Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Palatino 3 - hits and misses at half price

Usually I am not the kind of person who finds ads on facebook interesting at all. But on the other hand, I always like to save money, so recently I clicked on an ad for a website called "Slevomat" - sleva being one of my favourite words in Czech. The idea of the website is that they have daily offers where you can buy a voucher for for instance a meal, some massage, fligts with hot air balloons and several other things. Usually the discount is 50% or more. Slevomat also has an English version. Another website using the same concept, probably run by the same people, is BonyBony, but only in Czech. My Czech is poor, but having Google toolbar installed, I just use Google translate, which is a great help.
Being curious I decided to try an offer by BonyBony: a 4 course tasting menu in Restaurant Palatino 3 in Pankrac for only Czk. 599,- for 2 persons, including a bottle of wine. Normal price would be Czk. 1.300,-. Not a lot to lose, was my logic.
So a couple of days ago I invited BF, we booked a table and went by the metro to Prazskeho Povstani, right next to the restaurant. The building is modern and not too charming, but the designers have done their best to give the interior a cosy and almost rural feeling. Fake, you could say - but I still believe they did a good job, and we can't bring Italy to Prague, can we?

I like the way they have used lots of fresh green plants in the decoration. No plastic flowers in Palatino 3

When we arrived, the restaurant wasn't very full, and we got a table in the middle of room. The restaurant doesn't have a non-smoking section, but I didn't find it to be smoky at all. But being a smoker myself, maybe I am not the best judge. The tables are quite small, but we were able to manage. 


I handed over my voucher, and everything was ok - we would get the tasting menu. I was given the wine list and could choose which wine I wanted. There were no restrictions, price range or other things to consider. Well, there also weren't any expensive wines. They were between Czk. 250,- and 440,- as far as I remember, the most expensive being a Pinot Grigio. However, BF was more into drinking beer, so he ordered a Stella Artois (Czk. 37,-), not being a big Staropramen fan, and thus leaving me with the option of only picking a wine for my own taste. I chose a bottle of 2008 Primitivo from Di Marco. I usually like the deep colour and taste of an Italian Primitivo, and this bottle was pleasant. As far as I remember it was priced at Czk. 340,- which is very reasonable for this wine.

We didn't have to choose our food - that was already taken care of as the voucher was for a set menu. After approximately 10 minutes the starters arrived: Carpaccio di manzo - thin slices of beef marinated in basil, garlic and olive oil, fresh parmesan, arugula, and toasted bread with some gratinated cheese on top.

We both liked the carpaccio a lot. The texture was nice, and the balance between olive oil, basil and garlic was spot on. It got several "very good" comments from BF. I liked the toast as well. I am not sure which kind of cheese it had been gratinated with, but it wasn't overpowered by the cheese and went very well with the tender slices of beef. An excellent start!

We had a short break before the next course, which would be 2 different kinds of pasta. The waiter brought a hot plate for both of us and my favourite: a bowl of grated parmesan (and enough parmesan). I am a big fan of this, and in our local pizzerias (in the I. P. Pavlova - Namesti Miru area) we usually only get it at Grosseto on Namesti Miru. But then again, Grosseto is by far the best Italian restaurant in our area, if we only look at the affordable ones.

Shortly after one of the cooks came to our table and served the first pasta dish from a sizzling hot pan: spaghetti with pork, fresh baby spinach, cherry tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil.

I liked the detail with the hot plate. I also liked that the cook came to our table, and we could choose exactly how much food we wanted. But more importantly, I liked the perfectly cooked spaghetti. Spot on al dente, not too oily and with fresh ingredients. The pork was spicy and also perfectly cooked, tender and juicy. BF added a bit of oil to his dish, and again several "very good" comments from his smiling face. 2 out of 2 for Palatino so far.

After a while we got another fresh hot plate, and once again the cook came to our table. This time with penne tagliata with fine slices of beef, arugula and cherry tomatoes.

