Grand Cru © Grand Cru
Ask any discerning foodie for advice on eating out in Prague, and they’ll march you straight to Kalina. One of the Czech capital’s most esteemed restaurants, it’s helmed by local master chef Mirek Kalina, who cut his teeth in prestigious Michelin-starred kitchens across Europe. His own cuisine is classic fine dining with a distinct Czech flavour and a subtle seasoning of French finesse. Here, he reveals his favourite food haunts in Prague.
What defines traditional Czech cuisine?
Rich dairy products like butter and cream, eggs and also mushrooms and fresh water fish like carp or bream. The Czech Republic is landlocked, so our fish supplies largely come from rivers and lakes.
What do you savour in the local food?
I love humble, classic meals that remind me of my childhood.
What traditional dishes do you recommend visitors try while in Prague?
Butter-fried veal schnitzel. This is a simple comfort food that you’ll find in many Prague restaurants. Also, they should try Bramboračka. It’s a traditional Czech potato soup made with diced vegetables and vegetable stock. And then, of course, our local freshwater fish.
Where do you like to eat out in Prague?
When I’m eating out in Prague, I like to go to Grand Cru, a restaurant and wine bar that serves fantastic international fine dining cuisine. Divinis in Prague’s Old Town does the best Italian food in the city, while Zdenek’s Oyster Bar serves complex and creative oyster fusion dishes as well as first-class Champagnes.
Has the food scene changed much in the city over the last decade?
It has definitely progressed in terms of quality and innovation. Chefs are becoming more experimental in their approach to traditional cuisine.
Do you have a signature dish that you serve at your restaurant, Kalina?
That would be our roasted veal sweetbread. It’s served with rigatoni pasta, egg yolk croquette, glazed chestnuts and cream of black truffle.
Tell us a little about your journey to opening Kalina…
I started out in a very casual restaurant in Prague called Vlachovka. Later, I moved to Aqua restaurant under Chef Jaroslav Žídek. After that, I worked at the fine-dining restaurant Kampa Park alongside executive chef, Marek Raditsch.
I then moved to Oslo, Norway to work at chef Terje Ness’ restaurant ORO, before heading to Pavel Pospíšil’s Michelin-starred Gasthof Krone in Baden-Baden, Germany. Later, I trained at Les Prés d’Eugénie in France under the supervision of Michel Guérard.
How would you describe your cooking style?
Traditional but inventive Prague cuisine, with a touch of French charm.
Who inspires you?
The American chef, Thomas Keller. His restaurant The French Laundry in Napa Valley, California, is one of the best in the world.
What staple ingredients could you not live without?
Salt, pepper and lemon juice.