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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Zanzibar / Tobruk

Let me start by saying that I like Zanzibar.

I like its laidback atmosphere, consistently friendly service, and pleasant location by the fountain at the intersection of Americká / Záhřebská. It has one of the best ranges of coffees and drinks in Prague, as well as an expansive menu of light dishes (omelettes, baguettes, toasties, tortillas etc). Collectively this makes for one of the few genuine "catch all" locations in the city, where you can head for breakfast / brunch / coffee / drinks / a light bite with friends alike at any time of the day. I often see people working (or at least pretending to work...) in there with their laptops, a testament to the genuinely homely and unhurried nature of the establishment.

There is also a lesser-known sister restaurant called Tobruk, located a little way off Revoluční in Prague 1.

The menu at both places is identical, but Zanzibar definitely has the edge on vibe / location, with Tobruk being stuck at the end of a fairly untrafficked cul-de-sac, and as a result ending up conspicuously empty pretty much every time we've been. On the other hand, Tobruk is significantly nearer to my house, and is therefore the most frequented of the two when it comes to brunch (as Mr K will testify, proximity is of the essence when Knedlikova's morning blood sugar is low...). Any time after this though, and Zanzibar is definitely the preferred option.

On the food front, the offerings at Zanzibar / Tobruk are kind of like Mexican but without the spice - by which I mean that on the surface the individual dishes may each appear different, but in fact they are all essentially variants of the same key ingredients, namely a combination of bread, egg and salad in some way, shape or form (and that's not meant as a criticism by the way!).

The last time I stopped by at Zanzibar was on the way home from work in the evening for a quick drink and a bite. The sun was making one of its frustratingly periodic nice days at the time, so I sat outside. Thirsty after a hard day's work, I started off with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc (69kč for 0,2l), which went down very well. It was hard to decide out of Zanzibar's long list of cocktails (virgin and alcoholic), fresh fruit juices, milkshakes, flavoured teas and coffees etc what to go for as a follow-up drink (needless to say, the wine hadn't lasted long...). For the sake of variety (and sobriety), in the end I went for a lemonade with a shot of blackberry syrup (39kč). This was a good choice - very pleasingly refreshing and sweet.

To eat, I went for one of my old favourites, the burrito with sun-dried tomato omelette served with sour cream, green lettuce and taco sauce (139kč). This came out pretty quickly, and was unfussily presented with the customary to Zanzibar three grapes on the side. Balsamic vinegar and olive oil were also brought to the table, which was good as apart from the blob of sour cream the side-salad wasn't dressed and still needed a bit of a kick.

This was a little blander than I'd remembered, and I didn't detect any sun-dried tomato inside this time round, only fresh. Maybe the kitchen had run out. It's not your standard Mexican burrito by any means (for one it's stuffed with rolled-up omelette, and the so-called taco sauce had a decidedly artificial, out-of-a-bottle twang), but as a variant of the trademark Zanzibar egg-bread-salad combination, this was certainly one of the most creative. With a little salt and pepper, I was both happy and replete.

My next visit was to Tobruk with Mr K one Sunday afternoon for brunch. On such occasions, Mr K invariably goes for the omelette with cheese and mushroom (79kč), which comes with a small side salad with mustard dressing.

And, of course, a meal at Zanzibar wouldn't be complete without the obligatory bread to add to aforementioned egg / salad mix... ;-))

I always try to start the day (relatively) healthily with the Paris Salad (129kč), made with boiled egg, cheese, ham, carrot, tomato, mushrooms and mustard dressing. La Crêperie take note, this is how you make a salad.

Mr K also loves the coffee, practically mainlining a good two or three Big Filter Coffees at 42kč per mug on each and every visit. I myself prefer to go for one of the great teas from the Harney's range they stock (usually the Hot Cinnamon Spice with three types of cinnamon, orange peel and clove - yum).

Which just about wraps it up for now for the justifiably popular Zanzibar / Tobruk duo. Neither one places you'd necessarily go for the food specifically, but more the chance to enjoy a bite and whatever tipple from their vast variety takes your fancy - whether with company or computer - in a relaxed, unhurried environment. Not much more to say on the subject than that really - in short, highly recommended!!


  1. I'd like to give one or both of these a try for lunch at the end of the month ... y'know ... in the spirit of "compare and contrast" ...

  2. We tried out Zanzibar on Saturday and found it very very average. The ambience and music were cool, nice atmosphere. Coffee decidedly bland, croque monsieur was a typical czech ham/cheese toastie...urrrrrgh. We sent back the waffles, which were the yukky pre-fab ones out of a packet, not even warmed up, with a blob of squirty cream. (At least they had the decency not to charge for that!). We're still searching for the perfect brunch venue, and this unfortunately isn't it!