Last year the 3 of us (2 friends and myself “touring” the Restaurant festival) were very satisfied at U Malířů 1543. The food was excellent and the service personal and attentive, taking our wishes about speed etc. into consideration and leaving us with an impression...that they were happy to have us. So our expectations were high when returning this year.
We had a warm welcome and were shown to a table described by the waiter as their best table – and we agreed. A perfect spot in a corner with good views to the rest of the restaurant. The table was set for 3 people, so they didn’t have to remove or add plates, glasses and cutlery (which is often the case) – and to make us feel even more welcome, the menu was placed on the table in English. They had prepared the tables for each individual group, and we loved that.
During the evening the personal approach disappeared, unfortunately. Every table was served each course at the same time, no matter how fast or slow they ate, and in one instance this meant that food was being put on our table and presented while one of us was away. I can see how the assembly line approach makes it easier for the kitchen when every guest has the same menu. But it doesn’t create a good atmosphere, especially because they weren’t really in sync when pouring wine, so sometimes people would be sitting with their food in front of them waiting for somebody to pour the wine to accompany it. And it kind of places convenience in the kitchen as the centre of attention instead of pleasing the guests.
The whole assembly line feeling became almost embarrassing during the serving of our dessert, Crêpes Suzette, which was finished and flambéed table side. This would have been a nice touch, if it would be at different times, whenever each group was ready. Now it became like a joke watching the poor waiter walking from table to table, giving the same speech, serving the pancakes and then rushing to the next table.
But the food – let’s move on to the most important part!
We were served two different bread rolls each, a light one and a dark one with potatoes. We were also given butter with a pinch of salt. We all liked it, I preferred the white bread, my friends liked the dark one better, but all in all the bread and butter was good.
We were given a complimentary amuse bouche: goat’s cheese with pickled beet root and chocolate powder. The cheese was creamy, and I didn’t think it was too “goaty”, but one of my friends did. The combination was a bit strange, but even though I wouldn’t ask for a larger portion, I really liked how it sort of opened my senses to what would follow. That’s also what an amuse bouche is about in my opinion.
The starter was beef tartar with quinoa, homemade mayonnaise and grated duck foie gras. The beef had a mild and delicate taste, the foie gras had been frozen before being freshly grated at the table. It was fatty and good, and when we put in our mouths it melted and released a fine flavour. The mayonnaise was good, well balanced with some sweet and tart notes. But still, larger elements of sweet and sour was what we all missed to compliment the fattiness of the other components. As we also found the beef to be under seasoned, the dish as a whole didn’t reach the high notes, we were hoping for. It was a bit flat and one dimensional, but still acceptable.
We could choose between 2 wines: Viognier IGP Pays d'Oc 2018, Domaine Gayda, Languedoc, France
Rosé d'Anjou Couronne et Lions 2018, Domaine Roc De Chateauvieux, Loire, France.
Our waiter described the white wine as dry and the rosé as semi sweet. That made two of us choose the white, which was OK, but lacked a bit of muscle to carry the tartar. The rosé was a much better choice.
The main dish was grilled duck breast sous-vide, a croquette of duck confit, sweet potato puree with a demi glace, and chard. The croquette with duck meat reminded me of Dutch bitterballen, which I love – and this rendition was crunchy, delicious and nice, albeit a bit on the dry side. My piece of duck breast was large and well seasoned, but it was almost cold and really dry. The skin was more tough than crispy. I often cook duck breast sous-vide at home, and keeping the meat moist while crisping the skin is not rocket science. The sweet potato purée was soft and delicate, and the few drops of sauce went well with it. I would have liked a tablespoon more of the sauce. The chard was perfect – in fact it was the part of the dish we all liked the best. The dish as a whole didn’t really come together. We missed something to make the elements elevate each other. Instead we felt we ate different parts which didn’t really communicate.
The wine was a Blauburgunder Pinot Nero DOC 2016 FESTIVAL, Merano, Alto Adige, Italy. It was full bodied and had nice tannins. It went well with duck.
The dessert was Crêpes Suzette pancakes flambéed in Grand Marnier. Like I mentioned, they were finished table side, heating them up in a sauce of sugar, lemon and orange before being set on fire.
We were disappointed. The sauce was much too sweet, I could almost hear my teeth screaming, and the little folded pancake looked quite sad on the plate. It could have been enhanced in so many ways. My suggestion would have been topping it with a small handful of coarsely chopped roasted hazel nuts. The dessert was boring; I can’t find a better word.
It was served with a complimentary glass of sweet Chateau Dauphine Rondillon 2013, Loupiac, Bordeaux, France. That was the best part
Most restaurants will ask you if you’d like an aperitif before your meal and some coffee after the meal. Very often you’ll have to ask for the price or just take a chance – and once I had a glass of Prosecco at Cotto Crudo for the far too high price of Czk. 250,-.
U Malířů 1543 deserves praise for doing quite the opposite. They’ve made a small menu of aperitifs, wine and coffee at reduced prices – so you can choose a glass of prosecco for just Czk. 60,- or a glass of champagne for only Czk. 160,-. We chose the latter and liked it. If you’d like an extra glass of wine with your food, it is a reasonable Czk. 60,- for 0,1 l.
We went with high expectations. Although nothing was horrible or even close, our expectations weren’t met, unfortunately.More