About Renee Blodgett

Renee Blodgett

Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.


Latest Posts by Renee Blodgett

The Ultimate Foodie Guide to Prague’s Culinary Delights

September 29, 2016 by  

Share:

If you’re a serious foodie and Europe is on your mind, you might not be thinking of Prague as your first choice. Let’s face it, Paris never disappoints (in my experience that is), London will bowl you over if you know where to go, Rome has so many small and upscale family-run gems with to-die for pasta and sauce concoctions that you may want to move there by the end of your trip, and Berlin, Vienna and Zurich could keep you going for weeks, especially if beer and desserts is on your love list as well. My most recent trip to Prague wasn’t my first; in fact, my first trip was pre-wall it was so long ago. While none of Eastern Europe was a “go to” region for food back then (if anything, you might find yourself hungry depending on when you went), I recall a special cafe experience in Prague and my recollection of both Prague and Budapest was much more positive than their more eastern neighbor Bucharest, which I had a hard time leaving because of countless train hiccups.

I returned six or so years ago and while Prague was even doing segway tours then, today I can see a difference, a migration if you like from “we’re open to the world,” to “we have tiers and layers to offer different audiences,” luxury being among them and….it’s growing. This beautiful Eastern Europe city along the picturesque Charles River is owning a lot of the things that Paris has for decades, like luxury shopping, 5 star hotels, and fine dining. There’s no doubt that Prague is on the international tourist circuit in spades, a far far cry from twenty years ago. Its culinary scene is also exploding and I don’t mean just authentic Czech cuisine at off-the-beaten path places. This year, Prague got awarded its third star and foodies are starting to pay attention. With three Michelin star restaurants to choose from and six Bib Gourmand restaurants, there’s no shortage of delicious places to explore and while their wine may not be winning top awards yet, some of their whites will definitely surprise you and best of all, the price is right. The guide below reflects a list of restaurants and cafes that I personally experienced during my most recent visit in September, strong recommendations from locals whose opinions I respect and for a select few, ones I identified on the ground as great ambiance or location spots, but didn’t have time to dine at. Here we go….

Valoria Castle & Garden Restaurant

Truth be told, it’s hard to beat the view at Valoria and one of the primary reasons I selected this restaurant for my very first night in Prague. See my separate write-up on this pow-wow restaurant on a hill half way down Nerudova that is sure to impress for a romantic evening out or even with a group of friends. That’s above and beyond their outa this world dishes, from fish to wild boar.

I started with a Goat Cheese salad with leeks, walnuts and walnut oil, followed by a scrumptious Beef carpaccio made with sun dried tomatoes, capers, arugula and paramesan cheese. A Czech chardonnay was paired with this, which was oak barreled for six months (I asked). It was a Pinot vinarstvi Gala although I also tasted the Chardonnay vinarstvi Baloun which just didn’t have enough body for me. European Chardonnays in general tend to have less body (and certainly less oak and butter) than their northern California counterparts. I clearly need to spend more time in Europe to get that palette of mine re-accustomed to crisper dryer whites, something I was growing into when I lived here in my twenties. The goat cheese was divine and oh so fresh as was the lettuce — after my first week of eating ‘right,’ I started to remember what non-genetically modified food actually tastes like and oh god, do I miss it.

On the Czech cuisine list, albeit a small selection, they had beef with root veggies, cream, cranberries, bacon and onions and Veal Cheeks made with dill,cream and whipped egg whites. While it was a very warm evening and I was sitting outside, I had to go for the Wild Boar since they offered it and I always think of Eastern Europe when I think of boar. It did not disappoint. They prepared it with peppers, aubergine, courgettes, and added a chocolate demi glace. Desserts included chocolate with orange, cocoa, almonds and vanilla, Peanuts with chocolate, caramel and Sabayone, a vanilla creme brulee with fruit, sorbets, a cheeseboard selection and chocolate fondant with raspberry sorbet. Be sure to check out my review on Valoria.

Address: Nerudova 40, 118 00 Prague 

Bellavista Restaurant

Restaurant Bellavista carries on the tradition of the formerly known restaurant Oživlé Dřevo (Enlivened Wood) which once used to be a famous venue for dignitaries. The place has a boat load of history — the original interior was designed by the renowned artist Alois Chocholáč, creator of numerous sculptures and snag wood formations which were showcased at many exhibitions in different countries including the World Expo 58 in Brussels.

Photo credits: Bellavista

The menu items range from casual dishes you can easily pair with beer or decadent and rich, such as steak and lamb that deserve a nice bold red wine depending on your mood.

One of the things that makes this place so special in addition to the food is the outdoor dining during warmer months — it has incredible views of the city in an outdoor terrace setting. There’s a ton of WOW to be found at this must-visit fine dining eatery!!

I went there for lunch, not dinner, eager to breathe in more incredible views of Prague in the early days of my time in this magical city. On the menu included a Mozzarella, tomato and basil salad, a Prosciutto and arugula salad with extra virgin olive oil, both of which I tried (below), a Pasta Bolognese, and a few Czech specialties including Schnitzel, a cheese board spread and a sausage plate which my Italian neighbors ordered (below).

I kept it healthy and light and went for the Mozzarella with arugula, cherry tomatoes and basil pesto and the delicious Beef filet Carpaccio with arugula, capers, and parmesan shavings. Loved it and it was the perfect choice on that sunny afternoon. I got the perfect table and so, had the perfect views, so much so that it was hard to leave.

They offer more traditional fare as well such as a Goulosh in a homemade monastery bread, Roasted sausages in black monastery beer with roasted bread, Grilled Budislav sausages with homemade grain mustard and roasted bread, Wiener Schnitzel with spring onions and mashed potatoes and a Flank Steak. For even more Czech choices, they had a Svickova sirloin in creamy veggie sauce and dumplings (homemade at that), a Boar goulash with rosehips and dumplings, a roasted duck with red cabbage and dumplings or a Roasted pork knee in black monastery beer with roasted bread, mustard and horseradish. All of these seemed like better options on a cooler evening or a different time of year in my case — options for when I return I thought. Lighter options like a pesto chicken and a Frutti di Mare with seafood and garlic.

Address: Strahovské nádvoří 132/1, 118 00 Praha-Hradčany – Prague

La Degustation

This Michelin Star restaurant is one of three in Prague. It touts a modern menu that has been inspired by dishes from 19th-century Czech cuisine and has an open kitchen so you can see their preparation in real-time, which is always a plus if you’re a serious foodie. They sat me at the end table right in front of the kitchen, so not only did I have slightly better light for photography but I was among the action….so to speak. Below is a shot I took of chef with my iPhone from my seat — I was that close to the preparation table — in fact, if I stood up and moved forward two steps, I might very well have been asked to ‘get to work.’ Be sure to read my standalone review on this culinary gem — it includes a boat load more photos than I’ve included here as well….in other words, every course!
Drink pairing is a big deal at La Degustation and they take it seriously. Your pre-fixe six or eleven course (depending on what you choose) is either paired with wines they select or juice. A 2014 Sauvignon Blanc Palavou Jaromir Gala was brought to the table to go along with the first offering (not on a public menu): Quail egg from the Czech Republic, with elderberry mayonnaise and garden herbs, sorel leaves, dill, marinated trout and celery with truffles and onion chips. “The front egg with the garnish is the only edible one,” the waiter said with a coy grin as he set it down in front of me. I guess a few people might have tried to eat the other eggs, I thought, otherwise, it would be a tidbid you’d leave out non? Either that, or it was a polite gesture to make sure none of their guests made a fool out of themselves, myself included. Oh so delicious and beautifully presented!

Inside, it’s not filled with loads of colors, curtains, trimmings or old world charm. It’s simple but elegant with clean lines. Below is a shot taken without any guests on-site.

Photo credit: La Degustation
According to them, “the drink with which you wash this harmony down can raise it to unexpected heights, just like a virtuoso’s solo, or destroy it, like someone singing out of tune.”  This is why they take pairing so seriously. Menu items on their pre-fixe menu includes tomatoes with mustard and thyme, forest mushrooms with garlic and thyme which they pair with a Portuguese Modry, Trout with almonds and dill which they pair with a Hibernal Petr Kocarik, Beef Heart with Prague Ham and horseradish which they pair with a Cuvee Skale Pavel Springer, and sheep cheese Arnika with potatoes and Rowanberries. Yum!! If you don’t drink alcohol, they will pair juice with each course. (yes, really)! Some of the juices on their list include grape juice soda, walnut, leek, cherry, sea buckthorn, and tomato.
Photo credits: La Degustation 

Their executive chef is Oldřich Sahajdák who has worked in and brought influences from Germany, Italy, Portugal, and New Zealand and the general manager is Tomas Brosche who came from Michelin restaurant Allegro at a Four Seasons. And yeah, as a reminder, don’t forget to read my write-up.

Address: Haštalská 753/18, 110 00 Prague 1

Alcron

I can’t put La Degustation and Field on this fabulous foodie list and not include Alcron, the third Michelin star in Prague and perhaps the hardest to get into. At least I stood a chance at Field if I were flexible on time and I managed a spot at La Degustation with a little effort, planning and taking a 9:30 pm reservation. Alcron didn’t have anything for me the entire time I was there. Sigh!
Photo credit: Czech Tourism

Alcron is also a little more austere that the others and in a big way. In other words, the jean jacket that I discretely threw over my shoulder on most nights wouldn’t have cut it here. Located in the Radisson Blue Hotel, it only seats 22 and it’s all about pure fine dining and has been since it opened in 1932. I understand that everything they do here is old style — remember in old England when women received a different menu without prices? Well Alcron still does it that way — yes really! They clearly don’t know a lot of the men in my life or don’t realize that in California, more women take their guys out to dinner than the other way around. At least, it seems that way with the stories I’ve been privy to over the last five years.

It’s oh so French, so you’ll get the likely choices you’d imagine from such a decadent establishment, such as foie gras with red currant and a peanut butter biscuit (okay, so not so traditional), but they have plenty of lighter options that will make your mouth pop. From Marinated Scottish salmon with avocado cream, grapefruit and wasabi marshmallow, Quail breast and rillettes with apricots and smoked almonds and a Lobster bisque with corn to Seared scallops with roasted king oyster mushrooms and homemade smoked bacon, Potato-Truffle Gnocchi, Sea Bass with parsley porridge and quail egg, and a Pork loin and shank with cabbage and apple-sage sauce.

 How about this milk fed veal tartare with marinated fennel  and coriander emulsion. Keep viewing and you’ll see why if you’re the ultimate foodie, you’ll want to put this on your picks list but make reservations well well in advance.

Zander with Lentil Salad

Above photo credits: Alcron

Address: Štěpánská 623/40, 110 00 Prague | +420 222 820 000 

Francouzska Art Nouveau Restaurant

While it has been around since 1912, think modern European dining in a delicate art nouveau dining room with massive windows.  A couple of sources say it’s one of the top restaurants in Prague and has received awards from the prestigious guide Gault & Millau.  Francouzska takes over the entire northern area of the right wing of the Municipal House, which was built to represent the best of Czech culture. The “project” was apparently designed by Czech famous architects Antonin Balšánek and Osvald Polivka.  Decor is from the twenties and the place has its original furniture, upholstered seats and silverware. The incredibly impressive ceiling has stucco geometric ornaments and there are paintings adorning the walls from famous Czech sculptors and painters such as František Kraumann and Alfons Mucha. Have a look – in this case, the photos will really tell the story and then some….
As for dishes, hmmmm, where do I begin? With starters, I suppose. They have delicious soup options including a Lobster Bisque but you can also opt for something a little more decadent like Smoked Prague Ham, an Eggplant platter with caviar, smoked eggplant, eggplant au gratin, eggplant parmagiana and eggplant chips OR their Roasted Duck Foie Gras on Gingerbread Toast with marinated pears in a passion fruit sauce. Simple and light? Go for the grilled scallops with celery and apple puree.
For mains, you can choose the Duck Breast Barberie roasted on Lavender Honey with port wine sauce, red cabbage, cranberries and dumplings, or go with Frogs Legs Provencal, Lamb Chops au gratin with rosemary jus, veggie ratatouille and potato puree, or the Beef Steak with roasted zucchini and mushrooms. All of it, so divine! They offer 2 course, 3 course and 4 course menus and depending on what you order, there may be a slight surcharge. Lighter on entrees, they have a Bohemian Pike Perch or a Roasted Monkfish with red curry and coconut sauce, even though it is indeed roasted in butter. Vegetarians, you’ll be delighted to hear that they have a whole Vegetarian section on their menu as well.
As for desserts and cheeses, here are a few things to whet your appetite: Pina Colada Gnocchi with coconut ice cream, pineapple coulis and chocolate sauce, a Flambeed Pear in a Swiss Eau de Vie Williams with port wine, or Apricot Cake with slices of white chocolate (pictured below). They serve this with homemade pink grapefruit sorbet, lemon bread and apricot sauce. How quickly can you say “yes please!?”
All photo credits: Francouzska Restaurant.
Address: Nám. Republiky 1090/5, 110 00 Prague 1-Staré Město

Field 

Prague’s newest michelin star, this “free range” restaurant gets praise from locals and tourists alike, so much so that I couldn’t get a reservation during my most recent visit. They offer a tasting menu that is a bit decadent for serious foodies: frog legs, a Jerusalem artichoke with speck, goat cheese and Rowan berries, a Mackerel with apples, peas and pine nuts, Lamb with fig and Chokeberry, Rabbit with beans and mustard, cheese from Krasolesi and more. Delish right? And, their presentation is out of this world!

Their a la carte menu is equally tempting, from Red Mullet, grapefruit, leeks and oysters, to Goose Liver, wine spirits, cherry and pistachio, it will be hard to choose an app. They also have Aged beef with watercress, juniper and Šaler, Halibut, rabbit, black garlic and fennel, Duck marrow, black walnut and kefir, and Sweetbreads with sea urchin, garlic and sunflower.

All photo credits: Field

Old world diners will love their pigeon dish which they serve with dry apple, hedgehog mushroom and Chokeberry, their Lamb choice with broccoli, sheep cheese, and buttermilk and their Veal, which they prepare with beetroot, chanterelle and pine nuts! Desserts include Passion fruit with chocolate, citrus and defrutum, Apricot, yoghurt, sorrel and cocoa beans and Nougat with tonka and curd! There’s a whole lotta WOW going on in their menu.

Note that the inside decor is pretty bare bones and lacks the warmth of Prague’s other two Michelin star restaurants but it’s getting rave reviews and the chef’s presentation of their exquisite dishes are sure enough to delight anyone, even the most serious foodie among you. At least a dozen people recommended it while I was in Prague, including two concierges at 4 and 5 star hotels.

Address: U Milosrdných 12, 110 00 Prague 1-Staré Město

Kampa Park Restaurant

This elegant restaurant that touts gourmet French-style dishes has 3 summer terraces and a winter garden — I dined here in early September and sat out on the terrace that overlooks Charles River. The best thing about this eatery isn’t the food or the wine, but sitting at a table on the terrace for breathtaking views of the river is the thing to do on a warm evening. Outside, its mostly two tops, so incredibly romantic to boot with an extensive wine list to choose from as well.  I started with a Prosecco and then moved onto red wine since the veal was calling my name. For red wine pairing, I stuck with Czech wine since I was in Prague after all — the Moravino Valtice, Frankovka Barrique, pozdni sber.
For starters, I went with the Veal Tartar which they served with black truffle oil, quail egg, green apple and brioche croutons (oh so delish)! Other choices included a Shaved torchon of foie gras with rhubarb compote, Brasil nuts and brioche, Halibut marinated in apple brine with garlic chive oil and grapes, Seared scallops with cauliflower, nuts, raisins, and dill beurre blanc with capers, King crab ravioli with kaffir lime aioli, tarragon and orange dust, Baked langoustine tail with Beluga lentils, shiitake and passion fruit sauce, Quail with potatoes and black truffle puree, with grapes and vanilla jus, or the Salmon with pickled cucumber, mango, soy-ginger sauce and coconut sorbet.

A veal entree followed, which was to die for; a veal tenderloin with ragout of green asparagus and fava beans, with a potato rosti, rhubarb and morel jus.

A few other choices included a Wagyu striploin steak, a Chicken ballotine with ricotta gnocchi with black truffles, a Canadian lobster with gem lettuce and mango and a grilled turbot with crispy artichokes, chanterelles, gnocchi and cream fraiche sauce with lojrom caviar. This place is really about the romance and the ambiance — after all, how often do you get breathtaking views of the Charles River from a front row seat with fabulous food and wine at your side? Be sure to read my more extensive restaurant review on Kampa Park, which includes more photos as well.

