“ Address: Michalská 511/6, 11000 Hl.m. Praha-Praha 1, Czech Republic, Prague „
It having been eight years since my last visit to Prague I found the Czech capital much changed. It has more than ever a truly international feel, reflected in the restaurant and pub scene. The beer hall type places are much less common and traditional food is harder to find. When you can find Czech dishes, it's usually in themed restaurants that place more emphasis on the look than on the quality of the food.
We chanced upon Blatnice, a restaurant that bills itself as one of the oldest restaurants in Prague; from outside it looked cosy and welcoming and from the menu posted in the window we could see that there were plenty of dishes that would suit us. As we thought it a little early to eat at just after seven o'clock we took ourselves off for a few beers and when we returned around nine, the place was almost empty in spite of its location quite close to the old town square.
The interior looks like it has been untouched for some years though it doesn't look old in the sense that it's an ancient building with original features, it looks comfortably dated and well worn. It's meant to look like a rural inn with lots of wood panelling and faux vaulted ceiling, and wooden settles at big pine tables. The walls are decorated with an eclectic mix of old photographs and advertising signs.
The menu was in Czech with a translation in English. Traditional Czech cooking is dominated by meat dishes and this is the sort of restaurant best avoided by vegetarians; there are meat free dishes (omelette, pasta arabiata, etc) but if you're spending any length of time in Prague or the Czech Republic in general you'll find that the same dishes appear on the menu at Blatnice as in other Czech restaurants. (The best option for veggies is, in my opinion, to eat a pizza joints, Indian restaurants or else dedicated veggie restaurants)
I chose a mixed plate pleasingly named 'Staroceska basta' (translated on the menu as Old Bohemian Plate; 169 Czech Crown - just £5.82!) which comprised sausage, a hefty slice of salty gammony pork, and red cabbage, served with two types of dumpling. Himself went for lamb which is less commonly found on the menu in this part of the world, opting for a lamb shank served with potatoes, red cabbage and bread dumplings (199 CZK, £6.86) .
Nobody could argue that the portions at Blatnice are mean. Our plates were almost groaning with the weight of food. It's the kind of food that looks hearty and comforting, rather than stylish in a culinary way, but it looked and smelled delicious.
The slice of gammon on my plate was thick and juicy and salty. The sausage was strongly flavoured but didn't fight with other things on the plate. The red cabbage was nicely spiced and not too sweet; it provided a good balance against the saltiness of the meat. 'Dumplings' is the name that tends to be given to a variety of different accompaniments in this part of the world. Sometimes they are similar to gnocchi, sometimes they are like large ravioli. My plate had two different kinds. One was a bread and bacon dumpling; the dough mixture is rolled into balls and dropped into boiling water; depending on the size they are either served whole or else sliced with a piece of cheese wire. The other was a light and fluffy potato dumpling. Both were great for making sure none of the delicious gravy or juices from the red cabbage were wasted.
Himself loved the lamb he'd ordered. It was ready to just slip off the bone and was moist and richly flavoured. The bread dumplings this was served with were light and fluffy, another great way to soak up the tasty gravy. Although there was a generous serving of red cabbage on both plates there was a noticeable lack of vegetables as is common in this part of the world; the only vegetable side dish was one that would come smothered in butter so we had to accept we weren't going to get our five-a-day in Prague.
Apart from the lack of vegetables I couldn't really fault the meal we ate a Blatnice. I think it's great if you're just in the country for a short stay but you might be desperate for some vegetables if you're stay more than a few days. There are salads available but these tend to be drowned in creamy dressings.
The service was friend and attentive and the staff we spoke to all spoke excellent English. Everything is on one level so there are no awkward steps but wheelchair users might find that access to the toilets is not possible and it may be worth contacting the restaurant in advance to check. (Their email address can be found on their website)
At around £15 for two people this was excellent value for the quality of the food and the size of the servings. You can eat for less in Prague but this has to be one of the best value restaurants in this part of the city.
Recommended for carnivores (and veggies if you don't mind that the choice is uninspiring)
Open daily 11- 23