Thursday, 22 October 2009
A Tale of Two Cities and Aromi revisited
London and Prague can claim to be two of the most international Cities in Europe, perhaps the world. London has become so international that its now unkindly called "Londinistan" and with the women wandering around in what I think are called "burkas" one can understand why. Prague seems to have maintained a more European feel unless you are walking down Wencelas Square, after 9pm, when you might feel you were in Lagos or Jo'burg, with countless African gentlemen approaching you on each street corner, offering things I prefer not to put into print here.
Having shuttled backwards and forwards between the two Cities over the last 5 years I first chose CSA ( Czech Airlines ) as my preferred carrier. They had a reputation for keeping good time and until recently pretty good food and wine in their Business Class. Indeed, there used to be a nice printed menu with a choice of two main courses and funny little quotations translated from Czech into English such as "the way we eat is the way we work - Old Czech proverb". Well now their Business Class food has deteriorated beyond belief. I think they only have only had one thing on the menu for my last few flights: its "sweet and sour something with noodles". I asked the pretty stewardess what the "something" was - I guessed chicken or pork as it had that Chinese Takeaway kind-of-taste about it. She was clearly stumped by this unexpected query, but after consultation with her colleages, offered the advice it was "chicken". Maybe she was right, but I would suggest that followers of the Prophet and their main adversaries, stay well clear, just in case she was wrong and pre-order something Kosher.
CSA seems to have got themselves into a real old muddle. Service going downhill fast and use of weasel words in the booking terms to rip-off clients wanting to change bookings, upgrade etc. The sooner they are taken over the better and the present upper levels of executive management kicked out, not just making the CEO and his Board the fall guys. I am tempted to revert to the worlds "favourite airline" BA ( which I usually translate to "Bloody Awful"), rather than British Airways.
However, while during the last few years CSA has been going down hill faster than the world slalom champion, Aromi in Vinohrady has been going from strength to strength. Mind you, it was pretty good when Riccardo opened it but now with the serious competition from its new sister restaurant, La Finestra, it has achieved a new level of excellence.
Using the excuse of a business lunch I went there today, promising myself to limit indulgence to a single main course and no alcohol. Temptation was too strong however and the mixed seafood starter had to be accompanied by a glass of two of super Tuscan wine. A small plate of wild duck ravioli followed and it should have been worthy of a Michelin Star anywhere in Europe.
The restaurant was full as usual and I would imagine that it attracts many executives from Prague 4's so called "business district" which is a bit of sahara desert for good places to eat. But its nice to be away from all the trippers in the centre of Prague and looked after so well by Riccardo and his great team, so I imagine his loyal following comes from many miles, sorry kilometres, around.....