Fraktal Bar Restaurace

How does the Letná bar's much-vaunted hamburger compare to Potrefená Husa's pricier patty?

This article was originally posted on the Czech Please weblog.

"I'd gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."

- J. Wellington Wimpy, 1934

Like Popeye's friend, Wimpy, I love a good hamburger. So, I was just rather pleased when I got a Monday evening invitation to meet friends at Fraktal.

At long last, I was going to get my first Fraktal Burger. I'd heard stories. It was good, they said. But I'd never had one. I needed to know.

I'd been to Fraktal before, always at the invitation of G, and always for breakfast with a group of friends. I'm in love with their breakfast enchilada, but that's a story for another day.

On this particular day, the weather was warm, and G and a few friends had scored one of the restaurant's few outdoor tables.

You are almost guaranteed to hear English spoken at one of these tables. This place is an expat favorite.

The restaurant itself is a large, compartmentalized basement space. It is pretty dark and cave-like. I've heard it can fill up with smoke at night when the hard drinking gets done. Maybe its better that way -- on a Sunday morning inside you can still smell a lot of old, spilled beer.

Outside seating is much preferred on a nice day.

Anyway, I arrived late, after everyone else had eaten. The waitress was gathering up some plates as I sat down. Without looking at the menu, I ordered a large Fraktal burger and a beer. The Gambrinus is 27 CZK for a half-liter. The Pilsner Urquell is 32 CZK.

The burger arrived pretty quickly. It comes with lettuce, red onion, tomatoes, sliced sweet pickles, a mayo-based sauce, and a side of fries and mustard. A bottle of Heinz ketchup was brought along with it.

Small criticisms here: the tomatoes are sliced into quarters, which is not exactly the best shape if you want to throw them on the burger. The fries are large and good, but needed a little salt.

The meat sits atop a sturdy poppy and sesame seed roll. Taking the top off, you'll see generous amounts of bacon and cheese. The burger patty itself is thick, round, and nicely charred on the outside.

I think it is worthwhile to compare this hamburger to the one that I posted about recently at Potrefená Husa on Vinohradská.

The PH Burger has better bacon -- freshly cooked and tender. The Fraktal bacon was also hot, but a little harder to chew.

The PH Burger condiments are better organized and fit better under the bun. Its bun is also a little higher quality, and nicely toasted.

The best part of the PH burger is that it has such a strong, char-grilled flavor. The Fraktal Burger, despite its charred exterior, doesn't match that.

Sounds like no contest?

Not so fast.

The ground beef used at Potrefená Husa is very high quality, low fat beef. Ironically, this quality actually hurts the burger. I think hamburger meat needs to be a little fatty. The PH Burger can actually be on the dry side after cooking. Fraktal's burger was much more juicy and the meat had a better texture after cooking.

Fraktal also offers a variety of different burgers on their menu. They do burgers topped with goat cheese and pistachio nuts, sautéed mushrooms and onions, or tzatziki, black olives, and feta cheese. I don't know if I'd go for any of those, but a friend said they do have great goat cheese.

Price is a big difference between the two, and I think it is a big issue. At Fraktal, you pay 195 CZK for the large 200-gram Fraktal Burger. The smaller 125-gram burger is 170 CZK.

There is just a large burger option at Potrefená Husa, and it costs an astounding 297 CZK. That's about the same price that they charge for their South American rib eye steak.

So, which one is better?

Well, if I'm eating the hamburger on Monday, and they insist I pay for it the same day, I'll gladly go with the Fraktal Burger.

Fraktal Bar Restaurace

Šmeralova 1

Prague 7 (near Letná Park)

Tel. (+420) 777 794 094

E-mail: [email protected]

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