Every year I tend to go on a short European city break with my school friends just before Christmas for a catch up. There are four of us plus husbands/boyfriends and now a toddler taking the group up to nine! Finding places none of us have been to is difficult and this year it took us to Prague!
In group scenarios it is often more difficult to go to safe restaurants with everyone having a say and having a hungry child to accommodate makes it harder as you don’t want to drag them all over the city. Having said that my friends and family are extremely good at accommodating me and letting me choose safe places to eat, I just don’t like them having to go majorly out of their way so some planning ahead helps keep everyone happy!
Our trip to Prague was a two night city break, so this is certainly not an extensive guide to eating gluten free in the city as I only sampled a few places but should help with any weekend breaks or as a starting point for longer trips. Prague is a beautiful city and one that a two night trip didn’t do justice, especially when your Sightseeing attempts are slowed down by a young child! Flights are cheap as is the city making it an excellent choice of location when trying to squeeze something in just before Christmas!
We stayed at Hotel Yasmin, a lovely modern hotel in a central location that we all felt was good value for money. Breakfast was included in the rate so we ate there both days for convenience with a large hot and cold buffet available. I normally email hotels to see what they can do gluten free and they responded that I would have something gluten free available. This was a separate table that had gluten free cereal, bread that was covered with a napkin, a gluten free cake that I added some Nutella to and I also noted a jug of soy milk. They also had an omelette station so there were enough options to set me up for the day!
As we all arrived at different times on the Saturday, flying in from different U.K. Airports I made the most of it by going for lunch at one of the gluten free restaurants before the others arrived on slightly later flights . This was a restaurant that I would have been disappointed to have missed – Svejk u Karla. From my research this was the place I was most looking forward to as they have an extensive gluten free menu that is also available online. After arriving and asking for the gluten free menu I could see why it had been recommended, you would have not have known that it was the gluten free menu from the food on offer- schnitzel, dumplings, apple strudel and beer as some of the stand out items! I opted for the pork schnitzel and my boyfriend had a normal chicken schnitzel. When they came out he was so disappointed in his as mine was about twice the size! -this was not due to it being gluten free but due to me somehow ordering the schnitzel special just for me which in hindsight must have been some sort of sharing plate as it was huge! I was about to make up for the lack of times that I can eat schnitzel in one go!! It was so delicious and I was disappointed in myself that I had to send some back, it was just too big! I can 100% recommend this restaurant and would say it’s the top choice for coeliacs in Prague as it gives you a chance to try the local cuisine. They even put gluten free flags on their food to make you feel even more confident about eating it! If you want room for apple strudel though, make sure you order a normal sized portion!
The dinner for Saturday we booked ahead of our visit for a table at Terasa U Prince, the restaurant that is in Hotel U prince. I had read that they did gluten free and the views looked amazing. The only thing I couldn’t work out is where we actually would be sitting as the attraction of this restaurant is the outdoor terrace and views over the city, something that I thought would be closed in winter. However, we arrived to find that we were sitting outside with heaters and blankets and it made for a great, unique experience. We had views over the square all lit up and it was fab! Definitely try and make it here, even if it is only for a drink.
The gluten free options were marked on the menu but they only had two starters, neither which appealled to me so I just had a main course. However that was outstanding – saffron risotto with scallops, some of my favourite things!
Trip advisor reviews are very mixed – the views are rated as amazing but many criticise the food for being overpriced and for the service being poor. We had great service and food. It probably is expensive by Prague standards, but at £15 for this dish it isn’t as extortionate as the reviews make it sound (although I am used to London prices!) but even more so you are in the Old Town opposite the astronomical clock with amazing views so about as touristy as it gets – and with that come higher prices and I personally accept that.
On the Sunday morning we did some shopping sightseeing and needed a lunch time stop. We looked on google maps to discover we weren’t too far from Cafe Louvre for some food, somewhere that had been recommended to me on my instagram.
This bustling cafe is over 100 years old and the menu had a couple of gluten free options marked using a number system to identify allergies. They also had a specials menu that we translated using google translate. What an amazing app – we held the phone over the menu and almost instantly it was in English so an app I’d recommend having on your phone for when you’re out and about! The specials menu didn’t use the number allergen system but one of the options was listed as gluten free when we translated it. I checked it was and ordered only to be told it was part of the evening menu. I tried to order something else and they had sold out and after that I was struggling as there weren’t many things labelled as gluten free. However, the waiter then told me that the chef would do my first choice for me as a lunch meal as I needed a gluten free choice. The meal of chicken with a creamy sauce and mash was ok, nothing amazing but we were all happily fed and the turtles in the tank entertained the toddler all the way through the meal!
