Written by Jessica Rose
The Los v Oslu evening crowd can be more safely ascribed to the restaurant´s fantastic starters and cheap drinks than to the Scandinavian authenticity or quality of its main courses. Save the best for last? Not here.
Contrary to popular belief, Prague does offer a fair share of international cuisine, although many of these menus simply do not tighten their borders and seem to be Czech food in playful costume. Even when a high caliber of authenticity is achieved, it is almost certain to find goulash on the Thai menu. Los v Oslu bears a Scandinavian name and emblem, as part of the veil thrown over the Czech kitchen. Advantageous to the veneer, the two types of cuisine overlap in the area of hearty and heavy delights, so by draping the menu in salmon and lacing it with dill, this Prague 3 restaurant claims to accommodate Scandinavian taste-buds.
The evening began on a high note (and not just because I delighted in receiving a teeny-tiny fork with my appetizer). Both starters still linger at the forefront of my gastronomical thought bubble.
Salmon and I have had a long relationship, which, up until a few nights ago, had become boring and lost its spark. I´m not sure if it´s the Los v Oslu kitchen that I should thank or the Finnish, but I fell in love with salmon all over again with the graavilohi starter. A classic Finnish specialty, this is a dish of raw salmon sliced into thumb-sized pieces, and served with a dill-honey sauce. From the quality of the salmon, which—please pardon the cliché, it´s necessary—almost melted in my mouth, to its sweet dill sauce co-star, this was a perfect harmony of silky flavors. The most amazing part, perhaps, my love only 95CZK.
Think deep-fried plums and deep-fried apricots wrapped in bacon. With an adventurous palette, this innovative combination is as tasty as it sounds. But one order is more than enough. Really. As wonderful as this starter is, it´s heavy, chewy, and the flavor is aggressive. Like a friend´s candid romantic details, it´s best enjoyed in small doses.
Never mind that the logo includes the image of a moose (or an elk?), and Los v Oslu means “moose in Oslu”. I´m happy there wasn´t a trace of taxidermy in my dining room, and I´d prefer the well-tailored seafood-dining ambience that surrounded me.
All that is missing is the ocean and white-bearded old men in yellow rain hats. Below the ceiling of fishing nets, the bones of this dramatically nautical atmosphere are burly, dark wood furnishings, with large helms carved along the base of the bar. Bottles and barrels, and thick, knotted ropes adorn the overhead planks. Paintings of ships in stormy waters hang over the bold red and blue stripes on the walls. Even the “sounds of the sea” music (though corny under any other circumstance) topped off the Nordic hypnotism.
Wait—did I feel an ocean breeze? No, it was my once-attentive server rushing by us four or five times as the restaurant filled up, and forgetting my sad empty glass in the middle of all the heavy navy blue dinnerware.
The ambience, the starters we sampled, and the initial level of service we received, implied magnificence in the main course. It was the trumpets before the thoroughbreds´ race out of the gates. Unfortunately, I either waited in vain or did not choose winners.
I delved into the vegetarian list, and chose the spinach nest, which has a presentation that definitely lives up to its name. Oyster mushrooms, sweet and mild, are a subtle flavoring agent, but seemed like a wasted ingredient. They were eaten up by the spinach before I even ate them, as were the tomatoes. The portion size and strength of spinach was so strong that a basket of hot tamales could have safely hidden in there undetected. After some poking around, I finally found the goat cheese, also destroyed by the spinach wrath. Don´t get me wrong—spinach is great, but no one is striving for the diet of Popeye.
Wanting to stick to typical Scandinavian tastes, we sampled our main courses from the seafood and fish list. The grilled tiger prawns were disappointing, mainly because they were not tiger prawns. Maybe they were little baby kitten prawns. Or they were not prawns at all; just mediocre shrimp, served on a weak bed of garden greens that looked more like garnishments than the promised salad. I should have been suspicious, though, with a main course of tiger prawns costing only 265CZK in this land-locked nation.
The Norwegian fish bowl was another aesthetic mess, though I still had hope in what lay beneath the sloppy layer of eidam cheese. When the overwhelming steam that carried the dish´s potent salmon odor cleared, the bowl revealed a gastronomical mess as well. My best articulation: it was mush. Although we expected grilled pieces of salmon and cod, the fish was sparse in the sticky mix of tomato rice and cheese. Another massive portion, this dish requires a trough, not a bowl. But is it worthy of a doggy bag and reheating as a late-night snack? Sure, after you spend 198CZK.
The desserts were whipped cream with a side of chocolate cake, and whipped cream with a scoop of deep fried ice cream. I more enjoyed my espresso. Then again, I always do.
What happened to cause the descent from the beginning to the end of the evening, drastic as the recent temperature change or rise and fall of Amy Winehouse? And was there something in the middle? There was. The Norwegian country soup, a mix of salmon and vegetables in a sweet-flavored tomato broth, was a so-so order that arrived after the amazing starters. That´s why I ignored it.
Despite the inconsistent quality I experienced with the food at Los v Oslu, the new, colder air that has swept into Prague beckons me back to the warm ambience of this restaurant, where I´ll allow a few 67CZK Irish coffees to thaw my frozen hands, and hope to regain that first graavilohi high. Perhaps I should try the goulash. With a potato pancake.
Los v Oslu
Perunova 17, Prague 3
+420 222 513 295