restaurant review

EATING VEGGIE IN PRAGUE

EATING VEGGIE IN PRAGUE

We had a fabulous time visiting Prague, I left feeling that I could quite happily move to this amazing city again. Everywhere you got there is something amazing to see or do. Of course I wanted to explore some new veggie places and visit an old faithful we so enjoyed 2 years ago. Here is a summary of some of the food we ate during our short stay in Prague.

Maitrea was the first restaurant we visited, and this time we ate there twice. Maitrea serves honest, tasty food. We loved it 2 years ago and we loved it even more this time. For starters, both visits, we had the Czech style pickled sausage. It's a taste I grew up with. The second time the plate was dressed with a tad too much olive oil but still tasted great. My husband was happy with the Czech traditional meals made with seitan (Goulash and the vegetable cream sauce both served with dumplings). My two main meals were “chicken” balls with roasted veg and pesto, this was bursting with flavour and reminiscent of Czech meat patties. On my second visit I had very tasty tofu and aubergine with Thai coconut sauce. Huge portion! I couldn’t finish it all. Kids had the sushi and my son also tried the “chicken” balls, he wasn’t as impressed as I was... KIDS! This is definitely our favourite veggie place to eat in Prague! Even my meat eating friends love it and eat there often.
Maitrea is in Tynska Ulice, Praha 1 just of the Old Town Square

"Chicken balls" with roasted vegetables and pesto
'chicken'-balls

Maitrea sushi
maitreia-sushi

Pickled sausages veggie style
pickled-sausage

We had to try the new (about 1 year old) vegan restaurant
LoVeg. It is very close to the castle, and you can see their banner among the red Prague roofs. The building was amazing, you have to walk several flights of stairs to get to the restaurant that sits just under roof (an outside table is available too). The staff were great but the food was lacking. I had the aubergine tartare and tomato canapes (that day’s special) to start with and must say they tasted very good if anything the bread could have been toasted. My husband was slightly disappointed with meger 3 small veggie shrimps on his salad and my daughter exclaimed “This needs salt and lemon” about her very bland hummus...my son on the other hand was happy with his guacamole and pitta bread.
The mains were tasty, my husband enjoyed another goulash he just wished a slightly bigger portion. I enjoyed my lasagne but was disappointed with the tomato sauce on the side. It was simply just heated tin of tomatoes... My daughter had the same issue with veggie shrimp salad (greedy chops). My son’s burger was delicious, probably the tastiest thing we had, I loved the tempeh bacon and will try to make it at home!
This restaurant was let down by lack of attention to detail and flavour in some dishes, making few adjustments would make this place stand out. I would still recommend this restaurant, the food is good, just don’t order the hummus...
LoVeg, Nerudova Ulice, Praha 1

Vegan lasagne with aubergine and spinach
Loveg-lasagne

Aubergine tartare and tomato canapes
LoVeg-canapes

LoVeg Burger
lovegburger

Secret Of Raw
was a surprised to me. I had no idea there is a raw food restaurant in Prague. My friend’s foodie boyfriend suggested we have a dinner there. I wasn’t disappointed. The menu was fantastic, lots of choice, I found it difficult to choose. My son loved the gazpacho, but he wan’t too keen on the nachos. I personally think the raw nacho chips could have been served with a great tasting guacamole and tomato salsa instead of the dips on offer. The raw cheese platter was very good, I liked the different flavours of the cheeses, my daughter however thought they were a bit too spicy (well she finds everything too spicy...). Mushroom pancakes with marinated mushrooms and garlic cashew cream were outstanding. So full of flavour! We also had 2 tasting platters on the table mostly to satisfaction of those who ordered them apart from the tomato quiche that seemed to miss the mark. My husband also said that my (or I should say Christine Bailey’s raw pizza) is better than the restaurant’s. I do admit that recipe is hard to beat. My friend was waxing lyrical about her courgette rolls with pea and fennel cream!
The portions were huge, I struggled to finish my main. No room for dessert in our camp. My friends gorgeous son scoffed down the acai lime cake like it was the last meal he was to have for days. This is a definitely must visit place if you are into your raw/plant based food or simply want a different dining experience. By the way the white wine grapefruit juice spritzer was bit of a revelation for me!
Secret of Raw, Seifertova 13, Prague 3