That night the hotel tried to make a reservation for us at Alriso, the 100% gluten free Italian restaurant in Prague – cue bitter disappointment for me as it was fully booked! I needed a back up plan, which was Cafe Uno which hadn’t been top of my choices due to being located in a shopping centre. However we needed to eat so headed over there as I was struggling to find much else, and with a group of nine we didn’t want to go looking for gluten free food, it was easier to go somewhere that we knew could accommodate. The Palladium shopping centre was actually very pretty all decked out in Christmas lights and the food far better than expected for this type of location.
The highlight for me was the awesome goats cheese starter, which four of us ended up ordering. I followed this with a prawn spaghetti olio dish (there was pasta and pizza on the gluten free menu, but I always feel pasta is less hassle to try and get gluten free when I don’t know the place without as much fear of contamination!) Dessert was a mega creme brûlée. I know some people aren’t keen that this is often the gluten free dessert but I am always grateful to have more than fruit offered, plus I absolutely love a creme brûlée!
On the Monday we were flying home, and I’m not a fan of eating out before travelling. With that in mind we decided to give Alriso another go for lunch, and this time they could accommodate us – yay!! When we went we could see why Sunday night could have been a problem as the restaurant isn’t that big and the nine of us pretty much took up all the ground floor. The staff welcomed us into their gorgeous Italian restaurant and passed around the bread, which I loved. I ended up with quite a lot of it, so I’m not sure if the gluten eaters weren’t so keen or if they were being nice as it’s not something I get a lot of!
We had some time before we had to head off for our flights and knowing we would be home late decided on a three course meal (possibly as I was absolutely insisting we had dessert!)
I ordered calamari for starter, which I regretted! This isn’t because it wasn’t nice, it was but the calamari wasn’t battered so didn’t feel like a real gluten free treat whereas my boyfriends tempura prawns were simply amazing and what I recommend you order if you like prawns! Luckily for me he shared them with me!
There was no decision required on my part for the main meal – I quickly chose the lasagne which is something I never see on a gluten free menu! Three of us ordered this and one is still going on about how good that lasagne was, the best in fact they’d ever had despite eating gluten – the ultimate praise!!
The rest of the group either ordered steak, which would have been a naturally gluten free meal or pasta. Would a fussy two year old eat the gluten free pasta or would they notice the difference?! -the verdict – he didn’t even notice and merrily ate his bowl of tomato pasta! The only dish that anyone said they could tell was gluten free was the spaghetti as it had a stronger taste or texture making it feel different. The steaks, lasagne and pasta all got a big thumbs up!
Now for dessert with so many to choose from it was a tough choice but the molten chocolate pudding won it for me and oh my days it was simply divine. Just look at that picture with the chocolate oozing out the middle, it tasted incredible! Not being a coffee fan I don’t generally pick the tiramisu but my friend did and loved it! One of the other dessert choices was a melting chocolate ball where hot chocolate was poured over the chocolate ball and it melted in front of us, putting on a bit of a show but my friend wasn’t too happy that half her dessert had melted away so bit of a mixed reaction on that one!
The drink stop
There will always be times when you feel different being Coeliac whether it’s being insanely happy at getting a surprise gluten free menu, all the groups Bread or an incredible dessert! However there are times when feeling different isn’t for the good such as watching everyone eat apple strudel on a coffee stop! I did manage a mulled wine but it just isn’t the same! It did the trick to warm me up though in the cold, wintery weather.
However, there is a pick and mix sweet shop where all the sweets are in separate barrels with separate scoops and allergens clearly marked. A majority of them were gluten free too so I bought a bag and they made for a happier flight home although be warned they are incredibly expensive!
Sightseeing in Prague
We only had a short trip but the city was just so beautiful to be in, particularly at night when it was all lit up. We saw the main sights of the Old Town Square including the astronomical clock and there were some Christmas stalls that we had a wander around. We also saw the bridge and the Castle. We stopped several times for drinks and did some shopping, stopping in all sorts of shops from Hamleys to this adorable ginger bread shop (not gluten free but just so cute and I found some great biscuit cutters to buy in there!)
I would recommend Prague to anyone, it is stunning and good value. I’m not sure if there are enough gluten free options to last for a long trip and I’m not not sure how easy it is to go into normal restaurants and get gluten free as it’s not something I really did as I had enough recommendations for my two night trip. These recommendations I would happily pass onto you as I ate extremely well during my time in Prague with some of the food being completely outstanding and worth the trip alone! For more blog posts and information on Prague and the Czech Republic see my extensive gluten free in Europe post.
If you decide to visit Prague don’t miss Svejk u Karla, Alriso or the amazing views from Terasa U Prince. I hope you enjoy Prague as much as I did!