10, 2002 -- Restaurants II
are the days in Prague when you could get a three-course meal with
wine for $6--those were the price ranges I worked with happily ten
years ago when I visited for a week. It was a lovely way to stretch
a traveler's buck, and in many ways, I miss those days. But there's
a silver lining: gone also are the days when there were approximately
three restaurants in Prague, gone are the days when your only choice
on the menu was whether you had bread dumplings or potato dumplings
with your goulash, and gone are the days when if you weren't sitting
down by 5:30 you weren't going to get dinner.
have, in fact, been overwhelmed by the sheer number of places to
eat, internet cafes, and coffee shops to choose from.
of my regular games in any new city is to suss out what would be
"my" coffee shop if I lived there -- the placed I'd sit
for hours reading or writing. Since I'm here specifically to do
writing, this takes on a little more reality in Prague. . . and
I'm stumped. I've spent mornings so far at Bohemia Bagels -- a fairly
Americanized joint with blond wooden booths, "bottomless"
cups of coffee, and twenty net-connected computers; the Cafe Imperial
-- eating bacon and eggs in a truly luxiurious tiled hall that looks
like it was once the inner sanctum of a Hungarian bathhouse; the
Hanging Cup of Coffee -- an English pub like place with stuffed
animals on the walls. . .
. . and now, today, I am in the NoStress Cafe. It's a vaguely Manhattan
affair with, I'm surprised to see, foie gras on the menu. (Foie
gras! In Prague!) Smooth leather chairs are pulled up to squat,
dark, oriental coffee tables; in the corners are 7-foot tall bamboo
in pots, while dozens of calla lillies line the window sills. Jazz
is playing on the stereo and there's not a bit of goulash anywhere
to be seen. I'm not quite willing to commit yet, but it may, perhaps
be the perfect spot. At the very least, I will have to try the foie
gras--which at about $9, shows that the prices in Prague aren't
really that bad after all.