Allegro, Prague

  It really is a small world when a dear friend tells you that another friend that you both went to school with is in the same city as you. What makes this equation rather interesting is that I was in Prague for a couple of days, the friend I was meeting was visiting Prague from L.A at the same time, and the common friend who gave us this information lives in Martinique. Three cheers for social media networks! When the topic of dinner arose, I found out that Prague happened to have the only Michelin star restaurant in all of the Czech Republic and it was housed in the beautiful 4 Seasons Hotel, where said friend was staying and also recommended, thus making it the ideal place for a reunion dinner. The interesting thing is that the only Michelin restaurant in the Czech republic is Italian!

The only downside to eating outside at the 4 Seasons is having to put up with the occasional river boat teeming with drunken tourists singing Tina Turner full pelt. Luckily the picturesque views of the city more than made up for this momentary nightmare.

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Black tuna tartare
Iberico ham

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Our mild-mannered and light amuse bouche of black tuna tartare was a pleasant enough way to start a meal, whilst the Sugar cured Iberico ham was a dish with a story. It was the chefs inspiration from his wife’s Thai heritage  and markedly non-Italian for this reason. I only wondered if his wife had actually tasted it and approved as there was neither a hint nor a touch of Thai flavour which the dish was meant to embrace, but that’s not saying it was a disaster. It was delicate prettiness on the plate and palate and I feel that the ambience of the hotel and the city ushered this dish past my taste buds that were expecting something with a bit more personality.

My second course of pasta fagioli was a step forward towards bolder, stronger flavours with a lovely sweet and ‘crunchy’ fig compote offsetting the tortellini’s creaminess.

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.Whilst we were deciding on which main course to have, the restaurant manager ran to our table and insisted we have the turbot to share using many heavily laden adjectives to describe its apparent beauty, and after a performance such as that, could we say no?

Our salt-crusted turbot was encased in a salt and herb pastry as opposed to the traditional sea salt crust and came with steamed vegetables, caper sabayon, and minted broad beans. Ah joy of joys. The turbot was a bustling orchestra of herby goodness with the perfect seasoning from the crust, juicy and moist to be had just on its own, but played well with the rest of the food on the plate. Fish cooked this well makes one want to go and hug the chef. In fact, it should be a new movement. Hugachefism.

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A gentle pre-dessert of vanilla crème brulee with apricot ice cream and we were eager to see what our dessert of chocolate art would bring us – our waiter had said it was the chefs signature dessert, requiring a special table cloth, and presented on the table itself.

And so it came. First the tablecloth, then a drizzle of beetroot reduction resembling a Miro painting, followed by nuts and bolts: confit kumquats, sugared pistachio, praline hazelnuts, glazed cherries and nitro-frozen jasmine tea rocks – a little corner of treasure for each diner. Then came the chocolate. Oh dear.

Chocolate truffle, milk chocolate palet, liquid chocolate in a white chocolate crust, dark chocolate mousse, grue de cacao ice cream.

The verdict? Ridiculous, over the top and way too much – but I think that’s exactly what it’s meant to be. A conversation centre piece, a chocolate orgasm (chocgasm?), and in every sense, death by chocolate. I’m afraid the photograph does it no justice – (al fresco dining doesn’t fare well for photographs).

And unfortunately, we had no space or desire to eat any of the petit fours that so graciously followed.

Sadly, however, Allegro’s head chef is bound for St. Peterburg where he will be opening the new 4 Seasons property later this year. On that note, if you’re ever in that part of the world and are aching for a change of cuisine, this just might be the place to spend an evening! The service here in Prague, is exciting – exciting because the waiters and especially the restaurant manager, Tomas are very excited and proud of the food they serve and take pleasure in serving you and this in turn makes you happy and excited about the food even though the majority of the menu isn’t ‘Italian’ Italian. Small touches such as bringing a blanket out in the evening in case you’re feeling a bit chilly give this restaurant a few extra points on the happiness scale.

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Overall experience: 8
Recommend you go: n/a (the chef’s leaving)
Food: 7
Wine: 9

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