Address: Na Kampě 8b, 118 00 Prague

Peklo Restaurant Prague

Have you ever wanted to eat in a cave? The Czech Republic has a few of these actually, so if you’re an old world lover of fabulous food and wine and deep dark dungeons and caves are also your thing, then put Peklo on your list. Think 12th-century grotto! This dark eatery that is candlelit everywhere regardless of what time of day you go, was located very near to my hotel at the beginning of my Prague stay, so it was relatively easy for me to check out during lunch one day. They offer both lunch and dinner in case you want to opt for outdoor seating on a warm evening (summer or fall) but if you’re traveling to Prague out of season and weather is no consideration, this is a must visit. The restaurant has had famous politicians and celebrities walk through its doors, including King Charles IV, Alois Jirásek, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Imagine dining in an old cave while sipping on a glass of Czech wine and savoring dishes made with local recipes blended with French influences? Sweet, right?

Its location is in the courtyard of the Strahov Monastery, a space that once served as the Roman Catholic Premonstratensian wine cellars. Apparently, the monks grew grapes and were rewarded by the monarch with a coat of arms; historians will love the fact that a copy of these arms now hangs in the restaurant above the bar.

During warmer months, they have live jazz entertainment under the rock garden and there’s dancing every Friday and Saturday evening. My concierge says it falls in the luxury category, however its prices don’t and the ambiance albeit unique and traditional, is a bit more casual than fine dining. The menu is equally authentic and laid back, and include dishes like Moroccan Grilled Octopus with Red Pepper and Chorizo, Eggplant Parmigiana with Créme Fraîche, Velouté of Jerusalem Artichoke, Roasted Guinea Fowl with Thyme and Lemon Juice, Potato Purée, Sautéed Chanterelles, Cranberry Glaze and a Chocolate Soufflé! Of course, you can get classic red meat dishes and a board of cheese as well, all of which will go well with those Moravian Czech wines.

Photo credit: SurvivingEurope.com

Address: Strahovske Nadvori 1, Prague 1

Kotleta Restaurant

While this eatery is located right in Old Town Square and does attract a lot of tourists, it’s still a lovely spot as it has a beautiful garden and the interior decor is classically traditional.

They are known for their Czech cuisine, juicy steaks, “Kotleta” specialities, fresh salads, beer, homemade desserts and wine menu (they serve Czech, Italian and French wines) and plenty of interesting cocktails.

Above two photo credits: Kotleta website.

Because I went here with a group, I was able to view and sample a variety of dishes rather than just one. While we had a smaller menu for lunch options, we were able to order off the menu as well. Lunch specialties included an Oyster mushroom soup which several of us had, a slowly braised roast beef plate with pepper sauce and parsley rice, pork cheeks with marjoram and garlic, softened by cream and served with celery puree, a Fried cheese skewer (yes, really), served with boiled potatoes and tartar sauce, a housemade lasagne with chicken, grilled peppers, roasted leeks, zucchini, tomato, parmesan white sauce and a tomato-creamy sauce and an Italian pumpkin risotto with pork tenderloin, red onions, sage, arugula (one of the few menus that didn’t call it rocket), and a grana padano cheese.

Below, the pumpkin Risotto

I nearly went for this one….a great option for vegetarians and it was the solo one in our group who ordered this. This French lentil Beluga salad was served with marinated beets, roasted onions, goat’s cheese, arugula and tossed in a balsamic dressing.

The braised roast beef…

This was me…..I had to order a simple salad after days of decadent Czech and French dishes as delicious as they are. Think marinated beets, goat cheese, roasted pine nuts, tomatoes, chicken, mixed greens and Maple Syrup, though I had some kind of berry balsamic dressing instead.

Ahhh yes, that decadent lasagne — just look at how fresh the sauce is! There was also sauteed duck livers with cognac and wild forest mushrooms (the first time I saw that on a menu here), marinated in shallot and white balsamico, a duck liver pate (LOVE), made with pistachios and cognac, served with onion-currant marmelade and homemade bread, Beef Carpaccio (one of my favorites), served the ever so traditional way with parmesan, arugula, capers and basil oil, and lastly, worth mentioning, is their Housemade roasted belly pork spread with rosemary and garlic (yum, yum, yum), served with a spicy cucumber onion salad and fried bread. Apparently locals love this place and those who work in the area come here often for lunch. Another thing that was incredibly memorable from this busy little eatery was the casual but bustling patio if the weather is great and their housemade lemonade, all of which is made from fresh natural ingredients. It wasn’t JUST lemonade however since you could get your lemonade spruced up with a few different add-ons, such as Raspberry and Fresh Mint, Grapefruit (this was to die for), Cucumber (incredibly fresh), Lemon, Orange and Ginger.

Address: U Radnice 10/2, Staré Město, 110 00 Prague 1-Staré Město

Matylda Restaurant

When I first re-discovered this place, I was excited about dining here. In fact, I had a positive experience having drinks here five or six years ago. Boat Hotel Matylda and its neighboring restaurant is in a boat moared right on the water, facing some of the best views of the Charles River. Located in the historical part of Prague, it’s not far from the National Theater. The anchorage is on a newly constructed Vltava promenade, which starts at Vysehrad Rocks and ends at Sitkovske Mills (today’s Manes Gallery). Outside is the way to go during the warmer months, either on the front of the boat or the back (the terrace of the stern) — both have incredible views, especially right before sunset. The below shot was taken while I had dinner there one night during my last few days in Prague.

Inside, it’s glassed in and whether you take a window seat in the boat or on the deck, you can see views of the Sitkovska Tower, the Dancing House, Petrin Tower and even Prague Castle. While they say they focus on Italian cuisine, there’s a ton of more conventional meat dishes and Czech-inspired cuisine as well.

Above two photos, courtesy / from Boat Matylda.

If it’s warm enough, outside is where you want to be however. I was on the back deck and while the view was out of this world, the ambiance perfect and the food scrumptious (and reasonably priced I would add), the service was so bad, I would only return if I had a different server. It seemed as if he had been in the industry for awhile and I got the feeling that because I was a solo female customer and not a romantic two top of a group he could sell expensive bottles of champagne or wine to, I wasn’t ‘worth his time.’ Needless to say, food got cold, wine was late or he forgot altogether. And so, I skipped dessert and coffee and left feeling deflated from the experience despite the remarkable views.

The food is varied however, so whether you do opt for a pasta dish such as their Potato Gnocchi with Aubergine and Ricotta or a simple Minestrone soup, or you are in the mood for seafood, they’ve got you covered. Fish entrees included a Mussels, Shrimp and Squid combo with tomato sauce, Yellowfin tuna with white radish, Grilled halibut with lime and ginger glace, Baked sea bass with lemon and basil and Mussels in a white wine sauce. I’m a big salad lover so was thrilled to see five choices on the menu, from more traditional and heavier options like an Octopus salad with fennel and potatoes to Greek, Caesar, Smoked Salmon and the one I ended up ordering, the salad with goat cheese, beetroot, walnuts and thyme. (below)

Meat entrees included Steak, Beef tenderloin with arugula and parmesan, Pork tenderloin with mushrooms, garlic and cream sauce, chicken with parma ham and sage sauce, braised lamb shank with Chianti sauce and roasted spinach and my pick: duck breast with plum sauce. (pictured below)

Address: Boat hotel & Ristorante Matylda, Masarykovo nabrezi, 110 00 Prague 1

Velka Klasterni Restaurant

Ambiance is definitely lacking here, but if you’re a beer lover, this is your spot. Located near Prague Castle and close to the first hotel I stayed at the start of my trip (the Lindner Prague Castle). They can seat 500 people (and it’s apparently non-smoking) and you can sample beers from Matuška Brewery, which is apparently a big deal.

Photo credit: Velka Klasterni

Outside there’s a bit more ambiance on the veranda and it’s a nice afternoon spot after seeing the castle to grab a beer.  They serve so many Czech classics here as well that it’s a good spot to taste more traditional fare, such as Roast duck with apples, onion and potatoes, Roasted chicken with black beer, Prague goulash of young piglet with Czech dumplings, Onion rabbit with roasted pork, red cabbage and potato dumplings, Beef Sirloin with cream sauce, Veal Vienesse schnitzel with potato puree and a ”Znojmo” cucumber basket.  There’s also grilled pork knuckle in beer marinade with onion potatoes and sauerkraut (you can see the German influence throughout), a Roasted pig in beer marinade with onion potatoes and sauerkraut, or the Lamb shashlick with pepper salsa and roasted new potatoes.

At the outdoor bar, they had a bowl of some kind of mixed slaw and large Pretzels which you can order with your beer, an authentic Czech thing to do, at least one of them anyway. Oh yeah, and they had sausages as well — I ordered one to go just to get an idea of how fattening they were. In other words, would they taste more fattening than American sausages? Who was I kidding? If you’re even thinking about calories, then don’t bother, but my logic went a bit like this in the end: you can’t go to Prague and not at least try one sausage before you leave. Enuf said!

Address:  Strahovské nádvoří 302/11, 118 00 Praha-Hradčany  | +420 233 352 730

U Glaubiku Restaurant

While typically I might not throw this one on my foodie list, I ended up having a small bite here one day and frankly had to walk by it every time I made my way up and down the hill when I was staying at the Lindner.  And so, I learned just how much fun this place is, especially if you go as a group. Warmer months allow for outdoor dining on the street, which I’d strongly recommend. It is situated at the bottom of a hill on the Prague Castle side of town, not down near the Charles Bridge, which means that it’s less crowded and also more reasonably priced. From here, it took me about 30 minutes to walk to the Charles Bridge if you happen to be staying in that area. Or, you can tram it or uber it easily enough.

Since it’s all about traditional Czech cuisine here, make sure you pair your dishes with a local Czech beer. The rib platter comes with a few different dipping sauces – oh so delish!  Also consider Roast duck on braised red cabbage served with two kinds of Bohemian dumplings, their Roast knuckle of pork which they serve with Bohemian potato dumplings and braised white cabbage and bacon (wow, right?), Beef Goulash with Bohemian bread dumplings, Roast pork in a classic beer-based sauce with Bohemian potato and bread dumplings and braised white cabbage with bacon or one of their soups: a South Bohemian cream-of-potato soup with mushrooms, which is apparently a Prague classic, so they say. You can also get some of their homemade Bohemian potato or bread dumplings as a side.

 Address: Malostranské nám. 266/5, Malá Strana, 118 00 Praha

Spices Restaurant and Bar

While I didn’t dine here, I came across this special Asian gem right before getting my spa treatment at the Mandarin Hotel in Prague. In fact, it’s part of the Mandarin Hotel — hmmm, I thought…it must be good. I started asking around and sure enough, people rave about it.

Since it was still warm when I was there in mid-September, everyone was lounging outside on the outdoor patio. If I hadn’t showed up “just on time” for my spa appointment, there’s no question that I would have ordered a cold tea and an appetizer, just because! The ambiance was fabulous and I knew the food would be too.

Inside, it’s a lot more elegant and refined, like the rest of the Mandarin. Located in the heart of the picturesque Lesser Town, Spices Restaurant & Bar is a little more inventive with their Asian dishes and also do unusual mouth-watering cocktails. Spices’ stunning Renaissance-style vaulted ceiling and contemporary design provides the perfect backdrop for Excecutive Chef Jiří Štift’s dishes that will apparently have you at hello.

Dishes include incredibly fresh produce, most of it sourced from local Czech farmers. Served family-style in the middle of the table, the menu showcases the wide variety of ingredients and flavors found throughout Asia. Highlights include Thai crab cakes with mango chilli mayonnaise, Sea Bass and Malaysian Jackfruit curry served with basmati rice and Galangal, and Chicken Tikka Masala with basmati rice and pappadam. Oh so delish and beautifully presented to boot!

Above three photo credits: Mandarin Oriental/Prague.

Address: 459/, Nebovidská 459/1, 118 00 Prague 1

U Modre Kachnicky

This place is all about Czech cuisine and has incredible ambiance as well — there’s two locations in Prague so be sure to check out both if you have time.  Courses are served in one third the size of regular portions on their pre-fix menu and includes a wild game pâté with bacon, cranberries and baby gherkin, Duck rillettes with marinated beetroot and dried roasted apricots, Roasted duck with walnut stuffing, red and white cabbage, potato dumplings, Roast pheasant breast with dark beer-plum sauce and almond potato croquettes, Filet mignon with vegetable cream sauce, Carlsbad dumplings and cranberries, Apple strudel with punch sauce and walnuts and a Chestnut cake with poppy seed filling and hot red currant sauce.

]

Inside, it’s rather decadent, more than you’d imagine from the authentic, hip and artistic street view. It is around the corner however from Hotel Mandarin so you’d expect that they’d attract clientele from there or let’s just say, above your average bear traveler.

Photo credit: U Modre

They seem to really specialize in duck and game, two of my favorites. Scrumptious offerings in classic style include duck with walnut stuffing, red cabbage and dumplings, or duck with plum brandy sauce, with apples, raisins and honey, or with bacon Brussels sprouts stew and garlic potato pancakes, or with ginger lime sauce or with dried apricots, red wine and a green pepper sauce. Whoah Nelly — you had me at hello already!

Wild game specialties include grilled fallow-deer saddle with rose hip sauce and dumplings, wild boar roasted with onion, garlic, red cabbage and dumplings, roast pheasant breast with dark beer plum sauce and almond potato croquettes, Orange smoked duck breast with Grand Marnier sauce and honey pancakes (yum!!) and a roasted fallow deer knuckle with chestnut, root veggies, red wine and spring onion mashed potatoes.  There’s also a veal roast with truffles and bacon dumplings, roast rabbit with mushroom ragout and rosemary rice, confited goose leg with mushroom cholent and bacon rolled potato dumplings or OMG, an Old Bohemian Baking Pan for two, which includes roast duck, veal roast with truffles, Prague ham, wild boar roast, red and white cabbage, mushrooms and traditional side dishes.  If you’re hungry and want old world cooking, you now know where to come.

Photo credit: UModre

Photo credit: foodperestroika.com 

Michael V. is the chef here, who is apparently one of the few Czech chefs who has really succeeded abroad.  He mastered his cooking skills particularly in Sweden, where he prepared meals for the King of Sweden and the King of Norway, among others.  How cool is that? Details below.

Address: Michalská 434/16, 110 00 Praha-Staré Město

V Lalznich Restaurant

I loved this quaint little eclectic find — inside, it’s authentic, old world but casual and fun, with tons of interesting tidbits to look at and during warmer months, there’s a lovely little courtyard in the back.

Outside, it’s even better.

They offer more classic dishes like a Grilled Sausage on a platter with horseradish, mustard and pickles or a Roasted Pork side in honey marinade with the same. Or, you can get a slowly roasted pork knee with pickled veggies, horseradish and mustard, pork with sauerkraut and bread dumplings, roast duck with red cabbage and dumplings and Schnitzel. If you want to keep it light but still want the ambiance, then go for their Zucchini Carpaccio, one of their salads, their Filet of Salmon with cranberry jam and lemon, or a skewer and skip the bacon. Desserts are not for the light hearted and include pancakes with whipped cream, black beer ice cream (wow, right?), traditional honey cake with nuts and whipped cream or a home made Apple strudel made in a puff pastry with apples, cinnamon and raisins soaked in rum.

Photo credit: lovetravel888.

Address: Lazenska 286/6 | Mala Strana, Prague 118 00

Gotika Restaurant

Like theme restaurants? Or simply love the era when knights were fighting fort the hearts of beautiful ladies, when one’s word of honor meant something and shaking hands between men was above all contracts. Gotika exudes those times while tasting traditional old Czech cuisine, or fish, steak and pasta specialties.  It’s centrally located near Charles Bridge but on Mala Strana, the picturesque island Kampa. It is located in an ancient house build in 1648 (yes, really), and has been operating as a restaurant since 1850. In 1992, the house was put on the UNESCO protected list.

They really pay attention to the details inside…..it’s about as authentic as it gets while being slightly ‘kitsch’ at the same time, but in a way that works given its location.

I only had a drink here but for diners, you’ll want to go for their more traditional fare, such as Bohemian onion soup, mushroom omelettes, Roast sausage with mustard and horseradish, fish skillets, salmon with Rosemary sauce, Goulash soup, potato soup, and stews. There’s also dishes like Poultry livers with red wine and almonds and Tiger prawns with garlic butter. Yum!!

Address: Na Kampe 14, Prague 1 | 420.732.699.661 

Maliru Restaurant

I discovered this restaurant by accident when trying to find Kampa Park along the river on my second night in Prague. I talked to the staff for a few minutes with map in hand — it turns out that it is right around the corner from Kampa Park. I love old world ambiance and this place definitely has it — let’s just say that it exudes the magic of old times.

