Tuesday, 15 February 2011
Amici Miei - no friends of mine !
I am one of those people who make social arrangements at the last minute, so this Valentine's Day found all my favourite haunts in Prague booked out. Had often walked past the Amici Miei restaurant in Prague's old town and close to the much frequented Lamborghini Cafe in Vezenska Street. Looked at its website and it was generally impressed, but hard pressed to find any of my friends who had actually eaten there. That should have been warning enough, but with little time left to make a reservation for the evening I put doubts aside and risked it. Laziness is rarely rewarded and sure enough, I got what I guess was fully deserved.
Prague is a beautiful City and as well as the mass tourists who wander its old streets through all the seasons, it has a fair number of well heeled visitors from east and west. Pariska Street ( Prague's Bond Street ) can be seen bustling with wealthy Russians, rubbing shoulders with the local rich and affluent Westerners. But for all its sophistication, rip offs await the unwary. Taxi drivers who charge treble or more, currency exchanges that take more in commission than you can imagine and there are always new ways being dreamt up of parting people from large amounts of cash. The inappropriately named Amici Miei restaurant decided Valentine's Day was a good moment to boost their bottom line and hit me with a bill, that I might have expected at the new Heston Blumenthal's new place at the Mandarin Oriental in London.
To start with they dreamt up a special menu for the day, which the maitre d later admitted was priced up considerably higher than normal daily dishes. I started with a mediocre seafood salad, poorly presented and lacking in any real excitement. Followed that by a Dover Sole; it was fresh enough and only slightly over-cooked but the roast potatoes with it were soggy and clearly had sat under a warmer for some time before making their way to our table. The desert, described as warm chocolate cake turned out to be a very small and again unmemorable souffle - not too bad but worth 15 Euro ? No way.
But the serious rip off came with the drinks, with over 20 Euros a glass being charged for a very standard house champagne and a very small glass ( 0.2 dl ) of house red wine, barely drinkable 12 Euros a glass.
The end result was a bill of well over 300 Euros; at least double what it should have been for a meal and drinks of this quality.
No friends of mine and not suprisingly, less than half full. The other denizens of Prague have been caught before ?