Written by Eva Christiansen
Sometimes you discover the best things about Prague at those times you´re wandering around, a little bit lost perhaps, but with eyes open to appreciate the winding streets and cobblestones. I was on such an unplanned expedition, getting lost in the area between Betlemske Namesti and Karoliny Svetle..
On a crooked little side street, which is said to be the shortest street in Prague and is practically impossible for cars, there’s a gentle gem of a vegetarian restaurant called Lehka Hlava – or “Easy Head/Clear Head”. This new owners of this space have finally finished the last touches after nine long months of preparation – both in the kitchen and in creating the unique interior. Some folks may recall the old Dobra Cajovna tearoom – the one where you ring a bell to get in and then step into secret haven of relaxed grooviness. And those who were sad to see this delight wiped out by the floods will be happy to know this new incarnation of Boršov 2 is every bit as warm, welcoming and otherworldly as the last one was.
There´s no longer a bell, you just swing open the ancient door and step into a little inner courtyard area. A glass door to the right reveals an inner sanctum looking space – a table surrounded by padded seating and its own window. A little further, on the left, is the door to the main restaurant area. The first thing you see is a counter that wraps around the wide open kitchen area where cooks busy themselves with juicing and food preparation. The dining area off to the left is intimate and immediately you sense you´re in a place with a different philosophy. What´s that smell? Or rather lack of smell – of course – it´s stinky, stale cigarettes! Lehka Hlava is a much welcomed option for non-smokers to enjoy their food, and in a place like Prague, this alone should set them apart and guarantee a solid future at least with a certain clientele. There are just 6 tables, creating a club atmosphere, and the walls are hand stenciled in warm earth tones, with the carpeting to match. Best of all are the projections on the wall, giving you something psychedelic to enjoy until menus arrive.
The other dining area – off to the right – is a celestial retreat from the maze of Prague´s old town streets. Here a domed, blue ceiling is pierced by the gentle light of hundreds of twinkling stars. These cast a soft glow onto four comfy booths with tables made of a plastic compound that resembles wood grain but is lit from within and creates a soothing warmth that is best appreciated during the colder half of the year. You immediately find yourself placing hands on the table, palms down, while you turn your head up to take in the stars. A glance around the room reveals an impressive free-form fireplace made of snow white plaster, swooping down from the wall like a giant, ghostly amoeba (it´s Schmoo!) Other details include coconut husk lamps with clusters of fiber optic filaments. It´s all a bit mad, but in a very peaceful way.
The menu consists of good, fresh, vegetarian ingredients, and great selection of fresh juice and teas. There are also options for vegans. Local-organic ingredints are used when in season. Starters are simple but satisfying: nachos with salsa; black and green olives with a baguette; a cheese plate plus sun dried tomatoes that comes with four kinds of cheese including a super parmesan; or a bowl of spinach with baked toasts and salad. These are all well under a 100 CZK and the soup, loaded with vegetables, red lentils and coconut milk and costs just 35 CZK. The four salads they serve so far are: a Caesar salad; a Greek salad; a couscous coriander salad; and one with goat cheese, walnuts and onion. Dressings are ordered separate and can be combined.
One of the exciting things about the menu is that it will rotate regularly, so there´s something new to look forward to every few months. Another exciting thing is that Lehka Hlava will introduce the concept of Sattva cuisine to Prague. The word Sattva comes from the Sanskrit word meaning “goodness” and basically denotes the quality of truth, goodness, reality and purity. Sattva is a part of a whole philosophy of living, one of three essential aspects of consciousness (the three fundamental Triguni – which are not separable). But as it relates to food, it boils down to this: well-balanced meals made of very pure ingredients, that are not spiced, not even with onions or garlic, but offer a pure “clean” meal that the body can easily handle and thus the thinking goes that it benefits your mind and mood as well. Each dish is the culinary embodiment of “order”.
The restaurant will launch a set daily lunch offering of a sattva meal: soup, main course and water – for a price set to be well under 100 CZK, at least at first. This is really a different approach to the usual lunches of greasy or spicy foods, eaten in a smoky environment and the hope is that people working in neighboring businesses will come to the restaurant for the varied, easy to digest dishes and truly take a break from their workaday, all at a very nice price.
While we wait for this interesting new menu to be rolled out there are the existing main courses to be sampled. By far the best offering is the eggplant quesadilla. The eggplant is mild and plentiful, covered in cheese, and while it´s nice and light, you will be quite satisfied by the time you finish the sizable salad, guacamole and pile of basmati and long grain wild rice that accompanies it. The spinach covered rotini pasta with smoked tofu is rich and creamy, and both of these main dishes cost only 90 CZK. There are a few baguettes to choose from on the menu; a vegetable stir fry; a vegetarian take on beef tartar; spinach with goat cheese and baked potato and some ratatouille dishes. Everything is made fresh, even done right in front of you, if you care to step up to the kitchen and be a spectator.
The best drinks in the house are the ones that come out of the noisy, hard-working juicer. The fresh apple juice is amazing – covered with froth and made from carefully chosen apples, and the carrot is simply delicious. There is a nice choice of teas, including the featured Revolution Teas which come in their own cute little boxes and have a cloth strainer that reminded everyone at our table of lingerie. If you like your tea medium strength or stronger (in the typical English style), ask the waiter to bring just a normal size cup of water, or order two tea bags for the one cup – the mugs are quite large and can result in a rather diluted brew.
The wine list is interesting, but the winner for me was the delicious non-alcoholic beer, which is far tastier than most I´ve tried. You won´t find regular beers by the pint here; the alcohol on the menu is intended more as enhancement in the form of carefully chosen wines or an herbal elixir or glass of port to aid in digestion of the meal after. Once you´ve finished your meal and had a shot of ginseng elixir, take a moment to explore the courtyard with the quaint separate toilets, wish-fulfilling tree and wind chimes. Your little escape is completed and you´re nourished to take on another session of wandering in Prague. Turn to your right and there is Karoliny Svetle and beyond that, the River. You weren´t really lost at all – just in another world.
Find out more about “Clear Head” in the Expats.cz Business Directory : https://www.expats.cz/go/?wp0CSljEIq