Both photo credits: Maliru

No typo here — apparently the restaurant was established in 1543 and, amongst its “barflies”, was Emperor Rudolph II. The restaurant has an incredibly warm ambiance and its walls boast murals by R. Adámek and R Jindřich from 1936-1937.

While I didn’t have a chance to dine here this time around, the menu looks fabulous. Appetizers include a Lobster cocktail with orange and papaya, Caviar Beluga with butter, boiled egg and potato pancakeon, Roasted Foie Gras with Butter Brioche and Raisins, Scallops with Green Lentils and Goat Cheese mousse with beet root, carrot crumble and Quinoa. Mains are even more decadent with homemade ravioli on the menu, which they serve with squash, kale and roasted chick peas (a great option for vegetarians), Potato Gnocchi with Black Truffle, Fish of the Day, Galantine of Rabbit glazed, Guinea Fowl with marinated shallots, potatoes Dauphinois, Roasted Mushrooms and cognac sauce, grilled Duck Breast with Truffle sauce and Herbal Smoked Pork Loin with butter squash and roasted veggies. Scrumptious right?

 

Address: Maltézské nám. 291/11, 118 00 Prague

Lokal

I didn’t end up making it here however I had six locals tell me it’s a fabulous place and so, here it is on the list. Several raved about it so much, that I’m disappointed I didn’t have time to test it out. The restaurant has simple fare but reasonably priced and apparently very delicious and “fresh.”

Photo credit: Lokal

If you’re an old world style traveler and diner, this may not be your spot. It’s known to be hip with locals, especially young locals, but it has an industrial decor so is not super warm in ambiance. That said, the menu uses local ingredients cooked to order so if you want fresh, healthy and exquisite taste that will make your mouth pop, then Lokal is a great choice!

Photo credit: Lim Ev

From cauliflower soup with garlic croutons Tagliatelle with morels, Burrata with roasted tomatoes and farm bread, and Swordfish with black sesame seeds, mango chutney and wasabi puree, to Prosciutto di Parma with watermelon, Lasagne with Bologna ragout, cold Gazpacho, and Spaghetti Bolognese, it’s a great spot to visit when you don’t want a “fine dining” experience but still want a fun ambiance that hipsters praise and the food is great.

Address: Dlouhá 33, 110 00 Prague 

Radha Govinda

Vegetarians will love this Prague eatery, which is a long-standing establishment known for turning out fabulous vegetarian dishes in a relaxed space with meditative music. From dahl and soups to pastas and Indian curries, they have your taste buds covered.

They do Vedic cooking here, a culture and set of customs that comes from ancient India. According to the Vedas, a human being is meant to realize his true identity as an eternal servant of God. This Vedic understanding begins with the knowledge that we are not our temporary material bodies but the eternal spiritual souls within our bodies. And, this philosophy goes into their cooking

What distinguishes Vedic cooking from other types of cooking is the cook´s spiritual consciousness and his or her awareness that he or she is preparing an offering for God.  The effect of eating prasada is different from that of eating food cooked merely for profit, for the pleasure of the tongue, or even for survival. We think about a lot of things when we cook, but pleasing God isn’t usually one of them. The result? A delicious selection of incredible vegetarian dishes to choose from in a casual and simple atmosphere.

Photo credits: Yelp

Address: Soukenická 2060/27, 110 00 Praha-Nové Město, Prague

Cafes and Bars

Misto

This is a popular spot with locals and offers a variety of coffee choices, from espresso and cappuccino to latte, machiatto and Americano. While I didn’t have a chance to get there this time around, at least a half dozen locals recommended it as a great spot for coffee and lounging about/people watching. The ambiance as you can see is incredibly modern and not particularly “warm,” but is known to be a good people watching spot and cafe for Prague hipsters and millennials.

Photo credit: www.restu.cz.

Address: Bubenečská 12, 160 00 Prague

Cukrkávalimonáda

This unique but casual spot looks like a cafe only on the surface although it has all of these additional fine touches that make you wonder what’s under the hood and its history. It is in fact a restaurant, but when I was there (for coffee and a pistachio cake only), it seemed to be more of a cafe hang out. They also serve wine as well as food in the evenings, and apparently offer a wide range of wine from cellars of respected winemakers all over the world. Vintages varying from old world to interesting local varietals that will appeal to every wine lover.

Experienced confectioner Daniel Lang, time time expert prepares a wide range of unusual desserts daily. Think salty white bread rolls or Flammkuchen variations or, chocolate and cherry cakes or fluffy meringue kisses.  The desserts in the closed glass case is exquisite, wouldn’t you say?  How could you say no to any of this?

Then, when you walk into the other side of the venue, be sure to look up. The ceiling and chandelier had me at hello; its intricate details and beauty will wow you over as you sip your cuppa Joe and embellish any of their desserts.

AddressLázeňská 7, 110 00 Praha 1 – Malá Strana

Bella Vida Cafe 

The atmosphere in this place is worth visiting alone – there’s a bookshelf lining the back wall and plenty of comfy sofas and plush chairs to sit in as you breathe it all in. Very “salon” like, this is the spot to go when you’re in the mood for a coffee or dessert, which I had.  Coffees they serve include Costa Rica Don Oscar – 60% and Panama Finca Hartmann – 40%. They are apparently very proud of serving Don Oscar, which is the name of a small processing plant in Costa Rica’s famous coffee region Tarrazu. I had a coffee here and the espresso mix gives off sweet notes of yellow fruit and fresh acidity. Their coffee uses the washed method and is full bodied with strong chocolate tones. I loved their coffee and I loved loved loved the ambiance!

Address: Malostranské Nábř. 563/3, 118 00 Prague

Klub Újezd

While this might be more of a hot spot for trend setters and the super young (yup, it’s very hipsterish along Újezd), I loved the very casual but funky and artistic ambiance of this bar. It’s definitely more of a “drinks” spot, but if you’re into unique bars with creative flare, this may be worth a visit. I just sampled a local beer here but apparently they also have live music on certain nights so be sure to check out their site for the latest: www.klubujezd.cz/.

Address:  Újezd 422/18, 118 00 Prague-Malá Strana

Bitcoin Coffee

Okay, I’d be remiss if I didn’t put this quirky coffee bar on the list. It’s not my thing to be honest, but for those who live and breathe technology and the latest innovation, you may want to pop your head in for the Bitcoin experience — yup, it means you can only pay with Bitcoins.  Based in Paralelni Polis / the Cryptoanarchy Institute (yes really), you get coffee from Berlin via a Syneso machine — there’s paper pulp furniture (like I said, not my thing), but if you want to hang out with super young trend setters, then this is your spot.   There’s also a 3D printer on location.

15674713133_78c91089a9_k

Photo credit: European Coffee Trip

This trending cafe is apparently the first official Bitcoin Café in the Czech Republic and the first ever in the world. Some say it’s a good spot for a business meeting although I’d say moreso a place for hipsters to hang out, that is unless you’re a technology start-up.

Address: Dělnická 475/43, 170 00 Prague 7

Vinograf

Given that I’m a huge wine lover, I had to put Vinograf on the list. While Prague is most known for its beer, the wine scene is growing and I tried plenty of Czech wines during my stay inside and outside of Prague.

Some of the wines on the menu include the Barina Ryzlink Rynsky Riesling which is from the Velkopavlovicko region, the Benes Aurelius from the Slovácko region (a great choice for sweet wine lovers) , the Benes Rulanske Bile from Slovácko (think Pinot Blanc), the semi-dry Benes Ryzlink Rynsky Riseling also from Slovácko, the full-bodied Dobra Vinice Chardonnay Qvevri Chardonnay from the Znojemsko region, the Dobra Vinice Quatre also from Znojemsko and the Domaine Hrabal Ryzlink Vlassky from Mikulovsko which is a light fruity Ryzlink vlašský-Welsch Riesling.

Photo credit: Vinograf

The wines from the Czech Republic are very different than your typical northern California wines although they do oak barrel many of their Chardonnays — they don’t have the climate to produce deep earthy reds although they have many great mid-bodied choices that are worth trying, especially with some of the heavier meat dishes on Czech menus, like Boar and Veal.

Address: Míšeňská 68/8, 118 00 Prague 1

Cafe Savoy

I fell upon this place during one afternoon walk — I spotted it across the street and only later learned that it was on my “must visit” list from a local. Sure, expats come here but so do locals, just not super young ones. For those into elegance and great style, sitting inside and taking in the incredible design is a must. They are known for their breakfasts, schnitzels, soups, pastries and of course coffee.

Photo credit: Leo Lam

It is known for being “refined cafe” and has a lavish wooden interior evoking the First Czechoslovakian Republic. Historians will also love this place for the decor and ambiance.
Address: Vítězná 124/5, 150 00 Prague 5

For Beer Lovers…

Lastly, beer lovers can head to the two biggest beer gardens in town, all of which have communal tables under leafy trees: Riegrovy Sady Garden is massive and can seat 1,400 and has a “rock festival” ambiance.

Letna Beer Garden on Letenské Sady, 170 00 Praha 7, boasts fabulous views of Prague’s old town.  Letná has lots of picnic tables and a small playground, located directly across from Letenský Zámeček, (Letna Chateu). The only beer on tap is Gambrinus 10°, and they have white and red wine, cola, and some spirits.

Photo credit: Prague Beer Garden.

Velka Klasterni Restaurace is at Strahovské nádvoří 302/11, 118 00 in Prague’s Hradčany district and has great outside seating during the warmer months.

This favorite beer spot is far from luxury but it does boast great breakfasts, as well as pretzels, sausages and of course beer. A local said their smoked fish was worth a try as well.

Street Food

There’s no shortage of street foot in Prague and most of it is very good. Here are a few street food shots I randomly took during my stay, the first of which was on a casual boat, right next to a boat that does nightly music cruises along the Charles. Cheese, bread, honey and a berry sauce — how can you go wrong? On the boat was all locals btw and several were waiting in line to order this. Sausage too of course!

This was a kebab I ordered for a late lunch on the same day I was planning to review La Degustation since it was such a late night reservation. It was absolutely filling, cheap and they gave it to me minus the pita bread due to my carb friendly diet. In other words, it usually comes in a pocket. It didn’t particularly taste organic and it wasn’t anything to write home about, but it filled a hole in between activities and meals.

You can find them everywhere in Prague, although this stand was along the river where mostly locals were hanging out, drinking beer and listening to local musicians. I ordered, added a beer from his neighbor (local of course with its carbs and all), and stayed for awhile, dangling my legs over the bridge waiting for the sunset. I listened to the music and….I even danced. It’s a young scene of course but even if you’re a foodie and a luxury diner, know that if you don’t experience street food and some of down-to-earth ethnic culinary gems that a city has to offer, you’re not really getting the complete picture of a city. In other words, you won’t understand the culture and you won’t have as much fun as you could. Prague has fine dining and it’s a must, but so is tasting the street food.

He was adorable — must have passed him a dozen times over the course of my stay.

Other Random Stuff

There are also markets and butcher shops, canteens and more, however you need far more time than I had to explore them all. I have a “few good” Czech sources, she says with a smile, so I’m tossing these quirky finds on the list through strong recommendations

  • CESTR: referred to as a canteen, it’s apparently all about Czech beef and I guess they’re known for their mashed taters as well: Legerova 57/75 Prague 1 | http://cestr.ambi.cz/en/
  • SANSHO: I so wanted to go here. Chef legend Paul Day owns the joint and a lot of other chefs hang out here – it’s a real scene, but a local culinary one: Petrska 25, Prague 1 | http://www.sansho.cz
  • SISTERS: What a great name, right? Go here for what’s referred to as the “Chlebicek,” which is the classic Czech open-faced sandwich. Two thumbs up say others for their soup and it gets kudos from well known Czech food writer Ms. Michopulu as well. Dlouha 39, Prague 1 | www.chiebicky-praha.cz
  • SIMPLY GOOD: On my low carb diet, this place would be dangerous, and yet locals love the oh so traditional sweets that come out of this place, from Kolachees and Streusel Cakes to other patisserie choices with plum jam, poppies and curd cheese. Egads, right? Sokolovska 146/70, Prague 8 | www.simplygood.cz.
  • MASO A KOBLIHA: Okay, so clearly if I had one of my American chef buddies with me, he/she would have dragged me here. I’m always amazed at where chef friends take me LATE night, not that this is a late night place. They tout having the best donut in town but this spot is a combo bistro/butcher shop and the beef (take note) is organically grown (YAY — applaud applaud) and you can see it all over the counter. Petsrska 23, Prague 1 | www.masoakobliha.cz

Outside Prague

  • Piano Nobile @ Chateau Mcely: Be sure to check out my review of Chateau Mcely’s Piano Nobile – there was so much WOW in this meal. Located in a chateau in the Czech countryside roughly an hour or so from Prague, it’s worth making a trip to this romantic 5 stay getaway. See our write-up on the chateau as well.
  • Villa Patriot: Located in a luxe hotel, this gourmet restaurant has outdoor seating in the warmer months. You could make this a day trip or go for a few days which is even better. It is located in the luxe spa town of Mariánské Lázně, roughly two hours outside of Prague.
  • St. Florian Restaurant: this gem of a find has both outdoor and indoor seating and is known for their smoked pig which is made fresh (in an underground oven). They rise it up on a spit, remove it, carve the meat and serve it. I also love the fact that it’s owned and run by a woman. St. Florian is in the picturesque town of Loket, known for its castle and has been the location for movie shoots, including Genius, a series currently being shot in the town. There’s great beer here also: Svetly Lezak, Tmavy Lezak, Tm. Uzeny Special 13 and Rubinovy Special 15 were on tap when we were there for lunch. See my write-up on Loket which includes St. Florian and food photos.

 

Note: No, no one paid me to include any of the above establishments on this list or quite frankly, even expected to be on a list. I was a guest of the Czech Tourism Board for some of these experiences, but not all, and as always, all opinions are entirely my own. If I have a bad experience with a venue, hotel, or restaurant, I typically just exclude it from a list or don’t write about them altogether. That said, despite my bad service experience with Matylda Restaurant, I opted to include them on the list because the experience is so unusual and the ambiance is so fabulous, that I hated to ditch them because of one bad experience with a waiter who ignored me for most of the night. I wish I caught his name — he kinda owned the back deck on the boat during warmer months so you could always ask them for a server that doesn’t fit this description. Anyway, I think you get my point.

Discover Heavenly Spa Town Mariánské Lázně in the Heart of Bohemia

September 28, 2016 by  

Share:

There’s no question that the Czech Republic’s Mariánské Lázně is a stunning place in the Bohemian countryside, but its not its pure beauty that draws people to this magical place. Known as a young spa town that only dates back to the early 19th century, it’s also a powerful one that boasts over 40 healing mineral springs which are known to have a healing effect. Mineral water in this area is used for baths and for drinking cures and each spring has a different chemical composition. For example, some may be high in iron whereas others may be high in salts, including Glauber’s salts. This diversity of mineral springs is what makes this destination so unique and why people seeking healing or a rejuvenating retreat in a natural environment, flock here every year. Below, the picturesque Colonade in the center of town, which is surrounded by a beautiful lush green park.

Medical Spa Treatments

There are no shortage of hotels in this spa town, many of which have medical spa facilities on the premises. For example at the Danubius group of hotels where we stayed, you can access the amenities, spas and pools at any of their properties in the area. We stayed at the oldest facility Centralni Lazne, where we experienced a unique oxygen treatment at Maria Spa, the original town spa house. The other nice thing about the Danubius hotels is that you can walk to another property through back hallways without having to walk outside, a nice benefit during colder winter months or if you simply want privacy.  Below, the oxygen experience, which is administered through intranasal tubes that you wear in your nose for around 25-30 minutes. A little uncomfy at first, but we quickly got used to it especially as the meditative music started playing. The air being inhaled is enriched with about 40-60% oxygen at a reasonable level of humidity.

An increased supply of oxygen into the body enhances the immune system, improves heart activity and the elasticity of the lungs, helps improve your mind’s efficiency and is meant to be excellent for overall health. Sometimes a vitamin drink is also offered as part of the treatment, although we didn’t consume anything other than water after our oxygen therapy experience.  There are more invasive treatments as well which require a doctor’s recommendation, such as natural dry carbon gas, which helps to improve blood circulation, kidney activity and sexual functions, in addition to having an anti-inflammatory effect. It is also administered by injection to reduce pain, improve circulation and can enhance healing.

.

Roman Baths @ Nove Lazne

The most luxe property of the Danubius group is Nove Lazne, which houses the original Roman Baths that date back to 1896 and includes three pools, a whirlpool and bubble baths as well as saunas with three different temperatures, a steam room and a sanarium. It’s exquisite inside, from the amenities and architecture to the Romanesque statues in the corner and the top notch saunas, which I tried on more than one occasion.

