Terasa u Zlate Studne: fabulous food overlooking the rooftops of Prague

It’s been a bit quiet on the blog front recently. I’ve been on my travels again and had family to stay, too, so I’ve had a wonderful time showing them around London – one of my absolute favourite things.

Well I’m back on the blog at last and today I’m taking you to a fabulous restaurant in beautiful Prague. Terasa u Zlate Studne is set on high just below the majestic Prague Castle, the stylish eatery is on the fourth floor of the Golden Well Hotel with a terrace looking over the characteristic red rooftops of Prague. Lunchtime spots really don’t get more perfect – it’s the sort of place where the happiness washes over you before you even sit at your beautifully laid table.

On the menu

And then there’s the food. The menu is so exciting to read and when the dishes arrive, they look like works of art. And they taste even better than they look. Seriously. I started with traditional Prague ham served with fine horseradish mousse and beetroot slices. Never has a plate of ham looked so exotic. The tasty little chunks of meat were perfectly matched with the crunch of the beetroot and radish and the bite of the horseradish.

Teresa u Zlate Studne

A beautiful plate of local ham

The scallop ceviche was served atop marinated cucumber with peach curb, peaches and a dollop of black caviar assetra. The freshest of fish that melted in the mouth, rounded off with tasty peach flavours and a salty caviar touch.

Terasa u Zlate Studne

Freshly sweet scallops with juicy fruit and salty caviar

The salad nicoise was made with yellow fin Ahi tuna slices and served with juicy black olives, boiled egg, tomato, crisp lettuce and roasted La Ratte potatoes. A classic salad transformed into a magical plate.

Terasa u Zlate Studne

Tuna nicoise that’s as pretty as a picture

The rich redness of the carpaccio came with creamy foam from ricotta cheese, spring vegetables and lime cucumber jelly.

Terasa u Zlate Studne

Carpaccio: Vivid, rich and beautifully presented

Duck liver terrine of foie gras was served with wonderfully luscious smoked duck breast, marinated chanterelles and wild berries curd. A real indulgent dish served beautifully displayed…again.

Terasa u Zlate Studne

Foie Gras and Brioche – a match made in heaven

Tartar from milk-fed veal was stuffed with goat cheese and accompanied with wild caper and sundried Sicilian tomatoes and a glass egg yolk. A riot of colours and flavours.

Terasa u Zlate Studne

Tastily tender veal tartar

The best array of starters I’ve seen for a very long time – everyone was totally delighted with their choices. And boy were we excited to tuck into our mains.

The signature meal was too good to resist. A generous portion of Royal steak from Argentinian breed Angus was served topped with foie gras, asparagus and baby vegetables on a bed of velvety potato puree with truffles from Piemonte and a Baron Philippe de Rothschild Sauternes Sauce. Wow what a treat – beautifully truffle-y and satisfyingly rich.

Terasa U Zlate Studne

The luxuriously indulgent signature meal

The earthy wild mushroom risotto was a satisfyingly creamy dish.

Terasa

Classically creamy mushroom risotto

I ordered my main course off the starters section as it sounded too good to resist – and what a good decision it turned out to be. The trio of tuna came beautifully presented in six different sections, just to make it easy to know what goes with what. The tartar was topped with a poached quail egg and served with cress, the stunning tataki with white radish and the skewer with teriyaki sauce and pungent wasabi. This could be my favourite dish of the year, which is saying something – I’ve sample plenty!

 

Teresa u Zlate Studne

Spectacular tuna in three forms

And here’s the terrace overlooking the red rooves of Prague. A nicer spot for lunch is hard to find.

Today’s price point

Terasa u Zlate Studne is not the place for a cheap lunch, but it’s certainly good value as the cuisine is fabulous. We paid £390 for a lunch for six which included pre-lunch drinks, two courses and two bottles of wine. Of that the Signature Meal cost £47. A real treat to have.

Terasa u Zlate Studne is at U Zlate Studne 166/4, 11800, Prague, Czech Republic.

Flavour Bastard in Soho for something completely different

Flavour Bastard – now there’s a memorable name for a restaurant. When I recommended some new openings for a night out with friends I think they chose this one purely on the name alone!

A quick perusal of their website also added intrigue when I read their statement. “Take vibrant flavours from around the world, remove rules and traditions, add a bit of mischief and creativity and you have Flavour Bastard – a story of flavours running away from home.”