Selection of raw cheeses

raw-cheese

Secret of Raw tasting plate
raw-tasting-platter

Mushroom pancakes with marinated mushrooms and garlic cashew cream
raw-mushroom-pancakes

Acai and lime cake
raw-acailimecake

The last but not least was another new discovery
The Loving Hut. This is a chain with 8 restaurants in Prague already. I was sceptical as I am not a fan of run of the mill Chinese food. I find that sauces in Chinese restaurants usually taste like “dish water”... I am pleased the food was great, better than it looks of the website. My kids were happy since there was sushi and Chinese dumplings, my husband was happy there was seitan and I found a great tasting tempeh Kung Pao with sauce tasting nothing like dish water, it was rather delicious. I also loved my summer rolls with peanut sauce (I love anything with a peanut sauce!!!)
The menu is very heavy on meat substitutes, mainly soya protein and seitan. Not something I would eat everyday but what we tasted was great and I would definitely come again. I will have to try the Loving Hut in the UK to see how similar these restaurants are.
The Loving Hut, various location, we went to the one on the Wenceslas Square

Veggie sushi
LH-SUSHI


Tempeh Kung Pao
LH-tempeh-Kungpao


Veggie dumplings
LH-dumplings


A bonus photo: Cafe Slavie fruit platter with almonds and Grand Marnier, a very luxurious breakfast...
fruit-platter-Slavia


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SAF RESTAURANT REVIEW

SAF RESTAURANT REVIEW

My sister-in-law gave us tickets for the amazing Cirque du Soleil performance in the equally amazing Royal Albert Hall as a Christmas present. Therefore, last Saturday, we found ourselves in Kensington, having a pre-show walk in the Kensington Gardens accompanied by some very friendly squirrels before having a much anticipated lunch in Saf restaurant.

I was very excited to finally eat there. I have the Saf app on my phone and often look at their mouthwatering recipes always thinking I really should make some. Did my lunch live up to my expectations? Well yes and no.

It is of course the best feeling be given a menu that gives you more than one or two decent choices. There really wasn’t anything I would/could not eat. I was however expecting the 50% raw dishes they advertise on their website. There were only 3. Saying that everything we tasted was very delicious.

For starters, kids both decided on the selection of raw cashew cheese with crackers (raw) with fig chutney and as my daughter got a bit fed up after few spoonfuls I got to have a taste too. Impressed and inspired indeed. Me and my husband tried the sauerkraut dumplings, I love sauerkraut so was rather happy. The only criticism were tough edges on couple of my dumplings but overall a great dish.

Saf-cheese


saf-dumplings

For our mains we each chose something different. There was a spicy vegan burger, vegan sausages with mustard mash and gravy, all day breakfast, and my choice the trio of bean tacos. Apart from the burger (which my son was guarding with his life) I had a taste of the everything. I loved the tofu scramble from my daughters all day breakfast and the gravy in the sausage dish was delicious. My tacos were great, maybe lacking bit of spice, but I loved the three different toppings, the vegan coleslaw, tropical fruit salsa (yum yum) and guacamole (or as my daughter calls it wackamole). What I did find slightly disappointing was the bought-in sausages and taco shells. Saf make great raw crackers so I expected home made taco shells.


saf-tacos
I am not a big dessert person by I couldn’t find a fault with my raw chocolate ganache tart with rum marinated bananas and cashew ice-cream. Well maybe one fault, it made me so full I thought I will have to be carried out of the restaurant... Kids opted for the sweet dumplings that were very delicious too, especially the delicate cinnamon syrup.

saf-sweet-dumplings

How would I rate my experience? I think a solid 8/10. If I didn’t come with expectations I would score Saf higher. Would I go back? Definitely. Would I recommend it? Yes, no hesitation. Especially to people who think that vegan food is boring and will leave you hungry...Saf would change their mind rather quickly.

saf-ganache
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THE WHEELWRIGHT INN - REVIEW

THE WHEELWRIGHT INN - REVIEW

Pub food can be a hit and miss, especially if you are wanting veggie food. There are always few options, the vegetarian lasagne, veggie burger and if you are really lucky a mushroom risotto. I do, therefore, approach pubs with caution,

Today, however, we found a gem. Beautiful old thatched pub, The Wheelwright Inn was inviting us in as we drove through a quaint village called Colyford in Devon. As always I went through the menu before I sat down (my mum-in-law and my son have already perched themselves at a table, no pressure on me right?). The menu looked very unlike most pubs, it was imaginative and modern, however the veggie options were all cheesy. I asked the very friendly waitress if a cheese-less option could be possible. She listened and went to discuss the matter with the chef. I do admit I was getting slightly nervous as it did take a bit longer than anticipated (glad he wasn’t the veggie hating Gordon Ramsey). To my relief he came up with couple of yummy sounding items.

