosed up on echinacea to ensure 100% fitness.
As soon as you enter La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise it has that air of a seriously good restaurant, low level lighting, focused and courteous staff. We were at the later seating of 9pm so were the last people to take our table. We had a great view of the open kitchen. It was incredible to watch like a well oiled orchestrated machine, quiet and studied.
We were going for the Degustation du chef, an eleven course taster menu inspired by Czech food of the past but clearly rooted in modern techniques.
We decided not to go with the wine taster menu as I'd heard mixed reviews of Czech wines generally, and of course it bumps the price up. Also I maybe alone in this, but I find a wine taster menu can be too much, it can make you too drunk to appreciate the food, and when I'm drunk I tend to wolf food down, which is wasted on Michelin starred food as good as this.

The amuse bouche came; they were stunning little morsels, fried pork skin, dried celery, beef tartar with horseradish chips, 3 sorts of bread arrived. Service was as you'd expect courteous and efficient. There was barely a gap between courses which I liked, bring it on!
Beef tartar with horseradish chips.

1. Lužické hory snails, semolina purée, garlic. I've written 'yummy' on my notes (I'm sure this is not a word Jay Rayner uses) creamy, earthy and sumptuous. 

2. Russian sturgeon caviar, salsify. Delicious, creamy and moussey. We were already blown away.
 3. Straw soup, egg yolk, lokus wine. So lovely, reminding me of a childhood I never had, eating food like this (instead of fishfingers) Christ, I was getting carried away. Luckily I had Mrs Bacon who is always grounded. She was equally impressed.

4. Black truffle, carrot, cauliflower. How the hell could they make a simple carrot taste so bloody good? Black truffle helps obviously.

5. Třeboň catfish, cabbage. A very simple course this, not every dish can be the same note. Flavourful fish, foam and cabbage all working well together.
6. Foie gras, grape juice jelly. This one looks unbelievably dry, like grated cheese or sawdust. But when you put it in your mouth, it's moist and cool, like meaty butter shavings, just mind blowing.
 Your mind cannot work out how they did it. A real show stopper. I offered Mrs Bacon £100 for one last mouthful, she refused, and she is close to a pound note. It's the sort of dish that makes you want to grab every last bit of it in the restaurant and devour it like Gollum and his ring muttering "All mine, all mine!" in the back alleyway.
7. Mnetes lamb, onion, mint. This had an extra twist with mint liquid  working well in the onion skins. It was good but for me, not the star dish.

8. štěpánovsko duck, celery, mustard. Another very nice dish with lovely flavours that worked well together.

9. Beef tongue, yellow pea, apple.  I thought this was the best of the mains. The beef tongue so rich, balancing perfectly with the pea purée. Mrs Bacon loved it, but she was feeling stuffed, so I got extra, and I was still hungry for more.
10. Wagyu kobe style beef, black radish, ginger. The radish was a great texture against the delicate meat.
Then came a cheese course, an unusual runny cheese that Mrs Bacon loved

Chocolate dessert.
11. Dessert was a chocolate mess to be honest. Not up to the standard of the rest of the food, it felt like an after thought.
But I really didn't care. We'd had one of the finest meals of the year. At least up to the standard of L'Enclume but a different unique style. I can see them getting a second Michelin star here.
It's actually worth travelling to Prague to, a wonderful magical city anyway.
This meal will long stay in the memory and it reminds you how good food can be, we felt lucky to experience it.
Last amuse-bouche, reminded me of childhood toffee and marsh-mellow.
It cost us about £215 in sterling for two, with just a few beers, well worth it for food this good.
Service: Incredibly efficient. The best run restaurant I've ever seen.
Atmosphere: Low level lighting, studious but lively.
Food: Best of it's type.
Star dish: Foie gras, grape juice jelly.


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