The Sky is Not the Limit
By Richard York
Let’s get it out of the way first. Yes, the view from the terrace at Coda Restaurant is amazing. Personally, it is my favourite restaurant view in a city full of restaurants with spectacular views. The closeness to some of the city’s great monuments such as Prague Castle and St Nicholas can give the impression that they have been invited to join the meal. Especially on a summer evening, as the fading sunset gradually gives way to the rising city lights, the scene is reminiscent of an opening night theatre production. Magical!
But the view too often distracts from what is on the plate at Coda. And this deserves a second look. There is an unfortunate cliché about hotel restaurants which overlooks the fact that hotels host some of the greatest restaurants in the world. Indeed, the first three restaurants in Prague to be awarded Michelin stars all fell within this category. While hotel dining can have its limitations, where a restaurant is led by a chef with true commitment and passion, the sky is the limit or, in this case, even the panoramic sky can be surpassed.
Enter Head Chef David Šašek. At the helm of Coda for the past fifteen years, David has local and international experience, but more importantly a lifelong passion and interest in cooking techniques, which is unexcelled even by some of the more famous local chefs. This leads to a dining experience which adeptly walks the line between international and Czech influences to achieve a rare balance. David’s commitment to using quality local ingredients means that even dishes on the international menu, such as the trout ravioli or the deer and quail platter, evangelize Czech influences. And his Czech menu is punctuated by the use of international techniques to enhance local cuisine, for example his delicious rabbit sous vide.
It is often true that the most simple innovations are the best, and this is certainly the case with David’s signature sorbet. He elevates the humble palate cleanser to a unique experience through his flower-based sorbet creations which are always surprising, and a much better idea than the ubiquitous and often superfluous floral culinary enhancements seen elsewhere.
This is no standard hotel fare, but a thoughtful and carefully executed expression balancing Czech flavours with international techniques. The approach is neither experimental nor fully traditional. Naturally, there are cheaper places around town to discover local cuisine, but not many with this level of quality. So next time you dine at Coda, enjoy the view by all means, but take the time to look more closely at the cuisine. Together they remain for me, one of Prague’s great dining experiences.