The penne - I forgot to take a picture before covering the dish with loads of fresh parmesan
Unfortunately the penne had been cooked a couple of minutes too long. Not eaxctly al dente. And when the restaurant wanted to give us a degustation menu, I think they should have chosen two pasta dishes which were a lot more different. Only the arugula and the meat was different, and I think they could have chosen a seafood dish or something more "saucy" to give us more variation. At this point BF was already full, so I can't give you any more of his comments. But after the perfectly cooked spaghetti, this penne dish was a bit disappointing.

Next thing on the menu was steak from Argentinian beef (200g) - served with baked stuffed peppers and caramelized onions. The waiter - who was friendly, correct and attentive without disturbing us all the time - had forgotten to ask me how I would like my steak. Had he asked, I would have said rare to medium rare.

It was medium - which was OK with me, and it was actually nicely cooked. The plate was decorated with a rather sweet but quite nice reduction of balsamico. The caramelized onions were crunchy, tasty and - well, perfect. The stuffed pepper was a bit confusing. Basically it was a bit like gratinated, creamy potatoes with a bit of cheese, but there were also some chunks in it of some sort of meat - maybe ham, I wasn't sure. It didn't go very well with the sweet red bell pepper, and I really don't like the idea of including any kind of meat in a side dish which is supposed to be served with a steak. It had the potential of being good, but wasn't. But also not a disaster, just OK.
The steak was nicely cooked and looked delicious. But it was boring. Even though the seasoning was ok, the meat didn't taste a lot of - meat. I can't put my finger on it, but it just lacked some taste. I tried with a bit of extra salt, but it didn't help. I was already almost full, so I didn't finish the steak. It takes more than this kind of steak before I am willing to overeat. It wasn't a dish I would complain about or send back to the kitchen, but it was still a bit disappointing.

Finally we were ready for desert: cheese cake with fresh strawberry sauce. 

Size wise there was absolutely nothing to complain about. It was a large serving, and it looked nice on the plate. But just like the steak, it lacked taste. The base was dry and too thick, and the cheese part just didn't give me a lot of flavours. The strawberry sauce was nice, but not nice enough to make me want to finish the dish. I let half of it go back to the kitchen, but without any comments, because it wasn't horrible - just uninteresting.

I had a cappuchino after the desert (Czk. 40,-). I also had a large bottle of Mattoni (Czk. 64,-) with my wine. BF had 3 beers. So our bill was Czk. 215,- (before tips) on top of the Czk. 599,- I had paid for the voucher. For that amount we had 4 (actually 5) courses and a bottle of wine + the water, beer and coffee.  Very, very cheap, I'd say.

Would I be back?
If the prices were always like this, i would for sure!
If I lived in the area, I would definitely come back every once in a while for the carpaccio and for their perfectly cooked pasta (well, at least the spaghetti was perfect).

I liked half of the food a lot, the other half not so much. I liked the service. The atmosphere was nice. And they really wanted to give us value for money for our cheap voucher. But next time I have a craving for pasta, I'll probably go to Grosseto instead of taking a metro to the not so charming Pankrac. So I don't recommend Palatino that warmly, but I definitely also don't say you shouldn't go there. Because it IS a nice and cheap Italian restaurant, just not in our neighbourhood. 

But what I will recommend is trying these new discount services, BonyBony and Slevomat. Not just for food, but also for several other interesting offers. No matter if you live in Prague or visit the beautiful city as a tourist, you can keep an eye on the websites and buy some vouchers - they are usually valid for several months.

I already bought vouchers for 2 more meals - one in the new branch of Pizza Coloseum on Legerova, and one for a couple of monster sized steaks in Crazy Cow Steak house. Maybe you'll hear more about that :-)

Palatino 3 Ristorante
Lomnického 1705
Praha 4 - Pankrác
+420 241 401 985

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the BonyBony recommendation - Slevomat and also I knew of already, but can't have too many bargains! :-))