A fairytale restaurant in a fairytale historical palace in a… yes… fairytale city: Prague!
Zofin Palace is a beautiful neo-Renaissance building set on Slavonic Island (Slovansky ostrov), a small island in the river, in centre of Prague near the National Theatre.
This is an idyllic spot surrounded by nature, where there are lovely views to enjoy over the river and downstream to Prague Castle.
The restaurant is located both inside Zofin Palace and outside in a large permanent marquee in the grounds.
While the palace part of the restaurant is open all year, the marquee is open April to October (and on New Year’s Eve). The marquee is heated in the winter and open-sided in the summer.
Indoors, the setting is classic, and the finishings are of exceptional quality.
The menu selection is brief, but comprehensive; and the dishes follow the seasons.
Both our main dishes were superb, ranking very highly on an international scale of excellence. Funnily enough, they were simple dishes – good old traditional Czech cuisine – but they were so flavoursome, and they really hit the right spot at that moment in time.
Perhaps this idea of following the seasons has merit? This is something that in the UAE we don’t really experience, since the ingredients have no seasons to follow.
Absolutely fantastic roasted duck – that’s it, just a duck, left to cook in an oven… nothing fancy! Just a “Crispy Roasted Czech Duck with Red Cabbage and Light Potato Dumplings” – oh my goodness gracious me, how delicious can a duck be???
And our other main course, an equally humble dish, the “Slowly Roasted Beef with Old Bohemian Vegetables, Homemade Dumplings and Sour Cream with Cranberries” – Well, blow me down! Bring out the Chef and we’ll both marry him on the spot!
Truly a delightful dinner experience on the palate. A top-notch presentation of local Czech cuisine, and with pride.
All other dishes were of equal valour.
However, the proposed Czech wine from Moravia was set politely aside in favour of the excellent Czech beer, which regardless of the seasons is always good even if out of a bottle!
The Žofín Garden might want to consider exploring the matching of wines with their dishes under the auspices of a sommelier, although quite frankly wines are not a traditional forte of the region.
Instead what is definitely forte is their herbal liqueur, named Becherovka!
A bitter, widely utilised as a digestive in the Czech Republic, and I suspect, neighbouring nations, the complex tastes blend marvellously. Incidentally, their website is very well designed and worthy of a visit.
It is powerful stuff in a bottle, at 38 degrees, and so best sipped in small quantities.
Overall, a majestic dining experience, and one I whole-heartedly recommend to the visitor to Prague; in fact, I will go as far a saying that if you’re in Prague and do not dine at Žofín Garden, you will have missed a tip-top chance to sample some exquisitely special Czech cuisine.
In a fairytale setting, since 1835.