 

Other Danubius properties include Spa Hotel Labe, which provides charming views of the Colonnade, the Spa Hotel Svoboda, which is surrounded by nature, Spa Hotel Vltava, which is surrounded by a forest, Butterly, which given its modern architecture and design, makes for a better choice for business travel, the Grandhotel Pacifik, which runs along the Main Street, and Hvezda which extends from the renowned Imperial.

Healing Mud

Peloids are inorganic and organic pottages, which are used for compresses and wraps. They are made of peat and other mud and can be found around the springs.  For treatments, you typically have them applied for 20-30 minutes once they have reached the  40°C. Peat wraps are used for treating locomotive system disorders and respiratory system disorders. Special treatments are offered in the form of peat vaginal tampons, which are used for treating chronic gynaecological inflammations and sterility in women.

Thermal Mineral Waters

Spa care in Mariánské Lázně is oriented towards locomotive system disorders, kidney and urinary tract ailments, the respiratory tract, digestive system diseases and gynaecological, oncological and metabolical ailments as well as blood circulation issues. There are healing waters which you can drink from fountains in all the Danubius hotels and many of the other properties in the town as well.  While there are around over 40 cold mineral springs in the town, there are around 160 springs in the broader environs — these springs are used for the successful treatment of disorders of the kidneys and urinary tract, the nerves, and the digestive system, as well as skin problems and disorders of the breathing and motor apparatuses.  They even offer beauty treatments today to keep up with the latest trends.

People bring their own porcelain cup to fill up and then drink out of it, as shown below. While these were shot in spa town Karlovy Vary, the cups are the same throughout the healing spa towns where you can drink thermal waters in the area. They’re referred to as “spa cups” which typically are around 220 ml. Doctors recommend filling up at a spring and then taking small sips over about five minutes. Cold mineral waters are used for some ailments but not all — for example, they use hot mineral water for gall bladder, live and pancreas problems and constipation. They also suggest not drinking the waters without talking to a doctor first as the water could be harmful, especially for people with high blood pressure or cardiovascular problems.

While the two very short videos shot are a bit silly, you’ll get an idea of the property, at least from the outside.

Healing springs worth noting in Mariánské Lázně include Lesni Pramen (Forest Spring), Krizovy Pramen (Cross Spring), Rudolfuv Pramen (Rudolph Spring), Karolinin Pramen (Caroline Spring), Ambrozuv Pramen (Ambrose Spring), and Ferdinanduv Pramen (Ferdinand Spring). All mineral springs in this spa town are cold, ranging from 8 to 10 degrees C. Because of that, the springs contain a high amount of carbon dioxide.

Each spring is different and treats different ailments, conditions and issues. We are merely reporting what the spring waters are suggested and recommended for, however as always, consult with a doctor before drinking when in the Czech Republic. According to the Marienbad Danubius literature, Forest Spring can be helpful for people with stomach problems, the Cross Spring is useful for treating gall bladder, liver, pancreas and constipation, Rudolph is considered good for those with urinary tract issues, whereas Ambrose has a lot of iron, so can help with anaemia. Apparently Goethe drank from the Ambrose Spring regularly during his visits.

The Town & its Lush Parks

This oh so quaint town is surrounded by mountain forests, mineral springs and green parks and the Boheminium Mariánské Lázně Park is scattered with miniature models of Czech monuments and in the center, there is a baroque colonnade with bronze reliefs and a frescoed ceiling. Nearby, the neoclassical Singing Fountain plays classical music every two hours. Nothing was here two centuries ago except a valley of forests and bubbling swamps. When Johann Josef Nehr, a doctor from the nearby monastery in Teplá, discovered the health and healing effects of the springs, the spa town soon emerged. Within a few years, major talents such as Chopin, Strauss, Goethe, Kafka, Freud, Kipling, Edison, Twain and Great Britain’s King Edward VII began coming to the town. Mariánské Lázně’s parks make it one of Europe’s most picturesque garden towns according to many sources.

There are plenty of benches throughout the park where you can veg for an hour or two, read a book, marvel at the ducks in the pond or watch people walk by.

The architecture is as remarkable as the town’s natural parks, pretty gardens, and fountain.

Below, the view of the side streets of the town from my hotel balcony.

Arts, Music & Shopping

There is no shortage of shopping possibilities in Mariánské Lázně as it’s been a popular tourist destination for many years. From the non-traditional to the traditional, you can find it, even high end shoe stores selling luxury brands. There were stalls set up along the edge of the park that sold artisan wares, from scarves and tablecloths to semi-precious gems and stones.

Elegant clothing stores can be found in the center of town, Bohemian glassware and jewelry stores are also plentiful as are spots to find natural lotions, creams and even toothpaste, all made from natural sources and ingredients nearby.

A couple of musical “acts” we heard locally while there in September below: from jazz to acoustic….

Where to Eat

Villa Patriot Restaurant

This charming find is centrally located not far from the Colonnade and the Singing Fountain. If the weather permits, I’d strongly recommend sitting outside on the patio as it’s incredibly charming and has lovely views.

Dishes are very classic and influenced by both Czech and French cuisine, from veal pate and foie gras, salads and veggies, to seafood, game, ham, turkey and roast beef. My favorite offering of the bunch was their homemade Pumpkin Soup pictured below (oh so delish!) We had Tiramasu and fresh strawberries for dessert.

Details: Villa Patriot Restaurant | Dusíkova 62/4, 353 01 Mariánské Lázně | +420 354 673 143

Uzlate Koule

I love this centrally located spot right downtown. “Golden Balls” is apparently based on the tradition of the house bearing the same name, which was built on swamps in 1807, a year before the official launch of the town. The restaurant used to serve overnight pilgrims who came for the healing effects of the waters only few meters away, the most famous Marienbad spring – Cross Spring. The interior and décor were reminiscent of the original baths era, which includes vaulted ceilings, original wood beams, period-style furniture, countless historical objects, period engravings, paintings, candlesticks, clocks and other items. They focus on classic Czech cuisine, from various kinds of meat, fresh game from nearby Slavkov, traditional chicken dishes, fish, marine and freshwater fish, shrimp and seafood, real Russian caviar, New Zealand lamb, veggies and more than 40 kinds of organic fragrant herbs from nearby farms.

They also offer a collection of more than 60 kinds of wines, from local traditional Moravian growers to classic French (including the great Chateau), Italian and Spanish varieties, to the wines from Australia, New Zealand, Chile and California. Each day, there’s live classical music from local violinists and pianists.  Two thumbs up for the service, the ambiance and the food! The ambiance is really the thing that has you at hello as soon as you walk through the doors — the outdoor patio with its quirky massive fork in the entrance to its ancient candles, books and other relics scattered around the inside dining room.

On the outside patio…..

Details: Uzlate Koule / Restaurant “Golden Ball” | Nehrova 26 | 353 01 Marianske Lazne | +00420 354 624 455 | reserve@uzlatekoule.com

The Singing Fountain

The Singing Fountain is worth visiting anytime of day or night but particularly when they plan the classic works of the greats, such as Antonín Dvořák, Giuseppe Verdi, P.I. Tchaikovsky, W.A. Mozart and the film music musician Ennio Morricone.  This beautiful structure features a 12-piece stone sculpture representing a flower in the center of its shallow bowl and the core of the flower is made of polished stainless steel. The fountain contains ten water jet systems with more than 250 water jets and when the fountains are active, the water gushes from the jet in the center up to a height of around six meters. Typically, the opening music is a song by the Czech composer Petr Hapka which is followed by Chopin, Mozart, Bach, Gounod, Smetana, Dvorak and others. The music plays at every odd hour and has been doing so since it opened in 1986. Apparently the Singing Fountain is only open during the warmer months, i.e., May till October and closed during winter.

 

 

Above and below, the Singing Fountain by day immediately following a musical “performance.”

At night, the fountain is equally dreamy: Carol (from Wandering Carol) and I below, hamming it up near midnight.

Here’s a short video I shot of the fountain “in action.”

And, singing by night….

Romanesque statues can be found in many of the properties throughout the town (below taken at Nove Lazne)

King Edward’s Private Bath Cabin

Also inside Marianske Lázně’s luxe Nove Lazne where as mentioned above, you can bathe in their Roman Baths surrounded by columns from 1896, you can also have a treatment in what was once King Edward’s private bath cabin — yes, really. We had a tour of the facility where we learned about the history of this original bath house and the architecture surrounding it. Talk about mesmerizing. Have a look — the attention to details is extremely decadent and beautiful!

 

Other Useful Articles:

 

 

Newport’s Historical Viking Hotel Dates Back to the 1920′s

September 28, 2016 by  

Share:

Given that I recently got back from the Czech Republic and stayed in a castle that dated back to the 1700′s, touting that a hotel is historic from the 1920′s probably sounds a bit funny for most Europeans. That said, Newport is known for its history stateside and can even boast housing the oldest restaurant in America – White Horse Tavern, which dates back to 1673 (we included it in our FoodiGuide on Newport Rhode Island, so be sure to check it out). The Viking Hotel’s One Bellevue Restaurant is also on that list — worth noting is their award-winning wine list and live music certain nights of the week.

So, while Newport’s Viking Hotel only dates back to the beginning of the last century, it is a very classic hotel that oozes antiquated warmth throughout. This landmark luxury hotel is only a 10-12 minute walk from Newport’s Long Wharf Mall Shopping Center and the main port, depending on how fast you walk. Considering that parking isn’t easy in the downtown area, leaving your car at the Viking and walking to the restaurants and bars around the harbor is definitely the way to go.

What I love most about this chic but traditional styled hotel is its warm ambiance mixed with elegance — the fine touches in the rooms make you feel right at home. As you can see below, there are various room flavors so you can request what style you’d like depending on your preference. For a family stay, I’d recommend one of their larger suites or do what we did: get two adjoining rooms, which all have fridges, quite useful for dinner left overs and keeping bottled water and wine cold.

Romantic and luxurious are two great words to describe the ambiance of their rooms. Regardless of which color palette you go for, I’d encourage you to try their rooms focused on period inspired furniture with the tasteful décor of Newport’s Gilded Age. For example, pillow top mattresses are draped with Egyptian cotton bed linens and a rich satin duvet and some of the rooms have built in cherry wardrobes, which are reminiscent of those found in elegant manor houses. If you have kids in tow, you’ll find the LCD TV’s in every room a useful addition. In some rooms, beveled glass doors lead into the bathrooms which feature large showers wrapped in ‘pillow’ carved marble along with rain head showers.

They also have rooms that are typical of the Progressive Era (a little more modern, while keeping its classic style throughout) and what they refer to as Estate Rooms, which are located in the original wing of the hotel. These rooms have rich fabrics and textures with pillowed marble showers in the bathrooms. If you want even more luxe, go for the Estate Fireside guestroom which includes a pullout sleeper sofa, a king bed and an electric fireplace, making a great choice for a romantic weekend or if you’re a family of three.

The elegance of the place is what you’ll remember here, which extends from the hotel rooms to the on-site spa, which sadly we didn’t have a chance to try. SPAFJÖR offers traditional spa services, from anti-aging facials that incorporate high doses of Vitamin B3, Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid and treatments that help Rosacea, inflammation and acne  to advanced peels, microdermabrasion, laser treatments, stone, therapeutic and Balinese massages.

 
 

There’s also a gym on the premises, an indoor swimming pool and hot tub (the latter was ‘down’ when we were there so be sure to ask about it in advance if you’re a jacuzzi nut) and a hot sauna.

Below is an aerial view to give you perspective. And oh, those Newport sunsets are grand!

From the clock above the Front Desk depicting ancient Nordic Runes to the original 1926 brass letter box in the Lobby, there are remnants of famous dignitaries and celebrities, all of which is a nice bonus. For me however, it was the elegance of the furnishings, the outdoor porch area with Adirondack-like chairs where you could get lost for a few hours in a good novel or a cup of tea, the sauna and the delicious restaurant and wine menu that made me warm to the place after our few day stay.

 
Speaking of the restaurant, One Bellevue is also famous for its Afternoon Tea, where you can choose a Royal Tea that includes a selection of fine teas expertly brewed, tea sandwiches, house-made scones and other tea breads served with lemon cream and preserves, delicate pastries, and choice of Champagne or Kir Royale or a Light Tea that excludes the alcohol. They serve TEA every Saturday and Sunday from 2-4 in the afternoon and reservations are recommended.

We dined there on their outdoor patio (highly recommended if you go there during warmer months) and while I was thrilled by fresh oysters on the half-shell under appetizers, it was the soups that wowed us over, most notably the Cucumber and Almond Gazpacho and the homemade onion soup.

Of course, their lobster dish was out of this world as well and I’d highly recommend it if you’re a lobster lover!!

The tuna tartare starter…..

The last thing worth boasting about is their desserts – oh so delish — the photos will tell the story; they were as divine tasting as they look!!

 

DETAILS:

The Viking Hotel

1 Bellevue Avenue

Newport, RI 02840

5 Great Fall Reads To Get You Into Balance

September 28, 2016 by  

Share:

We used to do a lot more book reviews here than we have recently, largely because I haven’t had much time to read and it needs to be relevant to where WBTW is heading, which is all about having balance in our lives when we travel. Mindy/body/spirit balance is key to longevity and key to happy days on the road, particularly if you travel often. Here are five great finds, some newer than others, but life lessons are timeless. Let’s start with a new author I recently discovered in an OLD bookstore in New Hampshire on our trip back east this summer: Skye Alexander.

The Best Meditations on the Planet

By Dr. Martin Hart and Skye Alexander, think of this book as your own personal encyclopedia of specific meditations for physical, emotional, and spiritual health and healing. They offer 100 techniques to beat stress, improve health and create happiness in just minutes a day. A lot of people avoid meditation because they think there’s ‘something’ to learn, or they won’t “get it” fast enough, or they’re too busy or too frustrated when they start to meditate and start to get antsy real quickly. I’d fall into the latter category more than the others quite frankly, even though I have meditated over the years with success. What defines a successful meditation session? I define it this way: do I feel a little calmer and more prepared to deal with the stresses I get hit with on a regular basis after meditating, even if its for ten minutes?

Breathing deeply can lower your blood pressure, just as you can diffuse anger by learning how to disconnect the buttons that trigger that anger, just two of the things they cover in the book. Have performance anxiety? We’ve all been there — they offer techniques to get you through. There’s an a section on building sexual energy. You can use meditation to exercise your brain to improve concentration and focus, recover lost memories and emotions, heal the loss of a loved one, attract what you designer while you sleep, and even how to use crystals to attract prosperity in your life. Be open to their suggestions rather than fight them and you’ll find a whole new world will open up to you, whether its dealing with any of the things I mention here, reclaiming your self worth, which we all lose from time to time, learn how to forgive, unblock your creativity, or how to literally turn off other people’s judgments. For more information and to order, click here.

The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindness

One of my favorite writers of all time in the mindfulness category is Pema Chodron and while most of her books aren’t new, they’re worth reading again and again.  After my divorce, someone gave me her book When Things Fall Apart and it literally changed my life. While it may have a depressing title, it is anything but sad. While she does encourage you to sit with your “stuff,” – the bad, ugly and uncomfortable, she suggests that by doing so, you’ll actually get through the mess much faster than if you try to fight it, in that lovely gentle Buddhist way she has about her and her no-nonsense writing. Originally from Canada, this Buddhist has so many great reads, we could list them all, but one of the more recent re-reads for me is The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Kindness. For those of you who think this title might sound too gentle, that’s precisely the point. The word kindness is such a powerful word.

Not only does she guide you into integrating meditation into your life, but she does so in a way that doesn’t require a lot of time or ‘figuring it all out.’ Less of a bible or encyclopedia that the first book we recommend on meditation is, this book is more of a meander through kindness, especially to yourself, which means letting go of some of the old that holds you back and not beating yourself up so much. Chodron’s interpretation of the Buddhist principle of loving-kindness helps you lead a mindful, compassionate life and part of that is loving yourself.  For those of you older than forty, you’ll remember the earliest of Sesame Street episodes where one fo the characters faces the screen and starts singing: “The Most Important Person in the Whole Wide World and you don’t even know it.” This couldn’t be a truer lesson to learn, and if we only could learn it as children, we wouldn’t be fighting with ourselves as adults.

We can only love others when we first love ourselves and we can only experience real joy when we stop running from pain. The key to understanding these truisms lies in remaining open to life in all circumstances. As humans, when we truly embrace all of it: the happiness and suffering, intelligence and confusion that are a natural part of life, then we can begin to discover a wellspring of courageous love within our hearts. For more information and to order, click here.