Wheelwright-Inn-1

My choice was a vegetable tagine with pearl couscous and my son decided to have the wild mushroom and potato burger. My husband fancied the sweet potato and feta fritters and my daughter had a cheese sandwich (grrr) and chips (fries). My mum-in-law, the only non veggie in the party, had a prawn sandwich.

Wheelwright-Inn-2

All the dishes looked fantastic and tasted great, I was impressed the chef managed to turn out rather rich tasting tagine at such a short notice. Happiness all around and this for a good price too. It just comes to show that it never hurts to ask and if a chef has skill and imagination there is no mountain too high.

Wheelwright-Inn-3

If you come to visit, bring some extra cash there are some lovely antiques and other little treasures to be found there. Unfortunately my husband didn’t share my love for the large black velvet bulldog. Maybe he may see its beauty next time we visit because we definitely will be back!

The Wheelwright Inn
Swan Hill Road
Colyford
Devon
EX24 6QQ
www.wheelwright-inn.co.uk

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RESTAURANT REVIEW: THALI CAFE CLIFTON

RESTAURANT REVIEW: THALI CAFE CLIFTON

A short stroll around Clifton lead us to Thali Cafe. I admit I secretly hoped we would end up there as I have been wanting to try it out for a while. Kids would usually vote for Pizza Express across the road but since my son has been lately discovering spicier food, his deciding vote went to the Indian cuisine. Yes, a result!

From my experience the more extensive the menu the poorer the restaurant, there is nothing worse than going through pages and pages of dishes and finding it all tastes the same. This seem to be the case of many Indian restaurants. Thali Cafe’s menu is very concise (yet interesting). I found it very easy to decide. You can choose from light lunches or Thalis. The word Thali means "plate" in Hindi and describes a selection of different dishes, which makes it perfect way to eat if you are an adventurous diner and like to experience different tastes.

We started with poppadoms with chutneys. The poppadoms were not oily at all and I wanted to leave with a bucket full of tomato and tamarind chutney, sooo delicious. Definitely one to recreate at home.

Veggie Dairy-free Thali
ThaliCafe

Our mains went this way:
My daughter: Kids Tiny Thali (rice,dal, pakoras, salad and seasonal fruit)
My son and husband: Veggie Northern Thali (paneer curry, rice, veggie subji, dal, rice and cucumber raita)
My Dad (the lone meat eater): Lamb Kofta Thali (paneer from the above replaced with lamb meatball curry)
And last but not least, me: Dairy-Free (YES!!!) Thali (veggies, veggie subji, tasty salad, dal, rice and a spiced tomato sauce and a lot of YUMMINESS)

First the bad news, my daughter found the dahl spicy and refused to eat it, the good news - more for me :) Everybody was happy with their food. I was a bit worried that my son may find his curry spicy, but he loved it and said this was the best Indian he'd ever had. Success all around!

Kids Tiny Thali
ThaliCafekids


Usually, after eating restaurant or take away Indian curry I feel a bit heavy and my stomach doesn’t feel happy with all that oil that it is not used to having. Thali Cafe’s food did no such thing, their curries lack the usual thick layer of oil. I left feeling happy and satisfied with no heavy kind of feeling.

This may just become my favourite curry joint in the city. I am already planning to try the Masala Dosa and the Pakora Chappati Wrap next time we go. Luckily there are 4 Thali Cafe locations in Bristol. You can also purchase a Tiffin and use it for takeaways. Great idea!!!

The service was fantastic too, very friendly and efficient. There is only one complaint (nobody is perfect), whoever made my pot of green tea went too heavy on the leaves. I do like my green tea delicate and this was rather bitter. Only a minor fault in otherwise perfect dining experience.

Go and check them out:
www.thalicafe.co.uk
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Vegging out in Prague

VEGGING OUT IN PRAGUE

lekha-hlava1

Back from our fabulous holidays in the Czech Republic, a week in my home town and a weekend in Prague. Happy to report that veggie visitors to Prague can finally escape from the usual fried cheese and omelette and enjoy some fabulous veggie dishes. Here are my tips on eating out in Prague, veggie style. I only managed to take photos at Lehka Hlava, Maitrea’s dim lights meant photos came out terrible, and quite frankly I was overwhelmed by Essensia to even think about taking my camera out of the bag...

