I visited Prague for the first time last weekend with my boyfriend. What a beautiful city; its streets are lined with grand pastel-coloured buildings and red-roofed houses. There is a wealth of historical architecture from the Jewish Quarter up to the castle, and its quaint, cobbled streets don’t get tiresome to wander around.
And of course, I’d heard a lot about Czech beer. At around 90p for half a litre of good quality pilsner, you can’t go wrong. The food however, I hadn’t heard much about…
If you opt for a meatless diet, it’s best to do a bit of research before going away, especially if you want to sample the local cuisine.
For a short three-day trip, we managed to eat a lot of food! We visited two vegan restaurants, but the first of the two was the most memorable for me.
On the first evening, we were super excited to try traditional Czech food, so we jumped on the metro to Plevel.
A little off the beaten track, this cosy café-come-restaurant had a friendly floral interior and was bustling with young Czechs and laid back staff. As we were keen to try traditional Czech nosh, I opted for the vegan equivalent of brawn to start.
I had no idea what ‘brawn’ was, but the waitress seemed to think it was nice, so I thought, why not? Soon after however, the sensible part of my conscience laughed in the face of such spontaneity…
As described by Wikipedia, brawn is a ‘terrine or meat jelly made with flesh from the head of a calf or pig, or less commonly a sheep or cow, and often set in aspic.’ So, in its traditional form, it’s very much a meaty concoction.
On Plevel’s menu the dish is described as ‘Agar brawn made from vegetables, soya and tofu’, with onions, vinegar and brad. I wasn’t really sure what to expect.
I now know agar is a type of jelly. The dish is what I imagine a combination of meat loaf and cat food taste like – not to my taste!
So round one of sampling Czech cuisine didn’t go so well. But luckily, the main course made up for it.
For the main, I had vegan goulash with dumplings. Described as ‘spicy goulash with soya meat, cooked with beer and served with homemade dumplings’, I was intrigued to see what this dish would look like.
The sauce was a thick, soupy consistency which tasted of creamy pumpkin and herbs. In amongst the sauce were big chunks of soya meat and as you can see from the photo, there was a tangy lemon slice and scoop of chunky cranberry jam to offset the rich sauce.
On the side were thickly sliced dumplings that had a soft and doughy texture and absorbed the goulash well. This type of dish would be perfect in the cold, winter months.
The portion was enormous, and so as is very rarely the case, I couldn’t finish it all. Unfortunately, neither of us had any room left for pudding. Two of us had two courses and we each had a glass of wine/beer, for the equivalent of about £15.
If you’re off to Prague and fancy trying the local food without the meat, Plevel is definitely worth a visit.
The second vegan restaurant we visited was located in the Little Quarter, a more touristy part of the city. Up a sloped street and with a few sets of winding stairs to climb up, by the time we made it to the restaurant, we’d earned our dinner.
With a more hippy/spiritual vibe, the walls were decked with canvases of photography from around the world, particularly from Asia.
Having learned from having eyes bigger than our bellies the night before, we decided to share a starter: a classic vegan entrée with a twist – double houmous – the classic dip as well as a beetroot version.
The portion sizes were modest in comparison to our feast the night before, but provided a tasty, light starter, well-presented with a contemporary look.
For the main course, I chose the vegan burger, described as a ‘mixture of black beans and smoked tofu in homemade bread, with grilled potatoes and homemade tartar sauce.’
I don’t think I’ve ever ordered a burger out without it coming with chips, so this was a revelation. The potato stack was quite light and went well with the tartar sauce which was fresh and creamy and tasted of spring onions.
The burger was served in a fresh, springy bun with a crisp, crunchy salad, but the burger itself was a little on the thin side for my liking.
Overall, I thought the quality of the food at LoVeg was high in terms of presentation and choice, but it was a bit pricier – I would imagine because of the location (though still very cheap compared to London) – and the huge hearty portions from the night before made my choice of meal look a bit small on the plate.
The waitress was really friendly however and the organic draught lager was delicious.