Help Yourself: Pro-Immunity and Anti-Inflammatory Guide

I personally love guides and this one by Helen Macy is a great one to tackle one of the things that plagues me when I overdue it: inflammation. We all have it at different times in our lives and as we age, it starts to build up as we don’t release stress in a healthy freeing way. With the onslaught of technology that controls and dictates our life and our day-to-day getting more packed and taxing, we need ways to cope and destress.

I typically avoid books that have the word HELP in them because I immediately think of a book that has jumped on the bandwagon of the self-help category and also because many people run from a book that suggests we actually NEED help. Guidance, yes, but help? We hate to admit it. The truth is, we all need help along the way and it’s hard for most of us to ask for it and even beyond asking for it from someone else, doing things on a regular basis to help OURSELVES.If we don’t feed the machine that allows us to thrive (our bodies), we can’t stay healthy. Think of our bodies like a car and so often we run the car ragged and don’t fill up the tank with nourishment, oh so essential if we want to be successful. Imagine letting your car get so low that you forget to fill it up with gas or change the oil. What happens? It eventually stops running and the same thing applies to our bodies.

Our bodies don’t just need nourishment, but it needs love, kindness and stimulation and we often look outside to find those things, when we can actually give it to ourselves and the best thing about relying on ourselves, we can do it whenever we need it.This plays to mind/body/spirit connection and creating a lifestyle that keeps us healthy, from maximizing the benefits of our dietary intake while simultaneously boosting and promoting your own health without the intervention of medicine. This great read contains valuable information about topics related to health and disease and their natural remedies possible that you can make and use at home. They provide you with a diverse list of preventive remedies as well as treatment option that are natural and free of any harmful side effects that western medicine sadly can have. Inflammation, immunity, and brain power are three core pieces to these lessons.  When I learned about alkalinity and eating more alkaline foods to decrease inflammation in my body, it changed my life. They include foods and dietary suggestions to help, such as diets to improve body immunity, how to treat your inflammation with food (did you know that Turmeric which you can cook with has anti-inflammatory benefits?). They also have a chapter on useful food to increase your mind power.  For more information and to order, click here.

The Modern Guide to Witchcraft

From the author who co-produced the first book on our list: Best Meditations on the Planet, Skye Alexander’s newer book on witchcraft is mesmerizing. I stumbled on this book back east this summer and a month later, it was on our doorstep and Anthony and I have both been devouring it. We were first drawn to her style of writing — quite simply put, it just flows in a seamless beautiful way that is both educational and engaging. For those of you who are wondering what witchcraft has to do with mind/body/balance, read on. Sure, you can learn how to create a love potion I suppose and there are remedies for this in many a’ book on modern and ancient witchcraft, but is that what you think of when you think of witchcraft? What words or images does it conjure up in your head? Scary and evil or pure and natural? Or, does it depend.

We’ve all been fed so many stories about witchcraft since the turn of time, that if you’ve ever visited Salem, read about the Witchcraft Trials or even further back in history to women who have stoned to death, because Christians felt that using natural remedies to heal or help was related to the devil. Huh? And yet, many people still have that association with witchcraft today. What if it were more about a connection with nature and the natural world, using witchcraft to create your own sacred space and promote good energy? What about if it was how to harness your own inner power and simply trust yourself to create a beautiful life and shape your own destiny rather than having others do it for you.

Incantations, potions, and charms are all part of this read, all of which are designed to help you trust your own inner wisdom and regain your confidence in your own knowledge and inner force. In some ways, it’s not unlike what many of my Buddhist reads suggest and loving kindness and feeding your own soul is all part of this journey.

Skye suggests that we are all in fact, magicians and we can not only tap into that inner magic we already know how to do, but we can get help from Gods and Goddesses in our lives — think of them as guides, guardians and other spiritual helpers and healers. Ever feel as if you had a Guardian Angel at some points in your life? The truth is we all do, but so many of us are closed off to the innate world of spiritual energy, we tend to fear it rather than embrace it. The book includes things like how to create a sacred space in your own, and in a very Feng Shui-like way (we’ll explore feng shui books later), you can do things to clear energy, such as a purifying ritual bath, setting up an altar and shrine and the significance of doing so, how incense and essential oils can help you and what their magical properties are, and how to create ‘spells’ to clarify your goal.

While she does in fact refer to them as spells, think of them as incantations if you like when verbal and natural ingredients when tools or physical items are needed, like candles, essential oils, perhaps some Bay Leaves or Blackberries. There’s a section on health as well and quite frankly, if you’re not already using natural herbs you can grow in your own garden, then why not? Massage therapists today always have lavender on hand and often will use it in their massage oil. Why? Because lavender is such a great herb for relaxation, just as peppermint is wonderful for nausea and stomach ailments and Dandelion can be useful for stomach disorders. Comfrey on the other hand can help congestion, garlic is useful for cleaning wounds and preventing infections and Aloe is great for burns. She even tells you when the best time to plant those herbs are and why. From creating more wealth in your life, to understanding the power of your dreams, you’ll be enlightened.

Dreams can actually help you work through your problems if you’re aware of what they mean and can better understand why you’re having them at a given time in your life. We learn about the magical components of gemstones and crystals. She writes, “by nature, crystals and gemstones hold on to thoughts, emotions and information programmed into them for a long time, even for centuries.” Because of this, she recommends cleansing and purifying them before using them in any of your work. Huh? Using gemstones for work? Yes, this is your own personal journey and guide and all of these useful natural things from the earth can help you in your own life work. Only by accepting that we need to do the work and by tapping into the best that nature and our internal wisdom has to offer, can we let go of some of the haunts that plague us by day and by night. Know that you’re not alone and we all face similar demons, and some of those could be left over from a past lifetime, but that’s another topic which I’ll revisit at a later time (I’m reading a useful book on reincarnation now). Two thumbs up! For more information and to order, click here.

Aerial Yoga

This one might be a strange one to find on a book list perhaps, even moreso than witchcraft for some of you. Not everyone has a yoga practice, or is open to it; it works wonders for some and others resist it and if you’re in the latter category, considering yoga in the air might be a little overkill. On another recent trip, I fell upon a studio that does Aerial Yoga in upstate New York while we were exploring the Finger Lakes in August. Fascinating I thought, and so I started to do a little more digging and came across this curious read on Aerial Yoga by Raman Shahi.
While I’m likely not going to incorporate Aerial Yoga into my daily life anytime soon, I think this interesting variation of yoga for those who already practice, could open up new heights for you, literally.  Whether its you getting bored with some of the physical activities, yoga included, that you’ve been doing for years, or the fact that yoga or dance or pilates or Zumba used to shed pounds and no longer does, Aerial Yoga could be a compelling alternative or addition to what you already practice.
Aerial yoga can be an aerial alternative to yoga that can help you get a new perspective while helping with weight loss in a similar way that a more aerobic gym workout does. Aerial yoga apparently also offers the core strength that pilates offers and the toning that lifting weights delivers. The practice is not just designed to help you build physical strength however as it focuses on strengthening you mentally as well.  For more information and to order, click here.

A Comprehensive Guide to Getting Lost in Historical Prague

September 28, 2016 by  

Share:

My first human encounter in Prague is with my driver and the juxtaposition is uncanny. He wore a Harley Davidson t-shirt, yet drove a private BMW car that was filled to the brim with spring water and nuts for his passengers. Very Uber like except that it’s a private service. I then learn that he doesn’t speak a word of English, well perhaps two and so my questions went unanswered. It’s okay, I thought – let me focus on Prague’s outskirts which I discover are far less attractive than the historical city itself.

My second encounter after checking into my hotel, is with a French woman who also doesn’t speak a word of English. She oddly looks a bit like me and given my reasonable but not extensive knowledgeable of the French language, I learn that she is waiting for her husband. I was asking for directions because it was my first day in Prague and it was already the second time I took a wrong turn, not that it mattered a whole lot. I hadn’t been back to Prague in several years and last trip didn’t cover this territory. I was an area of the city that would soon present me with some of the most breathtaking views of this historical gem I have been wanting to return to since my last visit which clearly didn’t warrant me enough time.

Oh Those Castle Views

There’s no doubt that the views of Prague Castle are breathtaking, especially at night. Talk about a romantic picturesque unreal story town visual, right? It should want to make you want to jump on a plane and head to Prague tomorrow if you’ve never been.


Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

There are also the views from the castle and they’re equally stunning by day and night — you get all of Lesser Town first and then the rest of sprawling Prague beyond it.

Below, looking up not out….a different view, a different perspective.

Walking around Lesser Town on the west side of town….

I reminded myself that I didn’t have anywhere to be except for a dinner at Valoria which was in the same area I was told, somewhere along the winding street of Nerudova that led down the back side of the castle. For a street so close to such a renowned tourist attraction, I was astonished to learn very few people knew how to direct me to Nerodova, probably for the same reasons I wouldn’t have any data on catching a boat to Alcatraz in my own city. Locals focus on different things and they avoid the spots that tourists take over, especially during prime seasons like summer and fall. This part of town was the other side of the Charles, the neighborhood called Hradčany that surrounds Prague Castle. While you’d think it would be loaded with tourists, this was only the case at the Castle and nearby squares, both of which had classic old cars for rent in a myriad of loud colors, red being a favorite.

More from my solo walk getting lost in Prague and happily doing so…..

It was in fact, easy to avoid crowds if you simply took a turn onto a random street since most people followed guide books. Going at your own pace and getting off the beaten path is critical to understanding the pulse of any city and you don’t have to migrate to the suburbs to find treasured discoveries. Taking a wrong turn purposely means you’ll likely end up lost, especially if you had a lousy map like I did at the beginning of my trip. After every wrong turn I took, the streets grew quieter and for me, that’s bliss, particularly when the architecture is so damn beautiful, you don’t really want to share it with others. It was a far cry from the thousands who flooded Charles Bridge and old town every day and night.

The below quirky shot was taken right outside Hotel Lindner shortly after I first arrived.

This little girl was in her element playing freely on a side street off Nerudova, just the way we did as children. She was a treasure to watch!

The same area…..

One of the well known squares on the west side of town….this lantern spectacle boldly stands in the middle.

Ancient Treasures

I was slightly north of Lesser Town (what a great name, right?) and while I was likely only ten minutes or so away from Nerudova as a crow flies, it took me nearly three hours to get there. Jet-legged, thirsty and sore from carrying my Canon 7D and far too many camera lenses, I ended up taking more shots on my iPhone than anything else. Fatigued from not sleeping for the last two nights, I forced myself not to give into a nap by buying a double Cappuccino at my first chance.

Soon, I’m on Jansky Vrsek. Later I learn that I was a stone’s throw from where I’d be dining later that night, but it was pretty isolated at the time. I discover a beautiful and historical St. Vitus Cathedral, which appears to be undergoing some renovation on its exterior.

St. Vitus Cathedral holds the Loreto Treasure, apparently one of the largest and most valuable Church treasure in the Bohemia. In contrast to the the Cathedral Treasury, the Loreto Treasure has works only from the the 16th to 19th centuries, which includes goldsmith art from the 17th and 18th centuries. Decadent finds include home altars, reliquaries, crowns of the “Our Lady of Loreto” Statue, carved ivory, small sculptures, paintings and jewelry.

Photo credits: St. Vitus Cathedral site

A 12th Century Monastery & Restaurant

If you head back up the hill, you’ll eventually get to Strahov Monastery in Strahov along Strahovské Nádvoří, which is a Premonstratensian Abbey founded in 1143 by Bishop Jindřich Zdík, Bishop John of Prague, and Duke Vladislav II.  My camera battery had just died, but both inside and outside are utterly impressive. The monastery was built in the 12th century. Together with the Basilica of St.George at the Prague Castle (founded in 973) and Břevnov Monastery (founded in 993) it is one of the oldest monasteries in the country.

The king at the time supported it which allowed it to become one of the most influential centers of education at the time and was supposedly the largest Romanesque building in Bohemia and one of the largest ones in Europe as well. Sadly, the monastery was plundered by the Swedish army in 1648 and later rebuilt in early Baroque style. A couple of times, I caught some negative references to what the Swedes had done by a few older locals and couldn’t help but think how European that was in general — holding onto grudges from centuries gone past or at least remembering them in a way Americans never take note. I guess the monks were all about education (reading) and their beer and there’s still a stunning library and an operating brewery worth stopping at for a tasting or two.

Photo credit: Wikipedia.

Also in the same area of Strahovské Nádvoří (literally), you’ll find Peklo, a restaurant in a 12th century cave where you can have lunch or dinner (I grabbed lunch here in the early days of my stay in Prague and sadly my camera battery was still dead). I’ve included Peklo on my Ultimate Foodie’s Guide to Prague, so be sure to check out the other gems I discovered.

Photo credit: SurvivingEurope.

Prague’s Eiffel Tower

Rather than come down the hill from the monastery, you can head in the opposite direction and you’ll find yourself walking through a wooded park and eventually at Prague’s Eiffel Tower, which isn’t particularly pretty, but the surrounding park area is oh so lovely to walk through. They call this area Petřín Hill which rises some 130 meters above the left bank of the Vltava River. The hill, almost entirely covered with parks, is a favorite recreational area for locals and of course, it also houses the Petřín Lookout Tower, which stands 63.5 meters tall and many say that it strongly resembles the Eiffel Tower, but I’d argue, minus the awe factor. The Petřínská Rozhledna was built in 1891 and was used as an observation tower as well as a transmission tower.

You can actually climb the 299 steps to reach the top of the tower and the view of Prague from the top is breathtaking. You can even catch the highest peak in the Czech Republic, Snezka, which is apparently around 150 kilometers away, so be sure to bring your zoom and wide angle lenses with you.  There’s also an observatory with a telescope, a hall of mirrors, a church, and a rose garden. You’ll find a ‘bubble man’ in the warmer months in front of the church and children flock to him like he’s candy, running around the bubbles, which is great fun to watch.

The surrounding area is absolutely lovely and very green, a great place to take kids or have a picnic. It’s also just a nice break from the more urban attractions that Prague has to offer – nature is imperative to having a positive mind/body balance experience on a trip in my opinion and a must to incorporate into any itinerary.

To reach this Eiffel Power of Prague at the top of Petrin Hill, you can either walk it which I did, or you can take the Funicular Railway, which leaves from Ujezd street in the Lesser Town (Malá Strana) near Ujezd tram stop.

Still tempted to take a nap, I kept walking until I found another place to order a cappuccino, not smart if you actually want to sleep the night through. It’s easy to get lost up here, although if you ask a local, they’ll tell you it’s impossible. My map didn’t quite cover this area and my phone was losing juice like there was no tomorrow even without turning it on. And so, I had to explore randomly and in doing so, I found a few more spots with great views…

Getting lost once again with no shortage of history, architecture and awe-inspiring spectacles…..

Czech Puppetry

Prague Puppet ShopAnother fun discovery on my journey was Obchod Loutkami along Nerudova in Lesser Town aka the Puppet Shop. Two other locations are at Jilská 7 and Jilská 22 in the Old Town, not far from the Old Town Square. Puppets are a big thing in Eastern Europe in general, and the art of Czech marionette and puppet making goes back to the 18th century. They are traditionally (and still to this today) handcarved from wood or made from plaster and come in all sorts of diverse characters, ranging from devils, witches and wizards to clowns, kings and princesses, and even Czech “celebrities” such as Spejbl, Hurvínek, or the Czech literary character of Švejk.   There are other stores of course in Prague where you can find beautiful puppetry works of art, however this one was my favorite.

Puppet artistry is so big that they even offer classes and seminars on it, so you can learn how to make them. There’s even a museum dedicated to puppetry in Prague which has a permanent exhibition of Czech-Finnish puppet animations, including film decorations, animation puppets and props.  Apparently its existence isn’t that old however — the Museum of Puppet Art was only founded in the southern Bohemian town of Tábor in 2013, their mission to collect, restore and renew the objects, working methods and traditions around the magical art of puppet films and stop motion. How cool is that?

I was intrigued by the history, tradition and all the why’s behind puppetry so I did some more research and digging. In other words, what did the museum choose to collect and why? The permanent exhibition of the Museum contains decorations, animation puppets, props and sketches from the past 25 years of Cagliostro´s Czech-connected production history. It is apparently based on the materials from the films directed by Katariina Lillqvist, a Finnish-born scriptwriter, director and producer who started her career in the late 1980´s in the Studio Jiři Trnka in Prague. During these years, 15 animated films were made here by her team, who has managed to stay together despite all the political, economical and technological changes of the challenging years of the post-socialistic society. Fascinating right?

They also collaborate with other galleries, clubs and cinemas in the neighborhood to create events, screenings, concerts, performances and joint exhibitions around Prague and the entire Czech Republic. Below are a few shots I discretely shot at Obchod Loutkami – oh so so beautiful and intricately done!

