Keeping Mrs in the dark as much as possible, I dragged her suspiciously (her, not me) off to the hotel . . . we picked up a couple of Subway sandwiches for lunch on the way, just to keep her off-balance, if you see what I mean -- but it took a half-hour to do that . . . the difference between an American Subway and a Czech Subway would take its own blog entry, if not its own blog.
But we got to the hotel with our overnight bags and our subways and tried to check in.
"uh, oh." I had tho't-of and forgotten this, and Mrs was too perplexed by my mysterious plans to have considered such a thing.
"Well," I reasoned with the clerk -- adamantine because of Czech laws concerning non-citizens in hotels -- "can we check in, then I'll run home and get the passports. We just live over by Namesti Miru."
"Of course," he said, but his expression clearly shouted, "You crazy Americans! Why are you checking into a hotel 2 kilometers from your home? Especially one so expensive as this?"
But his inner misgivings remained unexpressed, and we were allowed to go to our room, dine in quaint-and-ancient elegance on subways, Bohemian Sekt, and chocolate-covered strawberries, before we zoomed home on the train to retrieve our passports, and zoomed back.That done, we did a little shopping for some Bohemian Crystal Champagne Flutes, and window-shopped expensive liquors, books, and hats, just wandering StaroPraha . . . basically, enjoying not-being-sick-anymore and relatively stress-free . . .
We got back to the hotel and relaxed before dinner with another bottle of Sekt and a fruit-plate, and Mrs took a liesurely bath, while I flipped thru the tv channels. WHOA! A scene from the night-life of sodom & gomorrah: a porn channel, in fact, 2, which let you see about 10 seconds, then flashed up a purchase screen . . . I tried flipping between them, but I couldn't follow either plot, so I gave up and just cranked up a CD on my laptop, instead . . .8^D . . .
We had Candlelight Dinner Reservations in the Triton Restaurant in the hotel . . . which may have been why I'd picked this place. They say:
"As if you were in another world.
The stalactite cave in the heart of Prague, the resident geniuses from 1912, the originality of the original Art Nouveau interior, the tradition of top-class gastronomy and the classical story in the statues all around you... . The TRITON Restaurant has an unforgettable experience prepared for everyone."
Yeah, it's a grotto 3 levels down from street-level . . . not unlike the Ambiente Pasta Fresca place, only . . . grotto-ier . . . their pictures are better than mine, but mine reflect the genial creepiness of the place better . . . 8^D . . .
I ran around taking pictures in my amateurish way until the maitre'd seemed to insist I sit down and approve-in-advance the heinous cost of the dinner. We had a cozy little table for 2 next to the wine cellar, with a little candelabra lending authenticity to our experience.
The meal started off with a glass of Sekt -- thank god! it had been almost 20 minutes since our last glass and the Mrs gets cranky soon after that interval . . . 8^D . . . then we tinged our glasses as is our wont, looked each other in the eye, and chanted our current toast: "Na zdravny! Keep your panties unbunched!"
"Dang," said Mrs, "we ought to have brought our own crystal . . . I hate to hear a 'clink' instead of a 'tink'."
They say the artist that did this restaurant design back in 1912 was a Czech Genius . . . it was amazing how all the little stalactites looked so natural, but I think Czech Genius gets tossed around an awful lot, when Certifiable Fruitcake might be more descriptive . . . I mean . . . Look At It!It all seems like some sort of Sensory Deprivation experiment, in a way, but Fun! If you see what I mean . . .
We spent the time waiting for our first course happily examining these ornaments from across the room, trying to figure out the gist of them and admiring the stalactiture and reckoning why the mixture of grotto-ness and art-deco . . .
and of course the inevitable salute of Czech Appreciation for Female Pulchritude . . . this is another topic worthy of its own blog -- but I'm not complaining, I'm just saying . . . it must wear on a girl after awhile to have to put-up-with and to compete with these idealized, or stylized, beauties of Klimt and Mouchta, and all their imitators . . .
So here we were, in the grotto, with a full cargo of Bohemian Sekt, in Candlelight, at a starched white table cloth, with as much silverware as my whole family usta use at one meal . . . ready to eat.
They called this course something like Dried Chicken with Avocado -- but I immediately re-titled it Chicken Jerky with guacamole . . . in my life I have had some jerky that I liked, but a lot more that I didn't like, and I guess I'm just not enough of a gourmet to rhapsodize about it . . . I think the brown sauce was like asian plum sauce, which made an odd combination with the guacamole . . . this was a "tasting spoon" course, as you can tell by the picture there. Hmmph.
Next was Seafood Bisque, which ought to have been alright, but then one remembers that the Czech Republic is a land-locked nation, so . . . . seafood is always a potential adventure here . . . note the perfect squareness of the tidbit in Mrs's soup . . . that's right: imitation crab seafood bisque. yeeeeeeecccccccccccchhhh.
Well, we ate it. It wasn't gross or anything, but, I mean, for crying out loud, if you're going to go to the trouble to serve a candlelight dinner in a century-old imitation grotto done up in art-deco style, wouldn't you want to have real seafood in your bisque? We would've.
I've always tho't of palate cleansing courses as an affectation, but we were anxious to scrub our palates after the bisque, so I almost missed any picture at all . . . it was champagne citron sorbet . . . kinda sugary . . . but it wiped away the traces of imitation crab from our taste-buds, so good for us!
Then came the final course: duck breast with dried fruit, namely apricots. I had to call this dish a home-run . . . the duck was absolutely perfect and I am such a sucker for dried apricots . . . go figger. I believe Mrs enjoyed hers, too, which was a definite relief. We had a bottle of red with it, don't remember what, but I always order NZ Syrah if they have it.
Oh, now I remember why I chose this restaurant . . . I wanted to have a glass of their 1912 armagnac that they laid down when the hotel & restaurant were christened . . . unfortunately for me, it was 4000Kc a glass . . . since it was Mrs' birthday and not mine, I passed.
What was weird was that because of construction or something, they served breakfast the next morning down in the grotto, too. Very Unusual.