A vote of confidence for Parlament
Modern Czech cuisine and fine service
Posted: September 11, 2013
The National House at náměstí Miru has long been one of those underused buildings in Prague. The 19th century neo-Renaissance structure by architect Antonín Turek, located on a prime corner, should be center of local life. Aside from some fitness and dance classes held inside, it hasn't been very inviting to the public. A new restaurant is happily giving the landmark some foot traffic.
Vinohradsky Parlament bills itself a hospoda, but once you go through the main entrance it is clear that it is a bit more. The multilevel interior is decorated with white-and-black tile that invokes the mood of a 1930s subway station. A large clock with the Parlament logo also invokes a rail theme. Stylized maps of Prague surround the walls in large rectangles and little strips. Large balls of light hang down from the high ceiling, making the place unusually bright. The outfits on the servers match the white-and-black theme. While the place is large, the layout breaks it up into smaller areas so you don't feel like you are in a giant cafeteria. There is even more seating upstairs on a balcony.
While not apparent at first glance, the place is related to the Potrefená Husa chain run by brewer Staropramen, itself part of the Molson/Coors portfolio. Parlament, however, has a bit of a different menu that stresses modern Czech cuisine. Among the items that are conspicuous by their absence from the evening menu are guláš and svičkova na smetane.
Instead, the choices include rabbit in cream sauce (169 Kč), Přeštice pig cutlet (219 Kč), roast duck with apple (169 Kč) and Blatná carp with garlic and caraway (165 Kč). All of the choices include appropriate side dishes in the price. Before 6 p.m., the items are cooked on a lava grill while after six it's a charcoal grill.
Korruní 1, Prague 2-Vinohrady
Tel: 224 250 403
Hours: Mon.-Wed. 10:45 a.m.-midnight
Thurs.-Fri. 10:45 a.m.-1 a.m.
Sat. 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
Sun. 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m.
If your not very hungry or want to experiment, there is also a selection of smaller dishes that push the envelope a bit. The menu recommends ordering two in place of a regular meal. It is somewhat along the idea of a tasting menu. Intriguing items include tripe with ginger and nutmeg, beef cheeks with parsnips (239 Kč), and fried beef tongue and roast pork belly with homemade potato salad (95 Kč). It sounds more like soul food than Czech cuisine. Not that a good soul food restaurant would be unwelcome. A note at the front of the menu says all the ingredients are locally sourced when possible and everything is prepared at the restaurant.
The menu also gives the name of the head chef and his CV, another oddity for a place that pretends to be a pub. Jan Pipal previously worked the Grand Hotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary and O2 Arena, among other upscale places. His picture on the website shows his hair slicked up in a stylish pyramid. This is clearly someone who has some modern ideas about how to handle local ingredients for pub food.
The Prague Post decided to put the place to the test by arriving without a reservation at a peak hour, carrying a folded map and a guidebook and asking in English for a table for one. The server at the door gave the place a quick glance and replied in very good English that it would not be a problem. He also produced an English-language menu that had clear and accurate translations of the food items, and the same prices as the Czech menu.
While the tripe, tongue and pork belly were truly enticing choices, the Post opted for pork neck marinated for three days in beer, with hot pepper salad, grilled potatoes and horseradish mustard included (165 Kč).
Before the meal arrived the Post ordered a beer from the tank. Parlament has two types of tank beer, and the server did bring the slightly more expensive 11 degree (33 Kč per half liter), but the difference is only 4 Kč. In all, the pub has five types of Staropramen beer on tap plus a selection of nonalcoholic beverages including homemade fruit soda.
After my beer arrived, another waiter came by and put small mug-shaped shot glass with a foamy yellow liquid on my table and said it was a gift. Often this is a scam pulled by unscrupulous restaurants to gouge extra money, but true enough, the shot was not on the final bill. It was a friendly gesture. About a dozen people in my area got the free shots, which tasted like apple strudel.
The meal did arrive in a reasonable amount of time, and the waitress, now the third person to serve me, was truly pleasant, as was the meal itself. Pork neck can be a bit tough - requiring a saw rather than a knife - and marinating will help to soften the meat. But many chefs confuse marinating with dipping the meat in sauce for a few minutes. This meat had truly been marinated for some time, no doubt the full three days that the menu claims. It was easy to cut and the beer flavor had permeated all the way to the center. Even the usually inedible fatty parts were soft enough to cut.
The hot pepper salad was pickled cabbage with some tangy red pepper slices, quite flavorful and certainly not from a supermarket jar. The horseradish mustard also wasn't an over-the-counter variety. Thin strips of sliced horseradish were mixed in by hand. It went well with the small grilled potatoes, which were welcome change from french fries.
The dessert menu had a few nice options as well, and a slice of summer blueberry cake with warm rum, melted butter and homemade blueberry ice cream (59 Kč) was the ultimate winner. It was nicely presented with a mint leaves on top, and the ice cream, filled with frozen berries, helped enhance the flavor of the crumb cake, although the portion could have been a bit bigger.
All in all, Parlament offered a fine dining experience at a very reasonable price. The large main dining room was smoke free, and while it was a bit bright, that didn't seem to bother anyone's conversation. The menu is a bit limited in terms of the number of choices, but it is better to do a few things well than a lot of things poorly. Vegetarian options were also limited but there is a salad with blue cheese and pears (142 Kč) and baked cauliflower (135 Kč). There is also an ever-changing lunch menu until 3 p.m., with some interesting choices.
On weekends, a reservation would be a good idea if you have group. A plus also is that it is open fairly late, to midnight or 1 a.m. except for Sunday when it closes at 11:30 p.m. They tap room next door is open to 2:30 a.m.
Raymond Johnston can be reached at
Tags: Czech food, soul food, pork, beer, Staropramen.
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