The Castle Isn’t The Only Place for Views

Finally, I found my way to dinner – Valoria has her own share of remarkable views, which you can catch regardless of season. Summer and fall are incredibly special however, since they open the porch up and there’s nothing between you and the views except for the sunglasses that rest on your nose. I ordered a still bottle of water, reflected on the flowers that sat on my pretty table and knew I wouldn’t leave this restful spot for hours. The food was fabulous as was the wine and the service, as well as their attention to details. Even the bathroom was well manicured and creative, as if they hired some feng shui expert to get it just right.

Ahhh yes, pure bliss was my dinner, the views and all her fine details….

The bathroom at Valoria

Food in Prague

As for the FOOD scene in Prague, you’ll find patisseries, sausages, pretzels and other street fare throughout the city and there are traditional restaurants, a growing number of French restaurants in the fine dining category and other ethnic treats. In fact, the culinary experience in Prague can be SO good, that I’ve dedicated an entire foodie guide to some of the best restaurants, cafes, eateries, bars and even street food. There are countless photos in this post as well, sure to whet your appetite. I’d argue that you could fly to Prague for a week just to eat and be happy as a clam.

Below, a Veal Tartar starter at Kampa Park, which they served with black truffle oil, quail egg, green apple and brioche croutons

Prosciutto with olive oil, arugula, cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese at Bella Vista where I dined for lunch one day

This French lentil Beluga salad was served with marinated beets, roasted onions, goat’s cheese, arugula and tossed in a balsamic dressing at Kotleta

 

See the Best Restaurants in Prague.

Late Night Walks

Later, you’d think I’d take the shortest route back to the hotel, however even more fatigued after wine, it took me well over an hour to find my way back. Rather than cut through and avoid hill around the castle altogether, I made my way up the hill again, only to learn later that I could have avoided it altogether and been in my bed within 15 minutes. Sigh! It meant that I was able to take in some night views of some of the alleys and streets and historical buildings that I may not have seen otherwise.

Other Useful Articles & Links:

Prague’s Kampa Park Along the River For That Romantic Night Out

September 25, 2016 by  

Share:

Ahhh yes, Prague. Breathe it all in as the sun shines on your face on a lazy sunny afternoon. Feel her energy as a romantic flare oozes from the artists and couples strolling along Charles Bridge. After spending a few hours making your way through old town, where it feels almost Disney-like, you begin to gaze at things as if you’re lost on a cloud, the way parts of Paris can make you feel, especially if you’re new to the city. Sure, there’s too many tourists, especially during prime travel months, but you can easily find an alley and get lost for an hour or so, or grab a seat in a cafe and stare out at the chaos of the crowds while taking in all the beauty that Prague has to offer.

There’s no better way to really process the Charles River than from a quiet venue that overlooks it. It’s even better than a boat unless you’ve privately chartered one and have your own captain. Prague’s Kampa Park, albeit on the ‘dear’ side for the value compared to some of my favorites in the city like Valoria, is all about romance and that’s why you’re there. This is not to suggest that the food isn’t good, but when you have a front row seat to the river and there’s serenity around you, suddenly you ‘get’ why Kampa Park gets its applause.

This elegant restaurant that touts gourmet French-style dishes has three summer terraces and a winter garden — I dined here in early September and sat out on the terrace that overlooks Charles River. The best thing about this establishment is the breathtaking views of the river, and experiencing it at least once while you’re in Prague should be on your list. Outside, its mostly two tops, so incredibly romantic to boot with an extensive wine list to choose from as well.
I started with a Prosecco and then moved onto red wine since the veal was calling my name. For red wine pairing, I started with Czech wine since I was in Prague after all — the Moravino Valtice, Frankovka Barrique, pozdni sber and before the evening ended, the waiter encouraged me to try the Palacios Remondo La Montessa from Rioja Spain. In fact, they’re proud of the fact that they offer 150 types of wines.
For starters, I went with the Veal Tartar (below) which they served with black truffle oil, quail egg, green apple and brioche croutons (oh so delish)! Other choices included a Shaved torchon of foie gras with rhubarb compote, Brasil nuts and brioche, Halibut marinated in apple brine with garlic chive oil and grapes, Seared scallops with cauliflower, nuts, raisins, and dill beurre blanc with capers, King crab ravioli with kaffir lime aioli, tarragon and orange dust, Baked langoustine tail with Beluga lentils, shiitake and passion fruit sauce, Quail with potatoes and black truffle puree, with grapes and vanilla jus, or the Salmon with pickled cucumber, mango, soy-ginger sauce and coconut sorbet.

While I didn’t have a salad, the baked beet root with fresh goat cheese, tangerines, pistachio nuts and a raspberry dressing was calling out to me as was the Burrata cheese with strawberries, fig balsamic, rocket salad (American translation: Arugula) and Brasil nuts. They had a couple of vegetarian options to choose from as well, such as an oyster mushroom tart and an Artichoke risotto with Burrata cheese. I went for Veal again for my main course — it was a veal tenderloin with ragout of green asparagus and fava beans, with a potato rosti, rhubarb and morel jus.

They brought out a ‘tater’ ball which given my limited carb diet, I was going to ignore, but in the end, decided to taste a little — it was my first few days in Prague after all and I hadn’t built up the discipline yet.

Tempting entrees included a Rack of lamb with eggplant puree, artichokes, chorizo, beluga lentils and mustard seed sauce, a Wagyu strip loin steak (I’m a big Wagyu fan), a Chicken ballotine with ricotta gnocchi with black truffles, a Canadian lobster with gem lettuce and mango, a grilled turbot with crispy artichokes, chanterelles, gnocchi and cream fraiche sauce with lojrom caviar, steamed salmon with cauliflower flan and a poached halibut with black truffles, crispy bacon, potato mash and vegetable foam. If you haven’t noticed, these guys love cauliflower and black truffles and include a lot of it in their dishes. The entrees are equally delicious and beautifully presented. The below is the a veal tenderloin with ragout of green asparagus and fava beans, with a potato rosti, rhubarb and morel jus.

Lastly, I ended the evening with a cheese plate that included Roquefort, Beafort, Epoisses, and Pico Boite — a perfect ending with a perfect view. There was also a strawberry cappuccino with vanilla ice cream, walnuts, meringue and forest berries, a Rhubarb compote with raspberries and almond croquant and a Manjari chocolate fondant with ice cream and passion fruit sauce.

It may not be a Michelin star and certainly there are better value restaurants in Prague (vis a vis price for the volume of ‘aha’ palette moments), but it’s a lovely romantic choice if you want to woo that someone or frankly, even woo yourself. Dining solo with a view like this is incredibly rewarding. As for other times of year, they’re are other great ambiance options.

Below, the covered Riverside Terrace

The Venetian Balcony

The winter garden

The main dining room

Above indoor shots, courtesy/credit of Kampa Park

The executive chef here is Marek Raditsch and the Chef de Cuisine is Milan Sedlak.

Details:

Kampa Park Restaurant

Na Kampě 8b

118 00 Prague

Czech Republic

Head to Newport’s Retreat at Castle Hill For Upscale Pampering

September 25, 2016 by  

Share:

Set in a landmark Victorian mansion on 40 acres of waterfront, Newport’s Castle Inn is 1.3 miles from Brenton Point State Park and boasts breathtaking views of the ocean on all sides. What’s nice is that the property is on the outskirts of town, so it oozes with tranquility and serenity inside and out. Outside, it’s about as majestic as it gets and during warmer months, you can dine on the patio or simply have drinks.

This upscale traditional boutique property has rooms in the mansion as well as beach houses and cottages with kitchenettes. Amenities vary, but may include fireplaces, ocean views and/or 2-person soaking tubs. Full breakfast and afternoon tea are complimentary. Oh so decadent!  Also part of the property and an integral part of its luxurious offerings is their spa, The Retreat at Castle Hill, which uses all natural Farmaesthetics products.

Farmaesthetics founder Brenda Brock started selling her skincare products in 1999 at an organic farmstand in rural Rhode Island. A noted trailblazer in “green” and herbal skincare, her traditional herbal recipes retain 100% natural status and apparently compare in effectiveness with leading dermatological brands and today, are being sold across the country. All products are made with organically grown herbs and flowers from American family farms, many harvested from the seaside farmlands of Rhode Island.

I went for a massage however they offer a variety of treatments. Note that there’s only one treatment room which is one of the things that makes this place so special. No, there’s no steam room or sauna however the attention to detail, the ‘it’s all about you and only you’ when you’re there and the use of all natural Farmaesthetics all add to the magic and uniqueness of the place. The other piece of magic is the property itself and the breathtaking views from the inn, especially around sunset.

Above, taken immediately after my treatment. Locals and visitors spread out on Castle Inn’s lawn with drinks in hand, all breathing in the spectacular views the property has to offer.

As for other treatments worth mentioning, Retreat at Castle Hill offers an Acial facial treatment, which includes exfoliation, steam, massage, masque and hydration. Each facial treatment includes acupressure and tension-relieving arm, hand, neck and scalp massage using aromatic oils and fragrant herbs to enhance the experience and boost the results.  They also do combined facial and hand treatments as well as a Saltwater soak, which includes lavender dreaming salts, to relax, soften & purifiy, a vaporbath elixir, to boost the immune support, adrenal support elixir, to relieve the effects of mental and physical stress and lastly, a warming oil, to warm the heart.

Another treatment that sounds exciting is their Rose Immersion, which involves a skin-softening Pink Sea Salt & Rose Petal Bath Soak, followed by tension relieving Rose Essential Oil Massage, and an organic Sweet Milk & Rose Dust Pore Refining Facial.

Inside, the decor is very traditional with old wood paneling, flowered wallpaper and old fashioned lights. While many spas – even upscale ones – can be clinical in nature and don’t exude the warmth you’d expect from a luxury spa, the Retreat at Castle Hill pays attention to those finer details and with its classic building and furnishings, you feel as if you’re being pampered in a castle before, during and after your treatment. Note the fireplace at the back of the treatment room. Pure bliss! Who said architecture and design didn’t make a difference?

After your treatment, be sure to take in the views on the lawn if you’re there during a warmer month. Sink yourself into a chair, order a nice glass of wine and breathe it all in!! If you happen to be visiting during a winter month, the inside is equally divine and plenty of places to cozy up!!

 

Details:

Castle Inn and The Retreat at Castle Hill 

590 Ocean Avenue
Newport, RI 02840
www.castlehillinn.com
Note: I was hosted by the inn but all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

The Ultimate Foodie Guide to Newport Rhode Island

September 24, 2016 by  

Share:

Newport Rhode Island was a place I hung my hat on many a’ weekend when I lived in Boston. In my twenties, we had a house-share in the area for those summer weekend getaways — days were spent on the beach and we ate pizza at 2 am; our nights went as long as we could extend them. With the number of pubs and harbor-side bars, it was a perfect vacation spot to go with friends, sit out on the many decks and outside patios that Newport offers and breathe in the lovely summer New England skies.

I have countless positive memories of this well known New England seasonal resort town, from swimming and lounging on Newport’s beautiful sandy beaches to dancing in the pubs, usually with an Aussie or Irish sailor. There was no shortage of handsome Irish men with stories to tell and it was the spot for locals from Providence and Boston to go on summer and fall weekends. While we drank more beer and cocktails than we did wine or fine dine in our twenties, I recall plenty of mouthwatering experiences with creamy clam chowder, fresh raw oysters and Lobster.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of delicious and fun dining in upscale restaurants, cafe and bars in Newport that will be sure to delight and surprise anytime of year. Note that this list is a combination of restaurants we experienced this past August, my favorites from days gone past and strong recommendations from locals we talked to during our stay, including Mattie, the local fixture who loves to advise Wellington Resort guests (where we stayed for our first three nights in Newport) on the best places to eat and drink. I obviously didn’t capture them all, but this will get you started on a laundry list of where to go and how to plan your next trip to Rhode Island based on your personal preferences and tastebuds.

One Bellevue Restaurant @ The Viking

While this is slightly off the beaten path for downtown Newport (aka being a stone’s throw from the main port walking area), nothing in Newport is far and The Viking Hotel where we also stayed for a few days, is located in the historical district, which is kinda ironic given that nearly every building in this fun seaside destination is historical. Remember that Newport is home to the oldest restaurant in America — the White Horse Tavern, which is listed here in this guide.

Dating to the 1920′s, The Viking is a landmark hotel which houses One Bellevue Restaurant on the main floor and has both indoor and outdoor dining options, the outdoor courtyard a perfect choice during summer and warmer months.  The dining rooms and all-day lounge at One Bellevue are welcoming, yet sophisticated. The two main dining areas, the Salon and Garden Room, seat 40 and 36 people respectively; and One Bellevue Lounge accommodates 45 people at the bar and at small tables for two or more.

They have an award-winning wine list (I was thrilled that Ferrari Carano Chardonnay was available by the glass), high-end after-dinner liquors and very hip cocktail selections, such as specialty martinis named Strawberry Cheesecake, Almond Joy and Olive It Up.  Featuring foods that go great with wine and cocktails, the All-Day Menu is divided into four delectable categories: “Raw”,“Cured Or Marinated” and “Bites”. For “Raw” lovers, be sure to order the oysters on the half shell which are oh so fresh and delicious.

We were introduced to Peruvian Sweety drop peppers here; they add them to many of their vegetable and pasta dishes, including the bed of pasta that my Lobster sat on!

Appetizers include Asian wingers with a Teriyaki reduction, Lobster nachos, a Seafood Gratin (baked clams, scallops, shrimp, and Gruyere cheese), Mussels with toasted coconut in a curry cream sauce (divine!!), Grilled Shrimp Tapas and fried Calamari with Tso sauce, scallions, peanuts and banana peppers. They do a delicious Tuna Poke which is accompanied by a few scallions layered on top. We paired our oysters and tuna poke with a Louis Latour Chardonnay – Pouilly Fuisse.

We LOVED their French Onion soup, which they make with beef stock, caramelized onions, aged parmesan and provolone. Two thumbs up!

For those who love Caprese, be sure to order the Grilled Watermelon Caprese with mozzarella, basil and balsamic glaze. We tried the Cucumber and Almond Gazpacho, which apparently was a relatively new addition on the menu and has been popular among locals. We loved it so much we asked for the recipe to try at home. More on that later….

Non-seafood specialties include Charcoal Duck in a honey thyme butter, a Cavatelli Carbonara (they serve with gluten free rice btw, a pancetta cream, peas, fried egg and parmesan), and a Statler Chicken Puttanesca with Roma tomatoes, Kalamata olives, basil and extra virgin olive oil.

We went with their ocean catch selections. They encouraged us to try the Seafood Paella for two which we didn’t order for fear it would be too filling even though it sounded exquisite — they include a one and a half pound lobster, littlenecks, shrimp, mussels, scallops, saffron rice and chorizo. On the menu is also scallops which you can get grilled, blackened or fried and a Barramundi Korean fresh water bass with pineapple coulis and spice yams.

We went for the Newport lobster (it was absolutely perfect) and the Black Pearl Salmon (both pictured below), which is copper river rubbed and served with a chocolate balsamic reduction. We had a whole lotta wow moments on that warm August evening on the One Bellevue patio.

Desserts were out of this world as well….I’ll let the pictures do the talking….

Address: One Bellevue Avenue, Newport RI 02840 

The Midtown Oyster Bar

Located in the heart of bustling downtown Newport, Midtown Oyster Bar offers the areas largest working raw bar as well as incredibly fresh seafood.  The two story historical building offer two bar areas, the first floor tavern and the second floor Burgee Bar. Three dining rooms and two outside decks allow for plenty of dining space as well as the availability for private parties.

While they specialize in oysters and you absolutely should try the Japanese Oyster Shooter made with sake, vodka, pickled ginger, cucumber and wasabi tobiko or the Torched oysters, which are lightly flamed native oysters made with Jalapeno bourbon butter and lime, there are also some great other seafood options on the menu, such as the Lump Crab Meat Cocktail, a smoked fish plate, Tuna Tartare Tacos, a smoked fish dip made with one of my favorites (bluefish), a Crudo Spicy Salmon or Yellowfin tuna ceviche, and cod chowder.

The seafood bar area is fabulous as well…

Address: 345 Thames Street, Newport, RI 02840

The Spiced Pear

The Spiced Pear is a luxe space in the historic Chanler Hotel, with fireside New England dining and a romantic terrace. They blend classic New England dishes and French influences together, all in a historical setting – the first mansion on the Cliff Walk. Think: private chateau ambiance.

Known for its signature “New England Tasting Menu,” they offer a symphony of six or nine courses of New England fare in addition to an à la carte menu. Imagine poached Maine lobster, grass fed New York sirloin, or free range duck breast all in an intimate setting.