I like the idea of flavours running away from home, but with no rules or traditions and some mischief added in it all was starting to sound a little chaotic. And the menu certainly makes for interesting reading. Each dish is an adventure and you really don’t know what to expect until the plate is placed in front of you.

This is not always a good thing, though I’m happy to report it works at Flavour Bastard. We had plates of food that seemed to be a mix of many different cuisines that looked and tasted delightful.

Like these doughnuts from the Tiny Plate section (it’s all meant to be food to share), made with white lentils, chorizo and pecorino. Have you ever? Best doughnuts I’ve ever had and don’t they look stunning?

Flavour Bastard: doughnuts

My favourite doughnuts ever

The next section is entitled Small plates – though don’t be alarmed, they aren’t that small. This amazing concoction is smoked goat, pomegranate and frankincense with orange and tarragon. Almost sounds like something from another solar system! I’m quite partial to a bit of goat, though have never had the smoked sort before. It was lovely – very tender and, well, smokey.

Flavour Bastard: smoked goat

Smoked goat with exotic fruity flavours

Egg-related dishes pop up on many menus these days and I’m always surprised at what people combine with the humble egg with amazing results. Today our duck egg was served with triple cauliflower and pickled watermelon. As I recently discovered on my visit to Poland you can pretty much pickle anything – and pickled watermelon is surprisingly good.

Flavour Bastard: duck egg

Duck egg with a cauliflower and watermelon extravaganza

I’ve been having a bit of a mussel run at the moment – sometimes I just feel like them more than others – and today’s were Caribbean-style with jerk spices, rum and scotch bonnet. You see, I told you there were flavours from all over the world to look forward to. The broth was light and spicy, perfect with the sweet plump mussels.

Flavour Bastard: mussels

Mussels with a flavour of the Caribbean

So we’ve enjoyed doughnuts like you’ve never seem before…how about some unique popcorn. This is a dish of roast sweet potato, fennel, yogurt, sunflower seeds and chilli popcorn. Who’d have thought of putting all those ingredients together? It worked – and created a pleasant mix of tastes and textures.

Flavour Bastard: Chilli popcorn

Chilli popcorn adds bite to sweet potato

And now time for dessert. First up the Flavour Bastard version of that Spanish staple – Churros. I’ve eaten my share of these in markets in Spain and today’s offering came with some spectacular rose petal ice cream.

Flavour Bastard: Churros

Churros with incredible ice cream

Then there’s the Mayan-spiced milk chocolate and brownie mousse served with lavender ice cream. I must admit to a growing love for spiced or herby ice creams. This is a seriously rich desert made for true chocolate lovers.

Flavour Bastard: Brownies

The most chocolatey of brownies

This is one chef with some serious imagination. He’s called Pratap Chahal and has previously been at Chez Bruce, Cinnamon Club and Claridges. I reckon there’s a lot of experimenting going on in that kitchen! It’s the sort of restaurant where I’d recommend you hold onto a menu so you can double check your dishes when they arrive – to help place all those ingredients – some of which have probably never been mixed before. I  know that some people find this annoying, today I found it fascinating because, somehow, the combinations worked. Flavour Bastard is certainly memorable – and that’s not just the name.

Flavour Bastard: Room

Start the evening pondering the menu with a glass of sparkling

Today’s price point

The food at Flavour Bastard is very reasonably priced.

We paid £44.50 for our seven dishes, which were plenty for three ladies.

There’s a comprehensive and highly international wine list with reds and whites starting from £20.

Flavour Bastard is at 63-64 Frith Street, Soho, W1.

Copernicus in Krakow for Polish royal cuisine

Today I’m taking you to Poland. To Krakow to be specific. Krakow is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland, dating back to the 7th century. It sits on the Vistula River and  has a well-preserved Jewish Quarter and a stunning Old Town centred around the grand Rynek Glowny (market square).

After the invasion of Poland at the start of World War II Krakow became the capital of Germany’s General Government. In 1941 the Jewish population were forced into a walled area which became known as the Krakow Ghetto and from there they were mainly sent to German extermination camps like nearby Auschwitz (more of which later, yes, I went there and it will always stay with me – an experience I think everyone should have).

There were around 60,000 Jews in Krakow at the start of the war and only 2,000 survived it. Now there are around 1,000 Jewish inhabitants of the city, with about 200 identifying themselves as members of the Jewish community. The Jewish Quarter is charming and there are still seven synagogues there that you can visit.

