Czech Cuisine your Czech Grandmother Would Like
Czech cuisine in restaurant Havelska Koruna: dishes your Czech grandmother would be proud of, if you had one. Once you have tasted Czech favourites like vepro-knedlo-zela in other words pork, dumplings and sauerkraut you will come back to Havelska Koruna again and again. This traditional restaurant serves tasty food at a very affordable price and is right in the centre of Prague. You will find here a broad clientele from office workers to retirees to the occasional tourist.
Only few tourists because the menu written on the wall is in Czech and even though the restaurant is self-service, you still have to tell (in Czech) what you want to eat. The golden rule is: you can ask for information about the meals served only when it’s your turn to order and the snag is that hardly anyone speaks English. All you can do is point at the food you fancy and hope you like it.
Czech Cuisine and Self-service Canteen Style
Havelska Koruna is a self-service restaurant canteen style with a touch of nostalgia from long gone communist days. At the entrance is a turnstile and a booth. On one side you pay and on the other you get a slip of paper on which your order is noted. Continue on to the buffet and let the serving lady load your tray. First the salads that are charged by weight, then soups and then the main courses. It is difficult to distinguish between pork schnitzel and chicken schnitzel or between beef goulash and Hungarian goulash. Your order will be marked on your order sheet.
Traditional Czech Cuisine
Restaurant Havelska Koruna specializes in typical Czech dishes such as Moravian sparrow (pork with cabbage) cutlets, cheese soufflés, schnitzels, chicken drumsticks and goulash. They all look more or less the same and it is difficult to decide which is which. Then you choose mashed potatoes or bread or potato dumplings. Czechs are no vegetable lovers, and apart from the salads there is only spinach on the menu.
In Czech Only
And now the tricky bit. A main course serving lady takes a plate and looks at you questioningly. You point at a piece of meat or the goulash. Now comes the tricky bit. She will ask: “Kolik knedliko?” You raise one or two fingers and she will put the correct number of dumplings on your plate.
And then there is beer
You move along food bar. Another staff member has one hand on the tap and the other hand reaches for a beer mug and then he waits. It’s your turn to choose – big or small – that you want beer is indisputable. A glass of Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus or Birell tastes great with your meal. The main course lady and the beer man put a squiggle on your order sheet.
Join another party
The tables in the restaurant are for four people and it is customary to join others. When it is very busy, usually between noon and 2 pm, you eat your meal standing at one of the high tables. When there is room you can take a table in the sunny conservatory room or in one of the cubicles that hold a table and seat four. In the evening it is a lot quieter. Please note: Havelska Koruna closes at 8 PM.
Pay at the cash desk
When you’re done eating, clear away your dirty dishes and take your order sheet to the booth at the exit. The cashier deciphers the circles and squiggles and works her cash register. The amount you will have to pay is on your receipt. It’s a piece of cake, not a single Czech word is needed! Do not lose your order sheet, because then you will have to pay 500 CKZ (€ 20). That is certainly double the price of what you have eaten.
Restaurant Havelska Koruna, is very close to Wenceslas Square and on the tourist trail towards Charles Bridge. The restaurant is opposite Havelske open-air market where you will find vegetables, fruit and souvenirs at inflated prices, and tourists.
Address: Havelska Koruna, Havelska 23, Nove mesto, Prague
Opening hours: 7 days a week from 10am to 8pm.
Public transport: Metro line B station Mustek, tram 3, 5, 6, 9, 24 Narodni trida stop
Photos Marianne Crone