Ice-Cold Pork Belly with Rubbery Skin

Zizkov restaurant U Krouzku under delivers

By Kari Sonde

Opened in 1933, U Krouzku used to be open until 5 AM to serve chimney sweeps, trash collectors, bakers and other early morning professions. Credit VŠE - Degustátoři.

Opened in 1933, U Krouzku used to open at 5 AM to serve chimney sweeps, trash collectors, bakers and other early risers. Credit VŠE – Degustátoři.

The wood panel interior, indistinguishable from the décor at so many Prague restaurants, was nonetheless comforting. The tavern feel and the brick walls are nice, although fake plants are never a good idea. However, I didn’t get to see the underwhelming interior with its weird fluorescent lit bar the first time I went to U Krouzku in Zizkov because it was closed, even though its website claimed the opposite.

We were presented menus about five minutes after we seated ourselves in the almost empty restaurant at around 7:30 on a Wednesday night. The menus were printed in Czech, Russian, and English and had a pretty wide spread of meat-centric dishes, with a Czech classics section — which was what I was most excited about.

U Krouzku, located on Milicova in Prague 3 serves mainly Czech fare such as roast pork ribs marinated in BBQ sauce, served with pickled homemade vegetables for 229 koruna (9 USD), roasted pork knuckle with apple horseradish and homemade pickles for 279 koruna (11 USD) and steak with cream sauce, dumplings and cranberries. Having had excellent Czech food in my experience in Prague, and having had developed a strong liking for it, I wanted to like the place. I really, really did.

U Krouzku had a pretty standard selection of Czech beers, but that’s absolutely wonderful, as there really isn’t a way to go wrong with Czech beer. I went with an unfiltered Gambrinus for something a little less hoppy than the classic Pilsner.

About ten minutes after bringing our drinks, the waiter came back to take our food order. He didn’t speak much English, but so what. He didn’t write it down, nodded quickly, and ran off into the crowd of approximately five other guests. About five minutes later, a waitress came by and took our food order as well — she also did not write it down. While friendly, she spoke even less English than the waiter, so we were unsure as to why he’d sent her over.

Our appetizers took almost 30 minutes to reach our table; by then we were starving. Unfortunately, the waitress only brought out one correct appetizer; I had to send the sad little bowl of pale floating vegetables back because I definitely didn’t order it, and I definitely didn’t want to eat what appeared to be plain, boiled vegetables. The goat cheese with honey, costing 139 koruna (5.50 USD) was good; the caramelized honey crust on top complemented the slightly tart cheese. However, the rocket salad underneath it was slightly wilted. The baguette looked like the cheap kind from the grocery store, and bread that shade of paper pale couldn’t be called toasted. It seemed a bit too expensive for what we got, but we ate it. We were hungry after waiting so long.

My confit pork belly finally came just as we were finishing the cheese, and it made me wish we got two of the latter. The pork was ice cold and the skin quite rubbery. The best thing about the dish was the mustard — and I am sure that came from a jar. Ninety-five koruna (4 USD) seems like a lot for a dish whose highlight is the standard mustard.

It was good that we ordered our main dishes when the first appetizer rolled around, because we waited another 20 minutes after the confit pork for them to arrive.

Ribs were piled on my enormous plate accompanied with ice-cold vegetables that were supposed to be pickled, but did not taste pickled. They looked suspiciously like the vegetables in the soup we sent back. The ribs were fine: they were cooked well enough, but desperately needed more taste to them. For 229 koruna (9 USD), I could have gotten two or three plates of excellent goulash from somewhere else; the ribs just weren’t a good value.

The burger came out rather colorless; it seemed pale and I’m not sure why. Pale bun, pale lettuce, pale tomato, and a pale little slices of pickle. However, the meat in it was juicy and cooked just right for a burger. Other than that, it was average with its grocery store bun, iceberg lettuce, and pickles that somehow had no taste to them. The fries were good though. Not good enough for 189 koruna (7.50 USD), but still good.

We thought we could save a mediocre dinner with a decent dessert; how do grilled apples with homemade cinnamon whipped cream, caramel and walnuts sound? Much better than they tasted.

One bite and we both put down our forks. The apples were mush, the homemade whipped cream was uncomfortably warm with airiness, the caramel had no taste or texture at all and the raw walnuts did nothing for the dish at all. And where was the cinnamon? We spent 79 koruna (3 USD), on trash. I was looking for dessert to save the meal, but instead, it killed it.

Kari Sonde is in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study class of 2017. Her hometown is McLean, Virginia.

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Categories: Spring 2015 Issue Number 2

Author:The Prague Wandering

The Prague Wandering is an NYU based study abroad webzine- the only one of its kind. It focuses on issues in contemporary Czech culture and the city of Prague, exploring beyond the study abroad bubble.

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