Review: Mozaika

Naomi Boxall dines at the Vinohrady restaurant

Expats.cz

Written by Expats.cz
Published on 12.09.2007 14:37 (updated on 12.09.2007)

Written by Naomi Boxall
for Expats.cz

Picture four hungry women, wandering about in the dark, blustery ‘practically-winter´ weather; wet from the shins down, hungry, tired – all four searching for Dong Do, a Vietnamese restaurant in Prague 4, that refused to be found. An hour later, having added miserable to the list of adjectives, we tucked tails and ran to the safe, cosy confines of Vinohrady.

By this time, silent, lest we mistook jest for malice, all we wanted was dry warmth and food. Mozaika, one street around the corner from Jiřiho z Poděbrad fit the bill perfectly. As we swung the door open and traipsed our wet feet down the stairs, comfy inviting leather couches swung into view, and the olfactory promises of ‘good food´ allowed us to make it to the table without incident.

Expats.cz Rating
Atmosphere
Food
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Overall
From our plate
149 CZK Goat Cheese au Gratin
134 CZK Homemade Poultry Liver Pate
286 CZK Filet of Salmon
324 CZK French Breast of Duck
99 CZK Original Philadelphia Cheesecake
39 CZK Decaf Coffee
56 CZK Latte
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Voices returned to our group, along with blood to our extremities, as we pored over the menu. We managed to choose four different starters, and four different mains, appealing to each individual and ensuring the best tasting options. A specials menu changes each week and even the wine menu has a ‘specials´ section, so if you fancy trying a wine you´ve not tried before, it´s not too painful. A lunchtime menu is also available on their website. Almost half of the dishes on the main menu had an N next to them, signifying them as ‘new´. Vegetarians are catered for in the first half of the menu, where tasty sounding soups, salads, starters and pastas are available – though the rest of the menu is aimed towards carnivores and piscivores.

The homemade poultry liver pate (with beet marmalade) was sensational. Served in a ramekin topped with beet flavoured aspic, it was sweet and caramelised to the taste, and pink and creamy inside – no lumps of meat distinguishable. This and the goat cheese au gratin were served with slightly toasted slivers of ciabatta. The goat cheese was both creamy and sharp, the cranberry red wine reduction contrastingly sweet. From the specials menu, the wild mushroom soup was warm, hearty, creamy and rich – delicately flavoured with thyme – the mushrooms blended into a nutty, earthy concoction. But the winner was, hands down, the Tuna ‘au roastbeef´. The dish is billed as seared tuna steak, crusted with black and white sesame seeds served with yakitori sauce and ura-maki rolls.  I think they could cut down on words and merely say, “Heaven in your mouth”. Elucidation is impossible, we were rendered speechless. Try it.

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The specials menu provides an opportunity for seasonal ingredients to come to the fore in the kitchen. However, by the time we´d arrived, they´d run out of venison. The waitress immediately offered beef tournadoes in the place of the bambi-steak, and when they arrived, served medium rare with foie-gras, vanilla bean potato mash, truffle oil and veal demi-glace, they were superb. The vanilla in the potato mash (no lumps, perfectly salted) enhanced the slight truffle nose and rounded the amalgamation of flavours into something unexpected yet incredibly satisfying. Again from the specials menu, the mussels with white wine, tomatoes and fresh herbs were delicious (apparently; they´re still bivalves!), and were not drowning in sauce as they frequently are. Said flavours augmented the sapidity of the mussels rather than competed. The presentation of the salmon fillet was art; a shard of fish skin baked into paper, piercing its way through the dish. Again, the mash potato – this time flavoured with crunchy scallion – was smooth and sufficiently salty that no further seasoning was called for. Alongside both sat a Provencal ratatouille of peppers, eggplant, zucchini, Spanish onion and tomatoes: mouth-wateringly sweet and tender. The baked duck on the scallion mash with a red wine and cherry sauce brought up the rear – perfectly baked to a rosy tint, sliced finely across the mash. Not terribly flashy, perhaps, but simple and very, very succulent.

Although we were hungry, these were exceptionally well prepared, cooked and presented dishes; all eight of them. There were no leftovers, the portion sizes were ideal, though if you´re not so hungry – either the pate or the goat cheese starters are ideal for sharing.

The hunt for the perfect cheesecake continues, however, as the Philadelphia cheesecake on offer was ‘good´ but not ‘proper´. If anyone knows of a big slice of New York Cheesecake served with a generous slathering of sour berry coulis, please drop me a line. The coffee was unremarkable, save for the overabundance of froth on the latte, and that the decaf espresso was almost as good as the real thing.

We were served throughout our meal with smiles (!) and the waiting staff were unobtrusive, yet ever present. Empty bottles of Mattoni were whipped away without fanfare, but immediately. The paint on the arches and walls is quite clever, with terracotta spreading up the arches that periodically break the long slender room, but not reaching the ceiling, so that the tops of the arches and the walls are predominantly cream. Cosy, but not too cellar-like. The art on the walls is created by local artists, and most is for sale. Those leather couches were certainly comfy enough for a mid-meal telephone call, and the toilets were clean and tidy.

I couldn´t find fault with Mozaika – and I tried. I practically defy anyone to have a bad evening there (your choice of companions notwithstanding!). I felt I could bring anyone to Mozaika, comfortably certain I wouldn´t have to apologise for anything. Work colleagues, friends, family and lovers – all would fit in the cosy warmth of the below-street restaurant.  I would – and I will, return.