Appetizers include Heirloom Tomato Salad with cucumber, focaccia, lemon thyme vinaigrette mint, basil and petite greens, a Sweet Maine Uni with sashimi tuna, alaskan king crab uni mousse and Crown Russian caviar, a Pan Roasted Berkshire Pork Belly with organic mushrooms, espelette pepper and cinnamon spiced Chicharrón sunny side quail egg and cider demi, and a Squash Blossom with herbed mascarpone, ricotta salata, and a roasted heirloom tomato puree. You can also get Caviar by the ounce.

They offer a delicious Surf and Turf with house made pasta, “Strube Ranch” wagyu oxtail ragout pan seared Morrow Bay and California red abalone, a Butter Poached Maine Lobster with local asparagus tips, celery, wild mushrooms fennel celery mousseline, fava beans and black truffle, Narragansett Bay Striped Bass with baby zucchini, Romanesco, baby sunburst squash, and sauce Romesco.

There’s also a Jumbo Gulf Shrimp dish with Maine Diver Scallops, the Muscovy Duck Breast with summer bean cassoulet, duck sausage, duck bacon, tomato confit petite artichoke, Cippolini, baby fennel and tangerine saffron jus and a Painted Hills Natural Sirloin with roast garlic pommes puree, grilled asparagus, and bone marrow bordelaise. So delish!

Address: The Chanler at Cliff Walk, 117 Memorial Blvd, Newport, RI 02840

Forty 1 North Marina

Overlooking Newport Harbor, this upscale, eco-friendly resort and marina is a must try if you want a trendy “seen and want-to-be-seen” spot to have drinks with friends. I’d describe it as chic and urban but right on the harbor and only a nine minute walk from the Block Island ferry and an eleven minute walk from the Long Wharf Mall Shopping Center.  Forty 1° North offers two uniquely-styled restaurant options, from casual family fare, to cocktails, to intimate upscale dining, at either The Grill or Christie’s, the latter of which is a great locale in the heart of summer where you can sit outside and sip on specialty cocktails, martinis and incredible wine.

“The Only Thing Better Than a Great Day on the Water

is a Great Meal on the Water…”

Below, the delicious Marisa Tomei, which is made with white rum, whiskey, pineapple, amaretto and grenadine.  Other fun cocktails worth trying include their super fresh martini made with vodka, cucumber and basil and a drink they call the Bee Sting, which is made with tequila, rye, honey and apple cider.

The outdoor ambiance is exquisite in summer – in comfy chairs or bar tables, or simply sitting at the outdoor bar, you’ll have luxe yachts on one side and the sea in the distance.

The outside ambiance is ever so chic and really where it’s “at” during the summer months….

Christie’s serves traditional New England coastal fare with a twist like Fried Oysters and Lobster Mac & Cheese – there are also playful menu items like White Clam Flatbread Pizza and Lobster & Crab Deviled Eggs.  From Calamari, a burger with American cheese, Fried Chicken with warm chive buttermilk biscuits and maple chili butter, and Smoked & Fried Wings with house hot sauce to a Pigs in Blanket Niman Ranch hot dog, Grilled Thai Chicken Salad cashews, with ginger lime dressing and homemade Meatloaf and Mash peas, with carrots and mushroom gravy, there are small bites and casual fare to choose from. Be sure to also try their Kale Slaw.


Address: 351 Thames Street, Newport, RI 02840 

22 Bowens Restaurant & Grill

Presented a la carte, all of their meats and seafood are thoughtfully sourced, hand-selected and aged to perfection from the best programs available such as USDA Prime and sustainable farms. They’re known for both their steak and their seafood and all steaks and chops are served with a sauce choice: Bearnaise, Bleu Cheese Butter, Bordelaise | 22B “Steakhouse”, Horseradish Cream Porcini-Shallot Butter, Lemon Caper Beurre Blanc or Hollandaise.

Yummy appetizers at this Burrata with English Peas, Snap Peas, Heirloom Tomatoes, Tarragon, Baby Greens, Lemon Aioli and Cracker Bread, Goat Cheese Polenta Fries with Arugula, Tomato, Shallot, Basil, Roasted Corn, Pesto and Lemon Emulsion, Crab Cake Oscar with Tarragon-Shallot Aioli, Asparagus, Pea Tendrils and Lemon Oil, Fried Calamari with Three-Pepper Mint Relish and Narragansett Steamed Mussels with caramelized Leek, Sherry Garlic Butter, Potato Sticks and Smoked Tomato Aioli.

There’s also Sea Scallops with Pork Belly, Creamed Corn, Cumin-Tomato Jam, Jicama and Mache, Escargot with Bone Marrow, Herb Pistou, Vol Au Vent, Frisee, Radish and Truffle-Citrus Vinaigrette and an Artisan Cheese Board which they serve with Fig Jam, Cape Cod Cranberry Mostarda, Candied Salted Cashews and Cranberry Bread and Lavash — wow right?

Like most places in Newport, you can get a traditional Shrimp cocktail, Littleneck Clams,  Oysters and a Shellfish Sampler. They also offer Steak Tartare (one of my favorites), served with Shallot, American Caviar, Caper, Fingerling Potato Chips, Horseradish Aioli and a Truffle-Citrus Vinaigrette and a Tuna Tartare, which they prepare with Carrot Miso, Ponzu, Jicama, Scallion, Sesame and Won Ton.

The healthier among you will love their salad offerings, from classic Caesar salad to a Baby Lacinato Kale with Roasted Mushrooms, Marinated Haricot Vert, Red Mustard Greens, Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette and a Sherry Gastrique. Oh so delish!
Specialties include a Green Circle Chicken with Roasted Baby Carrots, Buttered Turnips and English Peas, Fingerling Potatoes, Citrus Pate Brisee and a Sauce Supreme and a Colorado Lamp with Merguez Sausage, Eggplant Goat Cheese Puree, Rosemary Fennel Farro, Kale and a Harissa-Tomato Jus!  Seafood lovers will want to try their Swordfish with Zucchini, Tomato, Quinoa and Lemon Caper Beurre Blanc, Atlantic Salmon Fillet with Whole Barley, Glazed Baby Beets & Turnips, Rainbow Chard, Cucumber Dill Yogurt and Caraway and fresh Scallops with Black Pepper Hominy, Buttered Baby Corn, Fava Bean, Charred Baby Leek and tossed in a Fresno Chile-Peach Vinaigrette
Address: 22 Bowens, Bowens Wharf, Newport, RI 02840 

The healthier minded will be thrilled about the roasted beet and goat cheese salad, the Arugula and chopped salads, the blackened mahi mahi, the caramelized sea scallops with warm greens, fennel and olives, an oven-roasted twin lobster tail dish with butter and whipped mashed potatoes, a grilled shrimp peri peri with a warm grain salad, and the pan-roasted chicken with lemon garlic and rosemary olive oil. For steak lovers, they have a 12 ounce choice cut New York Sirloin strip steak.

Mama Luissa Restaurant

This longtime eatery on Thames Street has a few quaint rooms in an oh so intimate atmosphere. They offer classic Italian fare and great wines from the region. A few selections to give you an idea of just how authentically Italian this place is, starts with their salads, from an Esotica Radicchio Salad made with arugola, dates, walnuts, goat cheese, grapes, and dressed with honey mustard vinaigrette, a simple Mista di Campo and a traditional Caprese al Pesto Fresh mozzarella.

Other great apps include a Zuppa di frutti di mare with Sardinian couscous, crushed red pepper, roasted garlic, fresh parsley and tomatoes, Prosciutto e Melone Fresh cantaloupe with mozzarella and olives, Carpaccio di Bresaola with parmigiano, fresh mushrooms, capers, arugola and marinated artichokes, Antipasto Misto all’Italiana Prosciutto with salame, mortadella, assorted Italian cheeses and marinated vegetables and Bombette Pomodoro with homemade ricotta and spinach gnocchi.

For pasta, how about the Tagliatelle al Ragu Bolognese made with egg ribbon pasta with hearty meat sauce in the traditional style of Northern Italy, their Penne made with Arrabbiata Spicy marinara sauce with garlic and fresh parsley, a Spaghetti Carbonara with pancetta, eggs, pecorino cheese, a touch of cream and black pepper, Garganelli Boscaiola Short made with rolled egg pasta, porcini mushroom, peas and pancetta in a tomato-cream sauce, Spaghetti alle Vongole with roasted garlic and fresh parsley and the Tagliatelle with sautéed shrimp and sea scallops with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and basil.

 
As for the ambiance, how can you pass this up?

Address: 673 Thames Street, Newport, RI 02840

Salvation Cafe

While we didn’t dine here, I got enough kudos from locals to warrant putting it on the list. My esthetician from Castle Hill Inn said it’s one of her favorites for vegetarian options — she called it eclectic, fun, creative and healthy. The atmosphere is indeed funky, a natural go to place for the healthy minded and artists alike.
A view from the outside….
Some of the starter options include vegetable risotto with pecorino cheese and truffle oil,  calamari with sweet and spicy vinaigrette with wasabi cream, a cheese plate, a delicious Lobster pizza with lobster tarragon cream sauce, shallot confit, ricotta salata and lemon arugula, Baby Back ribs with soy, star anise, garlic, ginger, sesame and Napa slaw, Tuna Poke with sesame, soy, cucumber, scallions, avocado lemon aioli and wonton crisps, Shrimp and Grits with beech mushrooms, melted leeks, bacon and white corn grits, a Sweet Corn Bisque, a Chopped Lobster salad with grape tomatoes, lobster, red onion, jicama, bacon, cucumber and lemon-tarragon dressing, and a Roasted Beet Salad which they make with a Goat cheese fondant, red beets, yellow beets, chiogga beets, local greens, pistachios and toss it in a citrus  vinaigrette.

Entrees include a local fish with vadouvan spice, seasonal vegetable ratatouille with an orange fennel salad, an organic chicken with fingerling potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, Swiss chard and basil pesto, a Chili Rubbed Sirloin with mashed potatoes and chimichurri butter, a Pad Thai with rice noodles, cilantro and peanuts with a choice of tofu, chicken or shrimp, a Teriyaki Salmon with lemon coconut rice, crispy spinach and pickled ginger, a Pasta Bolognese with pork and veal ragout and a Narragansett Creamery ricotta.  Sides include Truffle Fries, Cheddar Grits, Crispy Spinach and Lemon Coconut Rice.

Address: 140 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840

The Red Parrot Restaurant

The Red Parrot building is listed on the National Register of Historical Places in Newport. It was built in 1898 and early on, it was apparently a meat packing house where it employed hundreds of people during the era known as the “Gilded Age.” Trading from the Caribbean and the South Seas, it has always been a key part of Newport history and the pineapple — when sea captains would return from the Pacific, they’d bring back a pineapple and place it in front of the Captain’s home to signify a safe return home. What a cool tradition.

We love the history of this place as well as the ambiance and the food.  A must try is the lobster nachos which includes sweet lobster meat sautéed in garlic and butter with sun-dried tomato cream, baked with mozzarella and Monterey jack cheeses melted over tortilla chips and topped with scallions. Can you say decadent and scrumptious – OMG!

 

Other scrumptious sounding appetizers include Thai Spring Rolls, Siamese Sticky Wings, Calamari Risque, which is breaded calamari served with hot cherry peppers tossed in garlic and olive oil, delicious soups and salads, and a grilled chicken with a Jamaican Jerk marinade on a bed of romaine with red onions, peppers, olives, tomatoes, and cheddar and jack cheeses (below).

For the more decadent among you, go for the Cape Cod Lobster Bisque and the healthier minded should try the Tuxedo Tuna, which is a black and white sesame seed encrusted tuna steak sliced and served rare over wild greens, mandarin oranges, and crispy noodles with a strawberry balsamic dressing. Oh so yum!

One delicious pasta dish worth mentioning for the seafood lover among is their linguini and clams which they simmer in garlic white wine broth, add a touch of parsley and red pepper.

There’s also fish and chips, Mandarin Coconut Chicken, a Blue Iron Steak,  grilled swordfish steak topped with shrimp and scallops, capers, tomatoes, garlic and butter served with Jasmine rice, grilled chicken, lobster meat served in tortilla chips and fresh mussels.

Oh yeah, and the cocktails are fabulous as well!

Address: 348 Thames Street, Newport, RI 02840

Brick Alley Pub

This is a cozy iconic watering hole with eats ranging from nachos to lobster rolls and over 250 wine vintages. While I haven’t eaten here in years, I remember it being an iconic place for years and this time around, was a stone’s throw from our first hotel — the Wellington Resort on Thames Street across from Brick Market Place. I came here in the winter once and it was a lovely place to be fireside on a colder evening. In the summers and early fall while the weather is still warm, they have a nice tree-shaded courtyard as an outside option to dine.
Think comfort and casual fare, from Newport Clam Chowder, Fried Point Judith Calamari, Nachos, Beef Short Ribs and Pasta Pomodoro. They have a menu dedicated to pizza but plenty of salad options as well, from Hot Buffalo Chicken Salad, Nona’s Italian Tossed Salad, a Greek Salad, a Harvest salad with Great Hill Bleu Cheese, dried cranberries, sliced apples and walnuts or you can create your own lettuce wraps.
Photo credit: Zagat
They have what they refer to as complete dinners also, which include chicken, pork and seafood as my favorite picks. Traditional dishes include a Chicken Parmigiana which is pan-fried with tomato sauce, parmesan and mozzarella, a Lemony Chicken Piccata with white wine, lemon butter and capers,  a T-bone pork chop that is pan-bronzed with Cajun spices, and Baby Back BBQ pork ribs.
Fish lovers can order salmon or scrod fillet “your way” with a few different sauces (pan-bronzed Cajun, lemony piccata or broiled Teriyaki pineapple glazed, an oven roasted New Bedford scrod with chourico, kale, chopped tomatoes, white beans, garlic and crushed red pepper, a Baked Stuffed Jumbo Shrimp with bread crumbs, white wine, butter, crabmeat, chopped scallops, mushrooms and Jack cheese, and an old fashioned Baked Stuffed Fillet of Sole to mention a few.
Address: 140 Thames Street, Newport, RI 02840

The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar

The Mooring incorporates catch of the day seafood which is locally grown and organic produce into their menus on a daily basis and they tout award-winning wine lists that feature more than 600 fine labels. The decor is classically traditional and all things New England inside so a great pick regardless of season. It was a haunt we’d occasionally go for that fabulous glass of wine when I lived in Boston many years ago.

If you’re a raw bar lover, they’ve got you covered with fresh oysters on the half shell and you can also get lobster claws, shrimp, littleneck clams, a whole chilled lobster, fresh crab from Maine, and a variety of soup and salad options.

Other delicious appetizers include an Andouille sausage, braised leeks, marinara, focaccia 12 galilee squid flash-fried rings and tentacles, Pepperoncini peppers, olives, roasted garlic and lemon aioli, crab and shrimp fritters with chipotle-maple aioli, scallop Wellington scallops, mushroom and spinach in phyllo, lemon-thyme beurre blanc, Tuna Tartare with a pomegranate-soy dressing, sweet & sour cucumbers and wonton crisps, an Artisan cheese plate with candied walnuts, dried fruits, honey, crackers and crostini and a crab cake oven roasted with veggies and an aurora sauce.

Seafood lovers will be thrilled by their diversity from North Atlantic Sole, Portuguese roasted cod, scallops, yellowfin tuna, Atlantic Salmon, and of course, traditional Maine lobster, my ultimate favorite.

For those who aren’t into food from the sea, there are plenty of other options as well, including a delicious gnocchi with roasted oyster mushrooms, wilted greens and riesling jus, a pork tenderloin grilled, with succotash and raisin mustarda, a Yankee pot roast slow braised beef, Angus beef filet whipped roasted garlic potato, and a New York strip steak. Two thumbs up!!

Address: 1 Sayers Wharf, Newport, RI 02840

White Horse Tavern

The reason White Horse Tavern makes it on this list is for its ambiance and its deep rooted history although their food is exquisite as well. I love that they’ve been sourcing from Local Farms and Waters since 1673. It was one of the first places I visited when I came to Newport for the first time, which is now over 25 years ago.

Touted America’s Oldest Restaurant, they serve fresh fish, clams and lobsters from Narragansett Bay along with just-picked produce from local Rhode Island’s farms. From delicious artisan cheeses, honeys to prime cuts of beef and local fish right off the boat. If you love history, you’ll love this Colonial tavern that’s literally been serving America for over 350 years.

