Restaurant Review: Cathedrale

Jessica Rose finds Divine Trinity at Cathedrale Café, Bar & Restaurant

Expats.cz

Written by Expats.cz
Published on 10.09.2008 12:09 (updated on 10.09.2008)

Written by Jessica Rose
for Expats.cz

Prague´s four-month-old baby, Cathedrale, is unequivocally impressive. What, then, is startling about this dining and entertainment gem tucked in the heart of Prague 1?

Many things in this world make absolutely no sense, including: menus that reflect beer as a cheaper option than water, the majority of hip-hop lyrics, George W. Bush, and Uggs. To aggravate my list, here is another fact that makes no sense, which I am now hard-pressed to accept: Cathedrale was empty this past Saturday night.

The small upstairs café presents a rather bleak veneer compared to the wonderland of design that lies beneath. From the tiny chrome light fixtures, which strategically cast creamy breams over the decor, to the dining den´s bold artwork, this is a commendable design success. The 18th century space is tastefully superimposed by a contemporary artistic vision, thanks to designer Jakub Fabel. Thick matte shapes overlay the walls around passageways, in a technique we non-design experts might call a “reverse rendered-brick,” not only preserving the original stone craftsmanship, but complementing it as well.

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From our plate
65 CZK Spring Rolls
140 CZK Caprese salad
150 CZK Hamburger (with fries)
145 CZK Cathedrale carpaccio
165 CZK Moroccon grilled Chicken Breast
110 CZK Appletini
129 CZK Swimming Pool
119 CZK  Frozen Fruit Daquiri
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Overall, Fabel fashioned the skeleton of Cathedrale into a chic grayish canvas to emphasize the colorful art. A series of striking pieces (donated by ©LOCOMOTIV) embellish the walls and command attention. Although a few echo Calvin Klein ads circa Kate-Moss-era, most of the mixed-media photography is captivating (enough so that I drifted from my dinner table in a sort of gallery-wander), particularly the multidimensional image of the Parisien street blanketed with snails.

Dress up a basic pair of jeans with some snazzy shoes, and there we have the Cathedrale dining menu. It´s fun and casual taken up a few notches. While there are the staple bar-food selections like wraps, quesadillas, and burgers, there are also more thoughtfully composed choices like the “Cathedrale steak,” beef sirloin stuffed with shrimp and topped with red paprika pesto, or the pork tenderloin with port wine sauce.

Some of the menu flirts with Asian cuisine, and I felt inclined to at least sample the spring rolls. Although satisfying, the first bite was like the destruction of a grease dam. Not recommended with heedful conversations, or silk within a five-meter radius, this oily starter should be served with a whole roll of paper towels. Then again, it´s only 65kc and it worked wonders for my cuticles.

With the salad order, a miracle took place. The caprese salad arrived fresh and wonderful, but without its advertised grilled zucchini, which was part of its descriptive appeal on the menu. When we informed our exceptionally friendly server of the missing zucchini (expecting the typical blank-faced “sorry”), he not only brought it to the attention of the kitchen staff, but also offered to bring us something else, a side of vegetables, a new order, or remove the salad from the bill. Are we on candid camera? No: Lo and behold—we never thought it could happen—but the concept of customer service now exists in Prague. Someone actually cares about the satisfaction of paying customers!

Vegetarians, please note that there are menu choices for you, from the salads as well as some Asian-inspired noodles and rice dishes, but divert your attention momentarily, as I´m about to make you uncomfortable.

Beef is Cathedrale´s kitchen superstar. The carpaccio starter was superb, flaunting its quality by quieting the ginger and coriander flavors. And, come on: we had to try a burger. The heavy portion of beef sandwiched between all the necessary accessories, like bacon, cheese, and tomato, was so pleasing that after six proud years of burgerless life before Cathedrale, I´m cursed with medium-well temptation.

The house-made pasta stuffed with salmon is not a kitchen strength, but has potential. It was disappointingly bland, with a dollop of sour cream melting over the rather gummy pasta pieces, like an abrupt ending to a boring story.

The last page of the menu is an alluring list of shakes made with fresh fruit, all 89kc each. Daily vitamin requirements are met just by reading the list. The extended wait for my “joker” shake was well worth it, as the delightful blend packed more sweet-tartedness than a whole ice cream truck.

We dined with happy frogs and dolphins. Their whimsical moving images are cast upon the wall by high-tech projectors—not in a tacky and unsophisticated display, but a fashionable presentation of eye-candy, beautifully balanced in sensory harmony with the cool rhythms of bossa nova. The splashing water images on the bar wall enticed me from where I sat (no doubt, intentionally), and my companion and I moseyed down the glass-like steps to sample from the extensive cocktail menu, and enjoy the ultra-stylish bar atmosphere.

As if friendliness and customer service were not enough to shock me for the evening, I experienced a second shock when I took a sip of my refreshing “swimming pool” cocktail, a blue blend of vodka, liqueur, cream, and pineapple juice: it actually tasted like a real cocktail. Prices range from only 110kc to 149kc, making it affordable (and enjoyable) to sample a few of these delicious concoctions, which might cause you to be happily cross-eyed in this bar. Hello, Grey Goose; I´ve found the Holy Grail.

Executive Head of Cathedrale, Lukáš Siřínek, was delighted to chat with us. He said it best, in response to my remarks about the cocktails: “The drinks are how they should be.” Siřínek responded similarly about his staff when I complimented their graciousness and high caliber of professionalism.

Adamant about maintaining a chic and fun environment where cocktails and food are not only of commendable quality, but also affordable, Siřínek says Cathedrale is still polishing its menu, which will further accommodate vegetarian tastes and offer more house-made desserts. And here is a cherry on top: Cathedrale´s café is open for breakfast at 7:30 Monday through Saturday.

Empty? Not for long. 

Cathedrale
http://www.cathedrale.cz/
Truhlářská 23, Praha 1
+420 773 977 233