La Terrassa

Brewsta taps into tapas on the Vltava

Brewsta Jason Pirodsky

Written by BrewstaJason Pirodsky Published on 04.07.2012 11:08:20 (updated on 04.07.2012) Reading time: 7 minutes


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“We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” Mother Theresa

Ever since my trip to Barcelona last year, I’ve been dreaming about the tapas.

I had joyful, unforgettable meals at places like Tapas24, Bar Mut, and La Cova Fumada. I’ve tried tapas in Prague over the years, but I never found anything that kept me coming back for more.

When I got the tip that a real Spanish tapas place had opened, I got there as quick as I could. La Terrassa has a great location on the Vltava, straddling the pointy end of Dětský ostrov (Children’s Island).

La Terrassa

The restaurant is opposite the Dancing House, also known as Fred and Ginger.

I took the tram 10 to Zborovská and walked about 10 minutes to get there. One could also take a tram to Arbesovo náměstí, which is about the same distance away.

There are several options on where to sit. One is an attractive indoor space with blond wood floors, rough stone walls, and hanging hams that convey both a modern and rustic feeling.

La Terrassa

Taking up one side of this room is the open kitchen. There you can watch chef de cuisine David Diaz at work.

La Terrassa

He’s got a serious CV, having worked at Michelin-starred La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise in Prague and the Ferrán Adrià connected Telaia Mar in Barcelona.

We ate here on the first visit and enjoyed watching the cooking show.

First off, we received bread (35 CZK).

La Terrassa

It has a fresh and fluffy interior surrounded by a floury, crunchy crust. Great stuff.

One of our favorite bites in Barcelona was also one of the most simple: the pan con tomate — bread with tomato. We ordered  that, hoping to be carried back to Catalonia (45 CZK).

La Terrassa

There is more than one way to make this, but this was not my favorite way. This one was done with a tomato puree, olive oil, and garlic on small slices of toast. Unfortunately, bread was soaked through and soggy. We also thought it was too garlicky.

I much prefer the version we had many times in Barcelona. It was made on aspecial bread that looks like this. Pieces of tomato and garlic are lightly rubbed into the rough texture of one side and it was drizzled with olive oil. I had pan con tomate recently at Jaleo in Washington DC, and they actually imported this bread from Barcelona. I wish they could do that here.

To drink, we ordered glasses N.V. Paul Cheneau Cava Rosé (95 CZK).

La Terrassa

We liked its strawberry notes so much, we kept the whole freshly opened bottle (535 CZK). We also had a large bottle of Mattoni mineral water (65 CZK).

We got a plate of mussels (125 CZK).

La Terrassa

They were fresh and meaty and coated with a lightly sweet, red peppery sauce that we both liked.

We tried the Galician octopus (235 CZK). With this preparation, the octopus is boiled and then seasoned with paprika, salt, and olive oil.

La Terrassa

The flesh was tender, but the flavor not so remarkable. What was remarkable was the big price for this small plate. We didn’t think it was worth the splurge.

On the other hand, we both greatly enjoyed the Jamon Iberico de bellota (145 CZK).

La Terrassa

It was freshly carved, tender, and not too salty.

My Italian companion eats grilled vegetables any chance she gets. We ordered two plates (65 CZK each).

La Terrassa

Though small, the veggies were done just right, with a lovely char on them. There was zucchini, asparagus, mushrooms, aubergine, and tomato.

We decided to sample the larger meat and fish dishes. I had the Galician beef (450 CZK).

La Terrassa

The thick, tender piece of quality meat was served rare. It was simply prepared with salt and olive oil. It didn’t pick up much flavor from the grill.

My date got the sea bass with fennel sauce (390 CZK).
This was a great piece of fish, with a crispy skin on top and moist, delicate flesh below. The sauce worked well, even though the fennel flavor did not come through clearly.

