Prague Bar & Cafe, Sandringham, Auckland
I first visited Prague Bar & Cafe last Saturday night, after being recommended it by one of the waitresses there when chatting to her at work a while back. I had driven past it many times, but it always seemed pretty crowded, and I prefer to dine in an quiet a restaurant as possible.
Boy and I were actually headed to Kingsland to check out the fare on New North road, but when we saw that the tables on the footpath outside Prague were empty, we figured we’d give it a try (We were craving tapas and I’d checked the menu online to see many delicious sounding treats).
Walking in the door, we were greeted by the waitresses/bartenders, both incredibly friendly, one the epitome of the flirty,outgoing barmaid, the other clearly still in training. It was (not to seem rude) a relief to go to a restaurant and be served by New Zealanders- it’s becoming the norm for solely immigrants to own and work at restaurants now, so it was a welcome change.
We grabbed a couple of beers and took a seat outside to pore over the tapas menu (please note- Prague also has an extensive breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner menu), and had a mission of a time trying to narrow our choices down to just a few dishes, everything sounded so good.
The full menu can be found here.
Apologies for the lack of pictures, eating outside at night doesn’t exactly lend itself to taking pictures, but I can guarantee you that the dishes were beautifully presented.
Arancini: The well known tapas dish, and the most delicious way to use up leftover risotto, these dishes delivered exactly as expected- a generous serving of crumbed rice balls, served piping hot and crispy with aioli for dipping. I scoffed them down, pretty sure Boy only managed to get one. If I had any complaint about them, it would be that they’re a little bit too large to eat in one bite, making them a little bit messy to bite/cut up to eat. Otherwise- creamy, delicious and more-ish.
Mini Eye Fillets wrapped in Bacon: I didn’t personally try these, red meat being something I avoid; but Boy pronounced them delicious, with perfectly cooked steak in adorable cite-size parcels. Aesthetically, these are SO CUTE, all wrapped up in their little bacon blankets.
Salt and Pepper Calamari: A generous serving of squid tubes, scored and lightly dusted with salt and pepper before being fried. Calamari is one of those things which is so easy to do right, yet so commonly done wrong, but Prague did not disappoint. Perfectly tender and well seasoned, I could have gone back for more and more.
Olives and Crostini: I have been to quite a few restaurants recently which think an olive appetizer is fine to consist of six olives and three slices of bread. This is not the case at Prague- they served a generous bowl of black and green olives, sun-dried tomatoes and delicious slices of crispy crostini- I would buy that crostini by the bag, it’s so good. The olives were for the most part nice, but a few of them were a bit over-ripe and had to be left on the plate.
Bread and Dips: Turkish bread with hummus, sun-dried tomato pesto, and olive oil-balsamic for dipping. Again, so easy to do well, but so many restaurants skimp on the bread. This was, again, not the case at Prague, big slices of toasted bread with delicious dips (which also went well with the olives and crostini).
Churros: To finish our feast, Boy and I ordered a plate of churros with chocolate dipping sauce. Huge serving of PERFECT mini churros, crispy on the outside, pillow-soft in the middle, melts in the mouth, I would eat these all day long. These are churros the way they’re meant to be, the complete opposite end of the spectrum from those dry pieces of cinnamon-y crap they try to pass off as churros at Hell Pizza.
Bonus: Crème Brûlée: This wasn’t actually on our menu, but the waitress, sensing that we are easily convinced when it comes to purchasing large quantities of food, asked if we would like to try it, and we were glad we did. Velvety smooth custard with a perfect sugar crust (which I TOTALLY got in first to crack) and a divine chocolate-lemon flavour. Not too sweet, the perfect way to finish a perfect meal.
Drinks: We had beers and a Snickers shot (which I cannot pass up when I see it on a menu), but Prague boasts a large selection of wines, beers, spirits and a decent cocktail, shot and espresso coffee menu for such a small place.
We actually ended up going back the next night after being unable to decide where to yet yet again, and had the Salmon rolls from the tapas menu (delicious), the calamari (still delicious), the Mushroom Fettuccine (creamy and delicious), and the lasagna (pronounced by Boy as amazing). The restaurant was quiet and on Sundays they have a special on the pastas ($10 a bowl!).
Pros: The food, AMAZING. Nightly food and drinks specials (aforementioned pasta special, 2 for 1 cocktails on Thursdays, $20 for 2 tapas and fries during happy hour, to name a few- subject to change), attentive, casual service, long opening hours.
Cons: Quite a small venue, with 3 footpath tables, a small courtyard and about 4 or 5 tables inside.
Overall rating: 10/10, this is my new ‘local’, and I can’t wait to go back.
Prague Bar and Cafe
599 Sandringham Road
Parking: Ample on surrounding streets
Price: $9-20 for breakfast/brunch, $10-20 for lunch (with great $10 ‘light lunch’ options for small meals), $7-13 for tapas, $15-30 for dinner.
Hours: Sunday-Wednesday: 7:30am-10pm