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With the discovery of Rekorderlig Swedish cider in my local Liquorland a few weekends ago (the strawberry is to d i e for), my search for European cuisine was reignited when a friend of mine proposed dinner on a Wednesday night.

And so came the discovery of Prague Beer Restaurant, a name simple it all its glory and yet unheard of on the western front (or maybe just in my world).

 

After a trip to Prague at the beginning of this year, I was especially keen to relive the experience and see if Australia’s self-proclaimed multiculturalism could live up to its name. …And after seeing $10 beer jugs and $12.95 pork knuckles on the happy hour menu (Sundays – Thursdays, 5.30pm – 7pm), it didn’t take much convincing.

Gambrinus Pilsner – $10 a jug

There are four types of Czech-imported beers at Prague Beer Restaurant, all brewed in the Czech Republic and not expensive to boot! Was a very sharp, clean taste with excellent head and a strong yeast flavour (so probably not the best choice if you’re not a beer drinker).

Even though it’s not winter anymore, the Prague Winter Special holds true with an early bird two course set dinner available Sundays – Thursdays at $25 per head, if you order between 5.30pm – 7pm.

 

In hopes of trying as much Czech cuisine as possible in one night, we opted for the menu and were given complimentary bread baskets,

Bread basket – Rye and White

..although on second thought, it probably came with the goulash soup.

Goulash Soup – $11.90
Traditional Czech style Goulash soup with potatoes
Tradiční gulášovka s bramborami

As far as I’m aware, goulash is actually Hungarian but I’ve heard it’s quite a popular dish in the Czech Republic as well. The soup itself was deliciously thick and littered with chunks of meat and potato, and seasoned with paprika and what may possibly have been a variety of other spices.

 

Stuffed mushrooms – $11.90
Crunchy fried mushrooms stuffed with blue cheese served with home-made tartar sauce
Do křupava smažené a nivou plněné žampiony podávané s domácí tatarskou omáčkou

I’m generally the kind of person who would steer far away from blue cheese, especially after my first experience of gulping the mould down (and not realising it was mould) ..and then promptly drowning myself with water.
I should probably point out that the blue cheese flavour is not subtle …or in my opinion, anyway.
I’m sure for the cheese lovers among us, some would say that the cheese wasn’t strong enough ! But I could definitely taste the blueness – that’s not to say this entrée wasn’t good, either – I just needed to dip (drown) the balls in tartar sauce to make it edible.

 

Marinated Beef “Svickova” – $22
Grandma’s old secret recipe for beef marinated in creamy root – vegetable sauce served with bread dumplings and cranberry sauce, slice of lemon & whipped cream
Hovězi svíčková na smetaně s houskovým knedlikem servirovaná s citronovo – brusinkovým terčikem a zdobená šlehačkou

In my head, this was the ultimate test of the authenticity of the restaurant. I had a Czech friend who introduced me to this dish in Prague, and informed me that it is a very popular meal in the Republic.
The beef itself was not a stand-out but clearly reminiscent of the same meal I had eaten in Prague. There was also a dollop of cream on a smear of cranberry sauce placed on a lemon – not sure how I was supposed to eat it but I’m not a fan of cream anyway!
And IMHO, the poorly named bread dumplings (houskové knedlíky) should just be renamed to “bread slices”, because that’s what they really are!
I’m actually really keen to know the recipe for these dumplings, because I think I probably just don’t have an appreciation for European dumplings ..seeing as these ones tasted identical to the ones in Prague – I’m just not a fan :(

 

 Golden Roasted Young Duck $25.90
Based on the old traditional Czech recipe, served with red cabbage, sauerkraut, bread & potato dumplings and gravy
Po staročesku pečená kachna podávaná s čereným a bílým zelím, houskovým a bramborovým knedlikem a přírodni šťávou

Came with a generous portion of red cabbage and sauerkraut, and enough sides for you to have more than just a taste of traditional Czech. The duck was crispy, greaseless, and had a strong, rich flavour.

Having only five days of Czech eating experience under my belt, I daresay that this restaurant is a hidden slice of Europe in Potts Point. Of course, not being Czech and all, I can’t really vouch for the authenticity (although from my own experience and the Eastern European accents of the waiters, I’d definitely say it is!) – but absolutely worth a trip for the cheap beer and good food.

The Winter early bird two course set menu is a great deal in itself – seeing as it’s $25 per head and some of the mains anyway are already more than $25.

And if that isn’t enough to win you over ….who can say no to the half-price $12.95 pork knuckle (RRP $25.90) on Wednesdays ? – I got massive diner’s envy staring at another patron’s order, which was a huge, juicy, tender, succulent pork knuckle …..

Anyone free on Wednesdays? ;)

 

Prague Beer Restaurant – visited 14/09/2011
42 Kellett Street
Potts Point NSW 2011
(02) 9368 0898

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The quest for the perfect French restaurant has been a long withstanding goal of mine for the past year or so, and so you can imagine my glee when I heard of The Red Snail, the newest French restaurant to hit the suburbs of Sydney.

