There are two restaurants that are intimately woven into the fabric of my high school experience: the first is Boston Pizza, where countless birthday celebrations, post-movie dinners and impromptu meals were had. The second? Bistro Praha – for their Eastern European fare, their desserts, and a certain friend’s desire to cross paths with a certain teacher who frequented the establishment. So for nostalgic purposes (and to check out the new digs), I chose Bistro Praha for a quiet birthday dinner last month with Annie and May.
It was amazing to me how much the interior resembled Bistro Praha’s former storefront on Rice Howard Way (after having to close because of the 2009 Kelly-Ramsay Block fire, Bistro Praha finally reopened in the Empire Building in January). The walls, the furnishings, the accents – it really felt like the entire restaurant had just been lifted and pieced together in this space. The atmosphere hadn’t changed either – the same classical crescendos coalescing with conversational exchanges of patrons clearly enjoying themselves. We also did a double take on the menu – had the prices even changed since the last time we dined there?
Bistro Praha interior
Surprisingly, we all decided to order dishes that we hadn’t tried before. The food came lightning fast – it was almost as if the kitchen had known what we had wanted to order from the start! My filet of sole ($19.95), served with potatoes and butter mushrooms was generous, to say the least. The fish was under seasoned, but had a nicely browned crust and a flaky texture beneath. I have to say I probably enjoyed the sides more, the potatoes perfectly crispy (reminding me of those served at brunch) and mushrooms so tasty that makes one wonder why butter baths aren’t more common.
Filet of sole
May had her hands full too with the rack of lamb ($26.95). She commented that the meat was well prepared, and very much enjoyed her plate. Annie had been craving goulash ($9.75), bold and hearty, the better of the two dishes she ordered. The Hungarian sausage ($9.50) was good, but was served with an unappealing film of orange grease – Annie had to dab it off before digging in.
Rack of lamb
For dessert, we shared a strawberry crepe ($8.50). What a difference warm fruit makes! The berries just melted into its shell, finished with a drizzle of chocolate sauce and side of whipped cream. Had we not been full from our entrees, we could have easily devoured another.
So many things have changed in the ten years since we graduated high school. But it’s a small comfort to know that Bistro Praha, in spite of its new location, hasn’t.
10117 101 Street
Monday-Friday 11am-1am, Saturday 12pm-1am, Sunday 4-11pm