I noticed the sea bass was not on the internet menu as I was writing this, and some of the prices had changed. They did tell me on one visit that the restaurant is new and the menu is still evolving.

For dessert, I was in the mood for chocolate, but there was no chocolate on the menu. I mentioned this to the server and was told they did have chocolate cake (75 CZK).

La Terrassa

This one was fudgy, spongy, and rich, with fresh but somewhat sour strawberries between the layers and on the side. I liked it.

Our server was really nice and always smiling, though sometimes confused by the many different plates coming and going. We did see our veggies under the heat lamp for much too long. Also, it’s normal to see chefs sample their work, but we were a little surprised to see several chefs eating what looked like full meals as they cooked.

The tab for this outing, which included a bottle of cava, came to 2185 CZK before tip. While there were some misfires, we liked enough of what we tried, plus the vibrant atmosphere, to look forward to a second visit.

We returned a few days later and sat in the second dining area, which looks and feels like the inside of a wooden ship.

La Terrassa

The blue and cream cloth between the beams in the ceiling, the wooden floors, the many windows, and the white tables give it a light, airy atmosphere.

The two dining rooms are non-smoking, but smoking is allowed on the outside terrace that covers the end of the island.

La Terrassa

From here, you can get unobstructed views of the river and the National Theater.

La Terrassa

We ordered another bottle of the cava we had on the first visit.

La Terrassa

The waiter gave us a dish of seriously tiny olives.

La Terrassa

Then, I had the Gazpacho Andaluz, which is served in a wine glass (90 CZK). I drank up and was cheered up.

La Terrassa

The light, tangy soup had just the right balance of salt and vinegar, with a little meatiness from tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.

Then came another tapas classic, the tortilla de patatas (65 CZK). This was perfectly executed.

La Terrassa

The light mix of eggs, potatoes, and onions was served steaming hot and it tasted freshly made.

We had to taste the baked tiger prawns with garlic and chili (145 CZK). Delicately delicious.

La Terrassa

They varied in size from medium to small. After peeling off they shells, they quickly disappeared. I ended up sucking on the heads and mopping up every drop of the sauce with their nice bread.

For a main course, I had the lamb chops (295 CZK).

La Terrassa

I told the waiter I wanted them medium rare, and he duly wrote it down, though I’m not sure why. These were the thinnest lamb chops I’ve ever had. They were cooked through and I couldn’t imagine them otherwise.

That said, I enjoyed them. There wasn’t a large amount of meat, but it was very lamby and tasty. As I consumed it, fat and all, I thought of it as something akin to lamb bacon. The aubergine puree, made with apples and wine grapes, was a complement deserving of the highest compliments. It raised the plate to a higher level.

To go with it, I had the baked potatoes (45 CZK).

La Terrassa

We both loved these golden, starchy little spuds.

My date had the dorade or sea bream (360 CZK).

La Terrassa

The fish was fresh, but incredibly bony. We couldn’t pick them out easily and half the bites yielded an unpleasant mouthful. Perhaps it was bad luck, but it turned us both off this dish.

She had the Mediterranean salad on the side (90 CZK).

La Terrassa

Although it had a nice mix of leaves, it was very simple, underdressed, and overpriced.

For dessert, I went for the Crema Catalana Cremada (85 CZK).

La Terrassa

It looks similar, but it’s quite different from crème brûlée. This version had a hint of cinnamon. The cream was not smooth, but had a texture I’d say was similar to apple sauce. The top layer was burnt, but not hard.

The bill for this meal was 1950 CZK before tip.

Did we like everything we tried? No.

Would I go back to La Terrassa. Yes. There a number of dishes I’d have again. And again.

The style, look, and location also left us with a good feeling. The service, though not flawless, was friendly and accommodating.

I didn’t consider all things great, but enough of the small plates were done with great love.

La Terrassa
Janáčkovo nábřeží – Dětský ostrov
Prague 5 – Smíchov
Tel: (+420) 725 161 616

La Terrassa

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