Across the river is Oskar Schindler’s enamelware plant where he selected employees from the ghetto to work – saving them from the camps. Steven Spielberg told this amazing story in his film Schindler’s List. Roman Polanski is a survivor of the Krakow ghetto, which he luckily escaped from as a small boy.

There’s so much history to absorb as you roam the streets of Krakow. A lot of tragedy, a lot of terrible tales and I could feel it. It’s a sombre experience hearing about mans inhumanity to man.

Having said that it’s a great city to walk around with myriad bars and restaurants to eat at and the locals are some of the most welcoming people I’ve met. So once we’d absorbed as  much history as we could and taken in the sights it was time for dinner.

We headed for the fabulous Copernicus restaurant which is in the Copernicus Hotel – close to the beautiful Wawel Castle. The food is based on Polish royal cuisine, with traditional recipes being taken a creative step into the 21st century.

The restaurant is cosy and intimate and the whole evening was an absolutely wonderful experience. We picked the five-course chef’s tasting menu which we were guided through by our delightful waiter – who even helped me choose some lovely Polish wine. We could have gone seven or even 12 courses – for 12 he advised allowing at least four hours and we weren’t sure we were prepared for that much of a banquet.

Two of the dishes were standard and we had to choose the other three which made it all very manageable. To start this delightful beetroot tartar served with pumpkin and blackberries. They know what to do with their beetroot in Poland – even my brother Frank who admitted to hating the beets before his visit there soon became a fan. A beautifully colourful plate that was bursting with flavour.

Copernicus: beetroot

Beetroot tartar with pumpkin and blackberries

For the second course there was a choice of four. First up this salad of grilled tuna served with avocado, zucchini and pomegranates. A real tasty work of art.

Copernicus: salad

The luscious and colourful tuna salad

The roasted bacon – which was kind of like a belly of pork – came with pear and spring onion mustard. What a wonderful combination – and who’d have thought of using pears to make mustard. Genius.

Copernicus: bacon

Bacon paired with pear mustard

Pierogi (dumplings) can be found everywhere on Polish menus – and very nice they are too. But these were in a league of their own stuffed with tomatoes onion and cider marmalade and served with dry-cured neck.

Copernicus: dumplings

Truly superior Polish dumplings

Copernicus: Sorrel soup

Exotic sorrel soup with caviar

The next communal course was the deliciously exotic sorrel cream soup. Served with a new potato in pride of place in the centre, topped with sturgeon caviar. Can’t say I’ve ever eaten sorrel cream soup, but I definitely plan to again.

The main course also offered four choices. The duck was served with a foie gras terrine, quince jam and kohlrabi. Duck is big in Polish cuisine and I ate it several times on this trip – with great satisfaction.

Copernicus: duck

Duck and foie gras terrine

Copernicus: trout

Brown trout on the creamiest of risotto

The brown trout was served atop a creamy lemon-spiced risotto. Perfectly cooked fish and a melt-in-the-mouth risotto.

I chose the veal dish which was a real masterpiece. Served with sweetbreads, green peas and marinated nasturtiums, this is one of the most luscious dishes I’ve eaten in some time. The perfect balance of flavours and textures and richness. Yum!

Copernicus: veal

Perfectly cooked veal with the richness of sweetbreads

Okay, so when you’ve committed to five courses you simply have to do it. It wasn’t a struggle to be honest – the restaurant got the portion size just right – even though some little added extras were included along the way. There’s was still a little room for something sweet. Apricots were served with cardamom chocolate and lemon meringue. Delicate and tangy.

Copernicus: apricot pudding

The flavours of apricots and cardamoms

Or there was cottage cheese served with mirabelle plums and sea buckthorn sorbet. It tasted as good as it looks!

Copernicus: plum dessert

Plum flavours and sea buckthorn sorbet

I went for the cheese plate and it’s one of the best I’ve had for some time (again!) – the selection from hard, goats and properly stinky (in a very good way!) were served with the most amazing onion and pear mustard.

Copernicus: Cheese

A truly fabulous cheese plate

After such a fabulous dinner we felt we simply had to finish the evening with a vodka! Well, when in Poland… Our waiter recommended which one (it’s a complicated thing choosing vodka here) and served it up chilled in these beautifully dainty little glasses. We were so happy!

Copernicus: vodka

When in Poland…drink vodka

Today’s price point

Our five-course chef’s tasting menu cost 180PLN (approximately £38.50) – drinks not included.

