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Saturday, May 29, 2010

La Gare

A visit to newly-opened French brasserie La Gare yesterday marked my first foray into “formal” restaurant reviewing, and bloody hell is it tougher than it looks. In reality it’s actually not all that easy trying to balance discretely taking photos (without looking to the restaurant staff like some retard photo-obsessed tourist / Health & Safety department spy) with jotting down every single item you ordered / its price / what it tasted like to boot, rather than simply wolfing it down unreflected upon as usual, all the while trying to put up with Mr K spouting glib platitudes like, “Oh, the presentation is nice, sweetie, you could put that in”, and still retaining my cool on top of it all too (a task which on this occasion I unfortunately spectacularly failed to achieve). Suffice to say, I have a new-found respect for Brewsta, that’s for sure.

Occupying the long empty spot just off Namesti Republiky where Patriot X used to be, La Gare has (according to the waiter) only been open one week, and aims to dish up a variety of authentic Gallic cuisine cooked and served by mainly native French / French-speaking staff. It also has a small cheese and charcuterie shop in the side-section where, as I recall, Patriot X used to serve ice-cream. I was initially a bit confused as to why the place was called La Gare (train station) when their logo was clearly that of a rooster, until Mr K observantly pointed out their iconic train station clock at one side of the restaurant interior, which incidentally we both felt was very warm and inviting.

The menu is written in a slightly confusing mélange of French and Czech, and runs the usual Gallic gauntlet of meat, fish and poultry dishes (vegetarians aren’t catered for well here). I also spotted quiche, omelette and eggs Benedict on the menu, which I made a mental note of for potential new brunch spots. Speaking French (reasonably well) and Czech (ahem, not so well), I asked our francophone waiter to talk us through some of the menu items we couldn’t quite decipher for ourselves, which he did very comprehensibly. I for one was just grateful that I now knew not to order the tucek šneků...

To start with, we ordered the Hortala red wine from the Languedoc region, priced at 355kč, and a bottle of sparkling Badoit mineral water (also French) at 95kč. I normally prefer New World wines to French, but this one was very drinkable. As I recall, only French wines were featured on the menu.

A basket of freshly baked French baguette and salted butter was also brought to our table. I am not a fan of this kind of dry, chewy style bread (even when that’s how it’s supposed to be), but Mr K enjoyed it. This entailed a couvert charge of 35kč.

As a starter we shared the shrimp salad á la papa Bocuse (175kč). This came with six large, fresh shrimps on a bed of lettuce and citrus fruits. We both really enjoyed the shrimps, and to my surprise even the grapefruit (not normally my fruit of choice) was likewise quite sweet and not too overpowering here. For two people to share it was an ideal portion size – for one it may have been a little much.

As a main, Mr K went for the magret de canard au miel et quatre épices (195kč), while I opted for the rabbit cooked in red wine (155kč).

Of the two, I think Mr K made the better choice. His duck was tender on the inside with a crispy skin, and came in a sweet (but not cloying or sickly) sauce. My rabbit was also nice and generously portioned (on reflection that must have been one gigantic rabbit), being served in a hearty gravy and with the meat melting off the bone. I don’t get the chance to eat rabbit often, so this made for a welcome change.

The mains came with a side selection of carrots, asparagus and mashed potato, collectively priced at 85kč. From my point of view, the carrots and asparagus were slightly underdone, but that is perhaps only because I was raised in that renowned nation of culinary barbares (namely the United Kingdom), where we tend to boil our sprouts etc to within an inch of their lives before consuming. I have to say I loved the mashed potato though, which had a really nice garlicky taste to them with just a hint of sautéed bacon and onion.

La Gare does not have a dessert menu as such, but rather the waiter brings a selection to you on a plate and talks you through each one. We went for the one at the bottom of the picture (65kč), which in the absence of any concrete menu description I will simply term choc-chocaty-choc-choc-fudgy-marzipan-truffle-delight. If you couldn’t already tell from the description, we loved it... :-))

Finally, Mr K rounded off with a pleasant café au lait at 45kč.

All in all, we couldn’t really fault La Gare, which we felt offered up well-cooked, nicely presented (my concession here to Mr K – sorry we fell out) food at reasonable prices, with service / timing / ambience all pretty much spot on as well. It’s only a week in, but if La Gare continues to keep their game up to this standard, Monsieur K and I will definitely be coming back for more...


  1. Based on your review I visited this place today. The personel was a bit too disorganized and the manager was too jovial, but the food was great. And since I love seafood and escargots, I'll come back to taste some more.
    I had the chicken Tajin from the daily menu (great) and grundle (very good too).
    Keep up the good job. Your reviews are really helpfull :-)

  2. Wow, am amazed someone actually acted upon my recommendation!!!

    Service was great when we went there, but at the time it had only been open a few days and we were one of only two or three tables in.

    Glad you liked the food though and thanks for reading!