We didn’t hit it this time around except for to take a quick peak around, but this 17th century Tavern is one not to miss on your next Newport trip. Note to newbies: jackets are not required but collared shirts are expected and they ask that you remove hats and turn off your cell phones – it’s a bit like old England in that way and while I typically hate rules, I love the fact that they’re maintained this over the years.

Because its Newport after all, you’ll find Narragansett Bay Littlenecks and local New England Oysters on the menu as well as a Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, and shell fish samplers. If you want to venture outside of the traditional seafood starters, a must try is their Strawberry Gazpacho soup (below) — look at how beautiful the presentation is as well.

Photo credit: bostonfoodie.blogspot.com.
While we’re on the topic of beautiful presentations, take a look at their exquisite Lobster Risotto…..
Photo credit: bostonfoodie.blogspot.com.
A delicious salad here that many talk about is their Waldorf which they serve with red grapes, apple, celery, candied walnuts and Great Hill Blue Cheese and Buttermilk-Herb dressing. A great plate to share as a group or family is their housemade Charcuterie with locally sourced cheese and pickled vegetables and house made relish and sauces.
Or, how about something very European to start like a Dutch Scotch Egg which they wrap in Duck sausage, bread it and then deep fry? There’s also a decadent housemade Sriracha and Honey Bourbon Sauce Crispy Brussels Sprouts with a Maple-Tahini Dressing, Sesame Seeds and Shaved Cured Egg Yolk. You’ll also find fried calamari and a Micro Celery Crispy Heritage Pork Belly with a Peanut Butter Vinaigrette (yes, really), Sesame Seeds, Toasted Nori Dressing and Pickled Carrots.
Some of the entrees include a Beef Wellington, a Foie Gras Pâté with a Perigeaux Sauce, a Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette Grilled Wagyu Ribeye Steak with Herb and Beer Mustard, Fingerling Potatoes with Bacon, Marinated Grilled Vidalias and Chimichurri Steak Frites, a Prime Flat Iron Steak with Au Poivre Sauce and Hand Cut Fries, a Royalton Farms Berkshire Pork with Summer Vegetable Succotash, Confit Potatoes, Micro Herbs and Chorizo Vinaigrette, a Native Swordfish Au Poivre with Herbed White Beans, Broccoli Rabe, Citrus and Peppercorn Sauce, the Sumac Crusted Tuna with Toasted Fregola, Golden Raisin and Bell Pepper Agro Dolce, a Roasted Fennel and Black Garlic Aioli Pan Roasted Gianonne Chicken, a Crispy Duck Breast with Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Whipped Pinto Beans, Sorrel and Bacon Dashi Butter and of course a Poached Native Lobster with Rhode Island Grown Mushrooms, Asparagus Tips and Shaved Asparagus. A wow is in order in the Whitehorse Tavern’s dining room.
Below, the Tuna Tartare
Photo credit: bostonfoodie.blogspot.com.
 Their delicious beet salad beautifully prepared….
Photo credit: bostonfoodie.blogspot.com.

Address: 26 Marlborough St • Newport, RI 02840

The Black Pearl Restaurant

The Black Pearl is an atmospheric wharf bar and formal restaurant with nautical decor, famed chowder and a busy summer patio with tons of great ambiance. When we had a house share in Newport in my twenties, we used to sit here for hours in the afternoon and order local beers and cocktails. In other words, during the warmer months, be sure to sit outside — it’s great for people watching. During colder months, the inside bar is historical and eclectic and there are plenty of choices, from cocktails and spirits to beers.
This truly historical bar is located in the heart of the city’s bustling waterfront on Bannister’s Wharf, and their classic cuisine for your foodie list is from their Commodore’s Room and Tavern as well as the al-fresco Waterside Patio and raw bar. Be sure to order a dozen oysters on a hot summer afternoon with a Margarita. During the evening, their patio ambiance is wonderful as well.

Like so many Newport establishments, it boasts a lot of history and its building was constructed in the 1920′s. Decades ago, back before Providence had a restaurant scene, elegant dining in Rhode Island was epitomized by The Black Pearl, which back then, had tuxedoed waiters.

Since it is located right on the water, the seafood is oh so fresh. There’s littleneck clams on the menu as well as grilled and steamed Lobster, shrimp and crab, smoked salmon, Nantucket scallops, Swordfish steak, shrimp scampi, sauteed soft shell crabs, and Black and Blue Tuna. Soup lovers should try their homemade creamy clam chowder which my friend Carol and I had one afternoon – it’s apparently been voted one of the top ten clam chowders in the country.

Photo: Yelp, untagged

Meat lovers will appreciate their Prime New York Sirloin, Filet Mignon, their Moulard Duck Breast, the Calf’s Liver, Karabuta Pork Chop Milanese, Free range Statler chicken breast with a green peppercorn sauce or the Rack of Lamb which they serve with a Vacluse sauce. Accompany any of these with one of their varied healthy salad options and add a protein.

Photo credit: BiteoftheBest.

Address: 1 Bannister’s Wharf, Newport, RI 02840

Rosemary and Thyme Cafe

This great find is a homey, European-style cafe and bakery offering an array of creative, seasonal sandwiches and pastries. They are most known for their salads and their Artisan soups. While I have never eaten here, we couldn’t get enough high fives on this place from locals regardless of who we asked.
Oh yeah, and their bakery is divine — they offer a ton of options and some people say that it’s worth going just try one of their homemade (fresh every day) pastries or muffins. Take a look — could you say no to any of these homemade baked treasures?
Address: 382 Spring Street, Newport, RI 02840

Bouchard Restaurant

This quaint restaurant which is also an inn, is a ten minute walk from the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum (worth getting a tour of) and 1.7 miles from Easton’s Beach. At the inn, pastries and yogurt parfait are served in-room each morning. The on-site restaurant is oh so French in style, cooking and ambiance.

Delicious choices include a Pate de Foie facon, a tower of cold shrimp garnished with a Shredded Brussels Sprout Slaw with three sauces: Tomato-Cumin, Blood Orange-Curry and Chive and Mint and Jalapeño. This one is a must: Carpaccio de Filet Mignon a L’Huile de Truffe garnished with arugula, Caper Berries, Truffle Oil and Sea Salt. Oh so decadent and scrumptious!  Lighter options are also divine, such as their seafood apps and salads – portions are small but beautifully prepared and ever so tasty!

Other dishes worth mentioning include a Lobster Bisque with basil and garlic, their Foie Gras with a raspberry reduction sauce, a warm tomato tart with Boursin and goat cheese topped with a Truffle Aioli, and Escargots flavored with parsley and garlic, topped with a Mousseline sauce. Oh so delish and, the ambiance is top notch as well.

Photo: untagged, Yelp

Address: 505 Thames Street, Newport, RI 02840

Fluke Wine, Bar & Kitchen

This gem of a find in Newport offers seasonal modern American dishes (particularly savory snacks & local seafood), as well as fabulous harbor views. We dined at Fluke on our next to the last night in the area so we didn’t leave this harbor vacation spot without making sure we hit a Newport favorite with great wines. Every great wine bar and restaurant has a delicious cheese and charcuterie plate to choose from and Fluke is no exception. YUM!
Photo credit: Fluke
Starters worth mentioning include Fluke Ceviche with Red Onions, Peruvian Corn, Aji Amarillo and Coriander and Lime, Jonah Crabcakes with Red Slaw and Mustard Aioli, Grilled Vegetable Tarte made with Herbed Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onion and a Balsamic Glaze, Crispy Wellfleet Oysters topped with a Mango Pepper Relish and Red Chili Mayo, and a house made Ravioli filled with seared Foie Gras and Medjool Dates in Parmesan Broth.
We went for the Grilled Beet salad, served over Arugula with Pistachio Pesto, and Goat Cheese and tossed in an Orange Vinaigrette, the Mesclun Green salad with watermelon radish, shaved feta, egg, red onions, and croutons tossed in a red wine vinaigrette.

Scrumptious mains include Pan Seared Scallops with Jasmine Rice, Baby Bok Choy, Green Beans, Chili and Lime Glaze, Local Skate with Pastrami Spices, Leeks, Savoy Cabbage, Eggplant, Mustard Seed and Lemon Caper Sauce, Lobster Ravioli with Brandy Cream Sauce and Citrus Zest (this is a WOW dish), Roasted Monkfish with White Beans, Chorizo Secco, Kale and Roasted Tomato Shellfish Broth, and a Vegetable Farrotto with Seasonal Vegetables, Farro, Parmesan, Fresh Herbs and Herb Oil.
More traditional dishes include a Roasted Chicken with Baby Rainbow Carrots, Spinach, Fingerling Potatoes with Natural Jus, Grilled Pork Belly with Sauteed Collard Greens, Sweet Potato Puree with Stout Chili Glaze, and a Grilled Australian Lamb Rib Chops with Sauteed Kale, Chive Mashed Potatoes with a Citrus Honey Glaze. Meat lovers will want to try the Grilled All Natural Ribeye with Morel and Oyster Mushroom Demi Glace with Herbed Mashed Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus.
My favorite was the Rabbit Orecchiette with Cherry Tomatoes, Fava Beans, Caramelized Onions, Spinach, Herbs and Parmigiano Reggiano — oh so delicious!!

Also worth mentioning is the Striped Bass with roasted tomato and corn and Baby Bok Choy, tossed in a Black Garlic Vinaigrette. Out-of this-world (still thinking about this dish a few weeks later) is their Long Island Duck Breast with wild rice and corn, Rainbow Swiss Chard, in a Red Wine Cherry reduction.

A must try small plate dish is the Sea Bass Crudo with Jalapeno, Frizzled Leeks, Fresh Lemon and Yuzu/Ponzu sauce and the Yellowfin Tuna Tartare with scallions, Jalapeno, Wasabi cream and wontons. If you have kids in tow, go for the French Fries with Roasted Garlic Aioli.
Desserts were out of this world as well — bravo for the Goat’s Cheesecake with Blackberries, the Hazelnut Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta with whipped cream and toasted hazelnuts and Blueberry Bread Pudding with whipped cream. Or, how about their Fluke Cafe, which is made with hot coffee, B&B, Khalua, Maison Rouge Cognac and whipped cream. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, go for the Cheese and Charcuterie plate.

The cheese and meat plate was pretty amazing as well, either as a starter to share with the table or at the end of your meal!

Address: 41 Bowens Wharf, Newport, RI 02840

Sweet Berry Farm 

Sweet Berry Farm is owned by Jan Paul and Michelle Eckhart and comprises approximately 100 acres with 80 acres under cultivation just outside Newport.

In 1980, they started as a hobby farm growing just a few acres of strawberries and Christmas trees.  Then they joined a few local farmers markets, began adding other crops to their repertoire and became more and more passionate about growing.

From just a farm stand set up under a few white canopies, next to an old goat shed, they have come a long way. Back then, their jams and jellies sat on shelves and racks and cut flowers were stored and sold in the shelter of their house. Although they are not certified organic, the majority of their crops are pesticide free. A few crops are minimally treated, often with organic sprays. They practice IPM (Integrated Pest Management) and sustainable agriculture techniques.  We loved the vibe of this place — from sunflowers and tomatoes in the garden to Apple trees, there’s a lot to take in!!

Address: 915 Mitchell Lane, Middletown, RI 02842

Pasta Beach Newport

This is a special Italian gem in Newport (with restaurants also in Providence and Boston) that in my opinion is under rated. Marco is the king here — original owner and chef from Bologna who believes in pure sauce, one which isn’t overdone with garlic and simmering, but with a two step process, which we learned about from a chat with him after our dinner on a most perfect August night at his Newport locale.

His perfect sauce is one that includes a sauteed and simmering of carrots, onions and celery and then only a day later does he add the sauce. Oh so delish, from the basic tomato sauce he adds to his Pizza’s to his Calzones, Focaccia, apps and pasta dishes. Below is by far my favorite pick of the evening, the Pappardelle al Cinghiale with wild boar, mixed vegetables and herb ragout.

Appetizers include Bruschetta, Broccoli e Pecorino - broccoli, garlic, red pepper flakes and shaved pecorino romano,  Bufala mozzarella with fresh tomatoes, oregano and basil, Parmigiano prosciutto with parmigiano reggiano and fresh mozzarella and our absolute favorite: Parmigiana di Melanzane, which is a baked eggplant, smoked scamorza, fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce and pesto.

Salads include a mixed greens verde mista, an Insalata mista with tomatoes, a tre colori arugula with radicchio and endive and a Tre Sapori arugula with cherry tomatoes and parmigiano reggiano. There’s also a classic Caprese salad that is to die-for — can you say authentically Italian? We love your cooking Marco!!

Fun options include a Napoletana homemade baked eggplant, tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and mixed greens (below), a Nizzarda Niçoise, with potatoes, green beans, olives, eggs, tomatoes, tuna, anchovies and mixed greens, a Pollo grilled chicken with tomatoes, roasted red peppers and mixed greens, the Gamberi shrimp with cherry tomatoes and arugula, and a Fagiolata tuna with white beans, red onions and mixed greens.

They have a choice of soups and a wide range of pasta dishes.  Pasta Beach uses only Pasta “De Cecco” and fresh egg pasta and they serve their pasta “Al Dente” and oh btw, Marco makes sure of it.

Some of their more delicious incredibly fresh choices include Penne all’Arrabbiata with tomato sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes and parsley, Tagliatelle Asparagi e with Prosciutto asparagus, Parma prosciutto, cream, parmigiano reggiano and parsley, Tagliatelle ai Funghi with champignon mushrooms, garlic, cream, parmigiano reggiano and parsley, Bucatini all’Amatriciana with tomato sauce, bacon, onions, white wine and parsley, Spaghetti alla Carbonara with crispy bacon, egg yolks, black pepper and parmigiano reggiano and one of my all time favorites, Tagliatelle alla Bolognese in a classic Bolognese meat sauce.

If you’re a pizza lover, go to town here, from a basic Margherita with fresh sauce, mozzarella and basil or the Ortolana with endive, artichokes and onions, Del Povero with Pepperoni, olives, fontina, oregano and basil.

Other delicious pizza choices include Napoli with capers, anchovies and oregano, Sarda with tomato sauce, mozzarella, olives and ham, Prosciutto Funghi and di Parma with ham, arugula and mushrooms, Salsiccia which is with tomato sauce, mozzarella and sausage, Spinaci, a pizza plate with tomato sauce, mozzarella, spinach and garlic (oh so yum!) , a Rucola with tomato sauce, mozzarella, arugula, and parmigiano regiano or a simple Vegetariana (a vegetarian’s delight), which is made from simple tomato sauce, mozzarella, eggplant, zucchini and red peppers.

They also make a homemade Gnocchi al Pesto Genovese with basil pesto, green beans and potatoes and seafood lovers will want to opt for their Spaghetti alle Vongole which is with clams, garlic, red pepper flakes and parsley or their Spaghetti ai Frutti di Mare which includes clams, mussels, shrimp, tomato sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes and parsley.

Pasta Beach also has simple but scrumptious sandwiches made with fresh baked Pasta Beach focaccia and the thinner Italian Focaccia crispy pizza crust pies with olive oil, salt and rosemary, or Bologna ham and pistachios. How can you pass this one up?

BTW, I don’t normally make a note of the coffee but the coffee here was out of this world and I mean out of this world (I had 2.5 cups and we didn’t leave until around 11 pm). Bravo to Marco and his culinary team. I LOVE THIS GEM and can’t wait to try his Providence and Boston locations.

Address: 7 Memorial Boulevard, Newport, RI 02840

Wally’s Burger & Rotisserie Bar

Full disclosure for the more fine dining foodie among you, Wally’s is a very casual burger joint along Thames Street in downtown Newport that caters to a younger crowd although it also appeals to families as well – there’s a bag toss game in the front of the restaurant which is a fun thing to do on an August evening with kids.

As casual as it may be, they have a wide array of burger options to choose from when you’re in that burger mood, including American Kobe and Bison. Other options include Texas burgers made with Angus beef, Ahi Tuna Burgers, Turkey Club burgers and Black Bean burgers to name a few. They always have a daily special board which includes additional options as well. When we were there, they had a Caprese burger option as well as one topped with Goat Cheese and mushrooms. YUM!

Also known for their Chicken Rotisserie and they’ve apparently won awards for their fries, which are crispy and tossed in a Rosemary sea salt. Fried food lovers should give their Sweet potato fries a try.

We ordered salads and burgers and sides of their pickles and my favorite, their oh so creamy crunchy cole slaw, which is a must on a hot summer night.

The dish that you’d least expect to find at a burger joint in Newport isn’t actually a dish at all, but an Espresso Martini, which is popular with locals. Two thumbs up — it was fresh, perfectly chilled and has a delicious espresso coffee flavor, a perfect substitute for a dessert.

Address: 599 Thames Street, Newport, RI 02840

 

 

 

 

Next Page »