La Bodeguita del Medio
Miss K celebrates her fiancé's birthday with a meal at the Old Town Cuban favorite
It was Mr. K's birthday last week, so, rather than manipulating/bullying/otherwise cajoling him into my next blog spot of choice, as I usually do, I for once left the choice of restaurant venue up to him alone.
Luckily, in this case he plumped for La Bodeguita del Medio at Staroměstská, one of our favourite restaurants in Prague for cocktails, steak and general party atmosphere.
Back in my early Prague months, I used to spend about half my salary on mojitos here each week with the now-legendary Bad Influence Dutch Girl. Ah, happy days...
A few years on, however, and my life is much more sedate, with visits to La Bodeguita now focusing more on the cooking rather than the copious amounts of cocktails consumed in years gone by. Luckily for me, La Bodeguita is one of the few places in Prague equally suited to dining as it is drinking...
Unfortunately on this occasion, however, our visit got off to a somewhat wobbly start, as the restaurant had failed to keep the reservation Mr. K had popped in to make in person the previous day. It being 8:30pm on a Friday night with all tables in the place by now utterly packed out, Mr. K was not very happy here to say the least... I have to say that the hostess in question (not the one who'd taken the original reservation) fell over herself to be helpful here, seeking out a spare spot at the bar and providing a round of drinks on the house until the next table in the dining area was free, which was much appreciated. (At least by me -- Mr. K was still in the throes of a rather embarrassing paddy.)
Free wine and cosmopolitans did much to soothe Mr. K's frayed nerves here, however, and before long we were happily seated in the main dining area at the back -- my preferred spot to enjoy the ongoing Latino live music without being drowned out by it.
On previous visits to La Bodeguita, service has always been polite but erratic, with wait staff often overloaded with too many tables at once. On this occasion, however, it seemed that service was a lot more attentive -- perhaps our waitress had been forewarned that Mr. K was liable to blow a gasket if provoked twice in one evening...
Anyway, for starters Mr. K went for the smoked salmon with pea purée, herb oil and toast (168 CZK), while I unsurprisingly went for my usual of baked goat's cheese in filo pastry served on a warm spinach salad with bacon, pine nuts and balsamic vinegar (180 CZK).
Both of these went down extremely well, with Mr. K's salmon starter being simple yet generously proportioned, and my goat's cheese salad (a traditional favorite here) more than living up to previous visits. On a slightly negative note, I've never understood why La Bodeguita continually lets itself down on the bread front, always using the flimsy packet bread pictured as opposed to a few fresh slices of nice French loaf or something.
Still, overall we were more than happy with round one, which, needless to say, was washed down accordingly with glasses of house Argentinean Chardonnay (me) and Malbec (Mr. K) at 99 CZK each.
For the mains, I again stuck to my traditional La Bodeguita favorites here, in the beef steak tenderloin with pepper sauce and potato gratin (440 CZK), as I recall, requested medium rare.
I am generally not all that carnivorous in my tastes, but I have to say I do make an exception at La Bodeguita -- I've never yet been disappointed with the cut or quality of the steak, while the stodgy side of potato gratin likewise always goes down well here too.
Mr. K, however, decided to go for something new in the lamb calf with a warm salad of spinach, bacon with marjoram glaze and crème fraîche and potato purée (420 CZK).
This was deemed by both of us to be the absolute winner of the night, with an enormous quantity of melt-in-your-mouth lamb atop a mound of tasty mashed potato and flavorsome spinach salad. Next time I am definitely going for this one myself!
By this point, we were both pretty well stuffed, but considering it was Mr. K's birthday we thought we should at least mark the occasion with a shared slice of cake -- in this case opting for the chocolate with mascarpone and strawberries (160 CZK).
Thoroughly thick, dense and deeply chocolaty, this was a deliciously decadent end to what had overall been an extremely enjoyable meal.
Overall, the bill came to about 1,800 CZK, which certainly wasn't the cheapest meal we've ever shared, but for a special occasion we both felt that the quality of the food here was definitely more than worth the relative financial splurge. Either way -- despite the somewhat shaky start -- we'd both had a really great evening at any rate.
And so to keep it short but sweet, whether it's drinks/dinner/dancing you're after, overall La Bodeguita is one destination I'd definitely recommend!
La Bodeguita del Medio
Phone: (+420) 224 813 922
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