The Winnica Turnau Solaris ’15 (white wine) cost 139PLN (approx £29).

The Winnica Turnau Cabernet ’15 (red wine) cost 149PLN (approx £31).

Copernicus is on Kanonicza Street – Krakow’s oldest street – which winds up to the Castle.

 

The deliciously different taste of Taiwan at Xu

Xu in London’s Chinatown

I’ve been rather absent from the blogosphere in recent days – there’s been a lot going on! I’ve been travelling to new lands and enjoying new food so there’s plenty of interesting stuff to come. Starting off with a Taiwanese experience – right here in London. Love that you can travel the world without leaving our great capital.

Xu (pronounced Shu) is wonderfully welcoming with warm wooden panelling, wooden ceiling fans, a marble bar and booths with plush leather seats to sink into. It oozes style and luxury, the perfect setting to absorb some Taiwanese culture and cuisine.

The menu is absorbing. I love ordering dishes when you really don’t know what to expect – despite detailed answers to any queries from the waiter. First up a selection of bak kwa, served intriguingly like an offering of After Eight Mints. Bak Kwa is the Taiwanese name for jerky and today there were three types – 40-day aged beef, spicy pork and lamb jerky – served with a selection of shallot and sichuan relish and pickles.

As a person of Southern-African descent, I love biltong and jerky’s of the same family. These little meaty morsels were beautifully flavoursome and the Asian accompaniments definitely added that little bit extra. Full marks for inventiveness.

The jerky in its box with tasty accompaniments

Xu: jerky

Close up on the meaty treats

From the Mian Shi section we went for the Beef pancake. A shredded short rib and bone marrow combo is served in the bone with pickles, spring  onion, potato crumb and of course pancakes on the side. Sort of like a beef version of crispy duck pancakes with more exotic extras! Delicious.

Xu: beef pancake

The beef comes shredded and stuffed into a marrowbone

And then it’s time to assemble your pancake. Love the whole ceremony of this and the result was scrumptious.

Xu: beef pancake

Creating the perfect pancake

It seemed appropriate to try a dish from the Classics section so we went for the Shou Pa Chicken. Described as marinated chicken with drippings, ginger and spring onion, white pepper and chicken skin dip, this is on of the most chicken-y chicken dishes I’ve had in a very long time. The intensity of flavour was fabulous. Real comfort food with a tasty brothy sauce.

Xu: Shou Pa Chicken

A bowl of chicken packed with flavour

Xu: menu

The stylish mix of dark wood and crisp linen

Xu is the sort of place I can see myself whiling away many hours in. The bar area looked very inviting, and I feel there are more dishes that need to be tried. And those cocktails…

Today’s price point

We paid £32.50 for our three dishes which was ample for lunch.

Wine starts from £28 a bottle (both white and red).

There’s a great range of exotic cocktails from £9.

Xu is at 30 Rupert Street, Soho, Chinatown, London W1

Talli Joe for tasty Indian tapas

Talli Joe in Shaftesbury Avenue

Today I’m heading for Talli Joe on what I think of as the border between Soho and Covent Garden. The buzzing street called Shaftesbury Avenue. What a good place to be to try some Indian food with a difference.

The restaurant describes itself as serving Indian half plates and full drinks. It’s a stylish, modern little eatery with an intriguing menu. This one took a lot of perusing – thank goodness for the half plates idea, it gave us the chance to try more of the exciting options.

I love Indian food which means I’ve eaten it all over the world (though I haven’t been to India yet – must be remedied). Today’s interestingly different menu meant time to experiment and explore new flavours and dishes.

What’s on the menu

Lentils are usually beautifully done in Indian cuisine so the Moon daal Pahari seemed like a good place to start. The lentil fritters (described at Delhi’s favourite) came with grated radish and green chilli chutney. Flavoursome and crispy with the raw veg adding freshness and the chutney bringing a real chilli bite. A stunning vegetarian dish.

Talli Joe: lentil fritters

Lentil fritters nestle under freshly grated veg

The Kohapuri Chop is a tenderly tasty tandoori lamb chop served with a potato salad with mustard dressing.

Talli Joe: Tandoori lamb

Succulent lamb and a mustardy salad

Because they sounded so good, today we seemed to order more vegetarian dishes than usual. And the good news is that the Halve ki Mutter Kachori tasted even better than it sounded. Soft bread parcels were stuffed with a spicy pea mix and served in a butternut and potato curry.

