Artisan Restaurant and Cafe

Banditos' owner launches a new fine dining restaurant on the Malá Strana/Smíchov border

At the end of 2009, Banditos owner Aran Halvorsen embarked on an adventurous new undertaking, launching a restaurant with more of a "fine dining" focus than his popular Vinohrady Tex-Mex place.

The name of this new restaurant is Artisan and it's a completely different animal than his other venture.

Artisan is located on a small dead-end side-street that most taxi drivers have trouble finding, on the border between Prague 1-Malá Strana and Prague 5-Smíchov. (The best way to get there is to take the tram to Újezd and walk one block in the direction of Smíchov.)

The first thing you notice when you walk in is the bar/lounge area, designed for people waiting for tables or digesting their meals. Lush red velvet chairs and hardwood floors make it a nice place to wait.

The décor of the restaurant is warm, inviting and elegant, but not overly extravagant. Dark wood tables are accompanied by soft heavy chairs, and the loft wall lighting and mellow lounge music make it a very pleasant place to dine.

The staff is extremely friendly, which makes a nice change, and all speak fluent English.

The menu is small but full of interesting items such as Lobster Rangoon, Caribbean Salad, Pumpkin Risotto and Chocolate lava cake.

The wine list is also quite extensive with an array of wines from France, Italy and, coming soon, the Czech Republic.

We began our meal with a couple appetizers, the Portobello Mushrooms and the Lobster Rangoon. The waiter also brought out some of Artisan's fresh sundried tomato bread and butter, which was delicious.

Both the Lobster Rangoon and the mushrooms were fantastic. The mushrooms are by the far the best item on the appetizer list and were highly recommended by all my fellow diners who tasted them. (I think the trick is the red-wine reduction and cheese, but I'll let you decide for yourself.)

It was a difficult choice for main dishes as they all sounded very good.

I decided to get the scallops, which come skewered, on green pea puree. The presentation was great, the scallops perfectly grilled, and even the pea puree was tasty. My only complaint was that it was a smaller main dish than I expected but dipping the homemade bread in the pea puree helped fill me up.

I tasted a couple of other main dishes -- the steak and the open-faced ravioli with duck ragout. Both were delicious.

The steak (aged Filet Mignon) was probably one of the best I have had in the city.

According to the waiter it was aged Uruguayan beef and, although it was the most expensive item on the menu (425 CZK), it was well worth it. It had been ordered rare and the chef cooked it perfectly. The steak came with some tasty pureed potatoes and some haricots verts (green beans).

The open-faced ravioli dish was also superb, mainly thanks to the duck ragout. It must have been cooked for hours as the taste was so rich and thick. The homemade pasta made it taste just right. Perhaps I could have had my scallops as a side to this dish.

I'm not a huge dessert fan, but can highly recommend the chocolate lava cake, which was oozing with juicy goodness and is a must-try for anyone with even the slightest sweet tooth.

We had a couple bottles of wine, starting with the Chardonnay 2008 - Domaine de la Garničre - Loire, which was a good compliment to the lobster starter and bread.

We then ordered a red to go with the main dishes, a Merlot from Bordeaux (Merlot 2006 – Vignobles Daniel Mouty - Bordeaux), which was also a good choice.

As with almost every restaurant anywhere, the wine is often the item which pushes your bill over the reasonable mark, although the prices were bearable (475 CZK and 545 CZK respectively).

We finished with an espresso, a nice grappa and settled up.

Overall, I think that Artisan will do very well, with food, service, atmosphere and prices all in line with what many Prague diners are looking for.

I hear they'll be preparing special lunch menus to attract local business folk, which I think I might even cross town to check out.

A couple of other major pluses are that the restaurant is non-smoking, although there is a terrace for smokers, and that a garden terrace is due to open in spring 2010.

Artisan Restaurant and Cafe
Rošických 4, Prague 5
Phone: (+420) 257 218 277

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Yeah, I'm not sure. We went there, presentation was good, service was good (we were the only people in the restaurant) but the food, well, it had no flavor at all. It tasted like mushy paste. The spicy bean soup wasn't spicy, not at all. The bean soup at Cantina is WAAAY better. My buddy had the scallops, all three of them, it was a rip off. The bread had no flavor, great texture, no flavor. My Penn al'arrabiata was totally tasteless and the pasta wasn't even al dente. For these prices there is better food in town, lots better. The lunch menu isn't even a good deal, lots of work to be done here especially the competition in the neighborhood just hotted up with Inchusa opening!

David Brauchli
March 3, 2010


In response to David Brauchli:

We are very sorry that you were unhappy with your visit. We have have almost always received compliments on our food. Regarding the scallops you were not the only one to mention the portion size as an issue. We have changed the menu significantly since your visit. The scallops dish is now repriced and offered as a starter. The bean soup was not listed as spicy but has also been removed from our current offerings. The kitchen is aware of your comments. We always welcome feedback and aim to make Artisan the best it can be. We hope you will take a look at the new menu and give us another try. We are confident you will be please with your next visit.

Aran Halvorsen
Owner, Artisan Restaurant & Cafe
March 13, 2010

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