Maitrea, Tynska ulicka, Praha 1 (http://www.restaurace-maitrea.cz/)
We ended up having two dinners in this fabulous restaurant. Only a short walk from the Old Town Square which makes it a perfect haven for the vegetarian tourist. Beautiful setting, great atmosphere and attentive staff enhance the experience. The food was the star. The kids loved the sushi plate, my daughter’s preference was the tofu sushi and my son loved the stir-fried vegetable sushi. Both times me and my husband ordered the Czech traditional pickled sausage veggie style for our starters, this brought some childhood memories back. My husband tried two traditional Czech dishes, made with seitan in the place of meat, a dark rich Goulash and the absolutely beautiful Vegetable cream sauce, both served with bread dumplings. I opted for Thai style aubergine and tofu on my first night, and no-chicken veggie balls with mashed potato and tomato sauce on day two. Both of my dishes were advertised as spicy but I found them very mild. Nevertheless everything tasted great. How many times I crashed and burned when I ordered aubergine dish in a restaurant, glad to say Maitrea cooked it to melt in your mouth perfection! My only complaint, while dining in Maitrea, would be the lumps in the mash (better call it crushed potato). Beware, the portions are huge! If you want to save room for deserts skip the starters. We had no room.... unfortunately.....


Lehkahlava2

Lehka Hlava (Clear Head),
Borsov 2/280, Prague 1 (http://www.lehkahlava.cz/)
After a failed attempt to book this restaurant for an evening meal (hence two visits to Maitrea) we decided to just try our luck on Sunday. Luckily around at 3pm we managed to get a table. To my kids delight this was a table in a tiny private room.
Lehka Hlava is a sister restaurant to Maitrea, however only few dishes were are the same. My daughter had hummus with a crisped up tortilla, my son opted for courgette soup and kids portion of pasta (which was adult size in my opinion). Me and my husband managed to chose the same starters again, an aubergine tartar with rocket (arugula) and toast. As big fans of aubergines we were in heaven. My husband’s main was another aubergine dish, a very tasty quesadilla. I went for the bulgur risotto with tempeh and sun-dried tomato and peanut pesto. It tasted great, I especially loved the tempeh. The portion was huge as in Maitrea, but I decided to push myself and try the RAW cheesecake with strawberry sauce. It was fantastic! Got to try to recreate it at home. Kids had chocolate fondue with fruit, great fun dessert that kept them quiet for a while :) Judging from the stream of people coming into the restaurant you really have to book to get a table, and you must because it is well worth it.

Lehkahlava3

Restaurant Essensia Hotel Mandarin Oriental Prague,
Nebovidska 459/1, Praha 1 (http://www.mandarinoriental.cz/prague/)
This was a very special treat indeed, my friend who works in Mandarin Oriental, invited us to their restaurant for lunch. We are talking 5 stars, very posh restaurant with a fantastic reputation. I was a bit worried if my kids behaviour will hold up in a place like this, but to my relief this was a very child friendly restaurant with traditional Moravian Easter egg decorating corner, and ginger bread decorating table in on of the rooms of the restaurant. The food in the Essensia has two directions, there is an Asian menu and traditional Czech menu. There also is a great kids’ menu. My daughter went for no spice veggie tofu Pad Thai. My son tried a very traditional Czech mushroom, potato and dill soup which he followed with tomato pasta and finished with strawberry soup with ice-cream. My husband had a tomato curry with dal and raita, and I started with veggie Tom Yum soup and Veggie Pad Thai with Tofu (on request prepared without the traditional dried shrimp). The food was fabulous, the only complaint (nit picking here) I would have, was the lack of chilli in my Tom Yum but it tasted great without it. I would like to know what the chef did to the peanuts, they looked like a mixture of wet sand and coconut (in a good way) and tasted of peanut butter. YUMMY! Molecular gastronomy??? This is a venue for a very special meal, indeed the Czech president dined there just a week before us! I hear he enjoyed his curry and caused a bit of a panic in the kitchen when he asked for it to be spicy as nobody quite knew how spicy that should be! I don’t think he finished his meal by icing Easter cookies like my children did :)

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