Talli Joe: Pea and butternut

Pea-stuffed bread and a rich butternut sauce

Now this is an exciting and unusual dish. The Parsee Venison Keema Ghotala offered a richly satisfying spicy venison mince which was served with an organic egg yolk, lightly toasted sweet-flavoured bread and a side of pao (a chopped chilli and onion mix). We mixed the egg through the mince, making for an almost creamy delicacy and spread it liberally on the bread. Wow! The chefs here have certainly mastered those complex spice balances that make for the very best Indian cuisine. Every dish popped with a delightful roundness of flavours.

Talli Joe: Venison mince

A magnificent mix of spices for a fabulous mince

Talli Joe: Venison mince

Close up on the mince and yellow yolk

The Bohri Chicken was cooked with a combination of masalas and served with a pretty fenugreek flatbread. Another perfect spice blend for the melt-in-the-mouth drumsticks. Love a good Indian flatbread –  and doesn’t this look lovely with its herby greens and seeds.

Talli Joe: Bohri chicken

Spicy chicken drumsticks with fenugreek flatbread

Time for dessert – and fabulous dessert, too. The berry malai was a warm, creamy bowl of baked yogurt topped with fabulously zesty seasonal berries.

Talli Joe: baked yogurt

Sweet creaminess combined with great berry flavours

I love a bit of rose flavouring so couldn’t resist the rose-flavoured ice cream. A little glass of perfect pinkness with flavours that danced on my tongue. The perfect refreshing finish to a wonderful lunch.

Talli Joe: rose ice cream

Two tasty puds made for the perfect ending

Today’s price point

Our seven dishes cost £38.75 – really great value for delicious food.

Wine starts from £21 a bottle and there’s a good selection of spirits and cocktails.

Talli Joe is at 152-154 Shaftesbury Avenue.

Download the CAKE up and get £5 free

I used my CAKE app to book and pay at Talli Joe. A really simple and quick way to eat out in London – yes there’s an app for it. CAKE has a wide range of restaurants on its books and you can also earn credit when you eat out with plenty of chances to get a percentage of the cost of your dinner back.

Download the CAKE app now at thecakeapp.com and quote the referral code EATINGCG to get £5 credit for free and start exploring London’s wonderful restaurantland.

 

The CAKE app for easy eating out in London

Today I’m trying out the new CAKE app which really is an app meant for me. It’s an app which makes it easier to find, book and pay at London restaurants. And there’s a wide range of establishments already on its books.

I loved the fact that when you turn it on shows you nearby eateries and how far away they are – and you can book instantly. Or of course you can select any of their restaurants in advance and make your booking at any time.

On arrival at your chosen restaurant, simply open up a tab on your phone using the app and inform your waiter. Then when you’re done it’s quick and easy to pay. You can even set it up to instantly split the bill between your party.

You can also earn credit back when you eat out with special offers, just select somewhere with credit on and you’ll get a percentage of the cost of your dinner back (usually 15-20%). The more you eat the more you save! And of course as your credits build up you’ve got a great excuse to be going out and about again.

£5 for free

If you download the CAKE app to your phone you’ll get a £5 gift from me to get you going on your exploration of London’s restaurantland. Just use the referral code EATINGCG when you download the app. Happy dining.

Find out more and download your app at thecakeapp.com

The restaurants

My first outing using CAKE I visited Talli Joe in Shaftesbury Avenue. A buzzing little Indian tapas-style restaurant with great food. Full review coming soon, here’s a taster, the spicy venison mince served with an organic egg yolk atop.

CAKE app

The delectable Parsee Venison Keema Ghotala

Among the myriad restaurants you can use CAKE at here are three of my London favourites.

Ember Yard in Soho serves up a great range of dishes cooked over fire. Like what’s possibly the best cauliflower dish I’ve ever eaten.

CAKE app

Delightful spicy, grilled cauliflower

Lima Floral in Covent Garden transports you to Peru with an amazing array of truly different dishes. Peruvian ingredients are like no other and make for an exciting eating experience.

CAKE app

Tender beef Peruvian-style

And then there’s the grandeur of Brasserie Zedel. Sitting right by Piccadilly Circus, it’s a glamorous Parisian-style brasserie of marble and glitz serving great-value French food.

CAKE app

Style and sophistication at Zedel

And that’s just four lovely restaurants to tempt you – London is teaming with them after all. And eating there with CAKE makes life easier.