Grilled Half Cornish Hen
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What: Vepřo-knedlo-zelo is shorthand for roast pork (vepřová) with bread dumplings (knedlíky) and stewed cabbage (or sauerkraut; zelí), a dish that’s in the top tier of classic Czech cuisine. It’s still a lot of meat and carbs, but when done well, it can feel lighter than some of the other sauce-drenched meat dishes popular here, perhaps because of the cabbage, which lends a subtle sweetness to the plate. Also, it’s a vegetable—always a welcome addition to a Czech meal.
Where: The terrific Lokál (two locations including Dlouhá 33, Praha 1), staunch purveyors of homemade, high-quality Czech cuisine, serves up a lovely version of this dish, and offers it with unpasteurized pilsner straight out of the tank—definitely the best way to wash down a meal like this (see also: local craft beer, pilsner).
When: Mon-Fri, 11am-1am; Sat, noon-1am; Sun, noon-10pm
Order: The pečená vepřová krkovička (115 CZK), translated as “roast neck of pork, steamed cabbage,” was served with two types of knedlíky, bread and (yellow) potato, which were great for mopping up the wonderfully light gravy. The pork was tender and the cabbage deliciously sweet, with a faint apple flavor. The seasonal menu changes frequently, but among the dishes we’ve tried and liked here are tatarák, španělský ptáček, párky (hot dog sausages), fresh trout, and rakvička.
Alternatively: Most traditional-style pubs, like U Pinkasů (Jungmannovo náměstí 15/16, Praha 1, map)—another so called tankovna pub serving the freshest of pilsners, from the tank—will offer this meal, though it may likely be made with a heavier hand than the version at Lokál. Also worth mentioning, though it’s not the same exact dish, is the excellent pork tenderloin, or vepřová panenka, at Café Louvre (Národní třída 22, Praha 1, map), for which tender pork, marinated in rosemary and garlic, is served with a pile of soft stewed cabbage, diced green apple, and bramborové knedlíky, or potato dumplings, studded with cubes of deliciously salty ham.
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