Wednesday, June 12, 2013

VRSOVICE




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This week's bike ride brought me back to Vrsovice, where I used to live from 2003 to 2008. One of the reasons for starting the blog was that during the time I was living in Vrsovice I never really ventured much further than the pizza restaurant on Vrsovicka. The area has changed a lot since 2003. There was no shopping centre or football stadium at Eden and not really anything vaguely interesting about the area apart from the fact that it was close to Nusle and Vinohrady and cost under 200czk in a taxi back from a drink with the boys in the centre, but I am glad to say that this time around the area has improved a lot and I found lots of interesting places that are worth visiting, one of the notable mentions is Zubaty Pes on Petrohradska, which from the outside doesn't look like anything special but when you go through the door and you find yourself staring at the 16 draught beers that are on offer, you suddenly realise that you have stumbled upon a beer lover's paradise and Ferdinand on Bulharska, which looks like a very basic pivnice but put into that equation the excellent beer on tap and simple but well made beer foods and friendly staff. You have a winning formula.
        One thing that is noticeable when cycling around Vrsovice is that you are in a valley from one side to the other, you go down one side and up the other, not very pleasant if you are a lazy cyclist as I am and someone who detests going up steep slopes. The area would have made an excellent vineyard in the past and maybe it was. I added this sentence later as I found out surprisingly that there was a vineyard in Vrsovice in the past, ha ha. What an intuitive mind I have. It's a man's world ;-)
         At first glance Vrsovice doesn't seem to have much to offer. It is only serviced by trams and buses, there is no metro in this district, so getting to the centre can be a bit of a drag, though if you get familiar with the trains from the train station in Vrsovice then suddenly the whole city is open to you with trains going directly to the main train station and Vysocany within a very short time indeed. Of course there is a lot of sport to see in this area with football being the main sport to see at Dolicek if you are a Bohemians fan and at Eden if you are a Slavia fan. There are other teams of course and I could mention them all but I just don't have the time or space to write them down.
      You used to be able to watch Ice Hockey at the Slavia stadium though now Slavia play at the O2 arena which is conveniently my new local area. There is also a full size outdoor swimming pool close to the former Slavia ice hockey stadium and for those looking to be more environmentally friendly a farmers market at Kubanske Namesti which is held on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and also a regular market opposite Dolicek as well as play areas in Abundance all over the place, actually as a father I never had a problem finding things to do with children in the area or in the areas close by. Vrsovice is one of those areas where I have seen an awful lot of changes in the time I have known it and I can only see it improving and judging by the amount of new businesses that I have found during my 2 recent trips to the area I feel very positive that it will only get better and if I still lived in the area I would be very satisfied with what it has to offer and wouldn't feel the need to have to go into the centre very much if not at all.

Review

Tonight I finally managed to get to Osteria Da Clara only to find that it was fully booked though the Manager was very polite and after a quick call to the Owner, was able to squeeze me in and just my luck the table was outside the front of the restaurant which I would normally be happy with but after being invited into the restaurant to peruse the long list of specials, I would have preferred an inside seat to be honest though speaking as an experienced hotel professional, I would suggest having 2 sittings in the evening if they do get that many bookings on a regular basis as it would definitely increase there turnover but maybe they don't and then they should pay no attention to this big mouth.


Osteria da Clara
www.daclara.com

The restaurant specializes in Italian food and the list was extensive and difficult to make a choice from so I pulled out my joker card and asked the Manager to recommend something. It was obvious to me that he likes melon and why not but I wasn't in the mood for fruit so as soon as the owner recommended chicken livers and Puntanesca I was sold. Also for a change I went for a wine – a nice robust Chianti and tap water which was offered served in an old fashioned chemical receptacle previously used to store some kind of aggressive acid I presume.


The Chianti arrived and was shortly followed by the home-made Foccacia and Ciabatta. I knew it was home-made because I had recently got interested in Artisan breads and one of the first breads that you learn to make is Foccacia so it had all the hallmarks of a home-made bread. Soon after my Antipasto arrived. The pate was very course similar to a rillettes, if my French serves me well and was served on toasted Ciabatta, it was very tasty, seasoned well and matched the depth of the Chianti.

There was a nice break between the antipasto and the Main course, which suited me fine as the starter was very generous and I needed some time before the main course if I was going to manage to devour it. During this time there were a few more tables arriving, mainly couples as I could tell and the restaurant does have a very personal feel about it. The owner is working as well as her Manager and they are very friendly and willing to help you. The décor on the inside definitely has a woman’s touch and it creates a very warm and gentle atmosphere and the music in the background blends in well with that. While waiting for the Main course to arrive the Manager was interested in my accent and where I was from, which he guessed was British but didn't sound like the co-owner and chef's London accent, so I confirmed that I was British and that I came from the better half in the North West of England to my amusement of course.

 

The main course arrived, perfect timing as my stomach had just found enough space to squeeze in the Putanesca which looked and smelled good. The portion size was good, not too big, but I prefer quality to quantity and this ticked all the boxes. The fresh parmesan, which was added and I wasn't offered any more which is fine as the amount was perfect and some chefs can be a little sensitive when it comes to seasoning so I can understand why and as I said the amount was perfect for me, also there were back olives, sun dried tomatoes and anchovy fillets nicely mixed in. Many places I have been to use sun dried tomatoes as a main ingredient rather that a flavour to enhance a dish and this dish was as the little bear said 'just right'.

I have to say that this place has all what you want from dining out: it has passionate people, a concept, atmosphere and creates a very special dining experience and if you want to spoil someone then take them to Osteria Da Clara, but don't forget to book, because I went there on a Tuesday and it was already fully booked and they did have to turn people away.  

Restaurants

Plevel

Taverna Mythos – Greek

Pizzeria Padova

Tramtarie – Italian

Gulliver

Pizzeria La Torretta

Restaurant Raj
Moskevská 366/23

Osteria Da Clara – Toscan

Neklid

Ecorest – South-East Asian

Jina Krajina

U Carodejky

Havana Vieja Restaurant
28.Pluku 119/33

Stara Kotelna

Topo Maschio – pizzeria

Cafes & Bars


Bourbon Bar

Kafe v Novinach
True Blue

Zubaty Pes

Kozlovna

Mila Tchyne

U Sportaka

Stella Cafe

Ferdinand

Bicycle Cafe

Baron Prasil Cafe

House Mouse

Cafe Sladkovsky

Red Rabbit

Places of interest

Polevkarna – soups

Kinokavarna Pilotu – an old school cinema, cafe and Indian restaurant
Donska 19

Pampas Market – Argentinian deli

Harlequin – billiard club and restaurant

Solanka – salt cave

Bowling Bar

Sauna

Fajnsmekr – delicatessen, wine tasting

Tantra – massages

Pet Fashion

Baryk – delicatessen

Ecce Vita – natural medicine

Agentura Karneval – costume rental

Moje Party – party & wedding service