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The problem with finding hidden gems is just that – they’re hidden, and so after hitching a ride to a train station, catching a train to King’s Cross, and walking in a circle around Darlinghurst Rd & Roslyn St rather than walking 500m straight down Bayswater Rd, one would hope that the trek was well worth it ! :)
…Especially considering their $35 for 3 courses special for dinner !

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Despite being situated in King’s Cross, one should abandon all sleazy, dodgy preconceptions when visiting. A glowing red atmosphere was awaiting us (as well as their $10 cocktail happy hour from 6pm – 7pm !!), with the opportunity to dine al fresco or to eat inside and be catered by the waiters and waitresses donned in matching uniforms of red and black.

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Fruit Bellini (mango) – $13, or $10 during happy hour
mango, mixed berry, strawberry, passionfruit
Fruit pulp of your choice mixed with vanilla, peach schnapps & champagne with a fruit garnish

Despite my initial excitement over their cocktail happy hour, whoever mixed my drink put in waaaay too much alcohol. The bellini tasted like an overdose of champagne with the aftertaste of schnapps, and the occasional hint of mango pulp. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like my cocktails tasting like shots – not to mention the cocktail itself wasn’t served on ice so wasn’t cold or anything – and I felt like I was having a heart attack with every sip.

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Honey Roasted Vegetable Gateau with ricotta, pinenuts & balsamic $14

It’s been awhile since I’ve ordered vegetables alone, but the idea of a honey roasted veggie gateau was too tempting to refuse. There was a strong waft of honey at first (which I must admit I’m not very fond of), but the vegetables were roasted to the point they weren’t crispy nor soggy. The ricotta was rather plain, but if you’re not a fan of overpowering cheese, it’s perfect :)
The entree itself was a sizeable portion, and I can hardly remember the last time vegetables made me feel so full.

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Duck confit and orecchiette salad – $14

This was one of the specials of the day. I don’t know about you, but whenever meat is in a salad I think it always tastes better as a cold cut – and this was just it ! The duck was cool, tender, and super tasty :)

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Mussels Provençal, rich tomato, garlic & fresh herbs – $14

This would have been my second choice had I not ordered the vegetable gateau. The mussels were soft and fleshy, and there was no strong seafood flavour that you usually get when ordering oysters/mussels and the like. Also loved the tomato :)

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Duck breast fillet, double cooked with sweet & sour cherry glaze – $31

When eating this I was trying to figure out the perfect way to describe the glaze ….and it really was sour ..and sweet. I’m beginning to really appreciate fruit flavours with meat, and I must say the sauce was really delicious =9.
The duck was a little chewy, which I would expect from being double cooked, and as much as the mussels didn’t have that seafood flavour, did the duck have that ..duck flavour (I’m really very coherent with my descriptions today, hey?)

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Whole trout roasted with lemon & parsley sauce – $25

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Kangaroo fillet, served rare, with native plum sauce – $25

The first time I remember trying kangaroo fillet, it was so soft and tender. Perhaps it was a one-off, because the second time I went back to the same place to eat it again it was nowhere near as nice.
Those who might condemn those who eat our fluffy native Australian fauna – well, I could say the same to you for eating ….the native American fauna …… (yes, the cow.. haha, unless you’re vegetarian!). Nevertheless, the outside of the fillet was really nice, and plum sauce again made the meat just that more juicy.
It was a little chewy this time, and despite requests to cook the fillet medium rare, the taste of blood was permeating.

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Mixed vegetables (side)

Steamed vegetables such as cauliflower, carrots, beans, and cucumber. Apparently all the mains come with a free side of vegetables, which does appear on the menu as an additional $7 if you order it. A nice surprise, considering the ice cream with my sticky date pudding came at an extra $2 – a hidden cost no one bothered to tell me about :(

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Sticky date pudding – $11, plus ice cream – $2

This was amazing :D I don’t remember ever liking sticky date pudding but FATE was calling me out to order this tonight ….and I didn’t regret it at all !
I don’t know if it was exactly pudding-like, but it was so soft and moist and delicious, and with the sauce … mmmmm foodie heaven.
Would go back here again just for it (and yes, for the range of flavours, the vanilla ice cream was well worth the additional $2) !

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Poached pear with cardamon anglaise – $11
I’m not exactly sure what cardamon is, but the dish had a distinctly alcoholic taste. The pears tasted a bit like canned pears soaked in cinnamon and alcohol ..which was alright, but I probably wouldn’t order it myself.

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Crème Brûlée – $11

If you’re looking for a non-sweet dessert, this is probably the closest you can get, short of ordering the cheese and crackers.
It was a little too creamy, and the glaze on top was a bit stiff as well.

I unfortunately did not get a photo of the garlic bread, which was a m a z i n g ! Definitely recommend it (but only when it’s hot).

As for the French authenticity of these dishes, I cannot vouch for them, but at $35 a pop it’s value to be sure !
If you go on Sunday for lunch or dinner, I hear the prices are reduced to $25 for three courses, so definitely worth a visit.

And if the meals sound reminiscent of Pyrmont’s The Little Snail ? Well, apparently the owners are the same, but the prices are cheaper and some believe the quality of the food is better :)

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The Red Snail (visited 17/07/10)
Cnr Kings Cross & Ward Ave
Darlinghurst 2010
Ph: (02) 9357 4919
http://www.redsnail.com.au

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