Goulash sounds like a food your parents would threaten you with when you were bad. And cabbage doesn't sound much better. But, combined with the more acceptable potatoes, this trio makes for the perfect traditional dinner in Prague.
Restaurace Mlejnice has become so popular for their Czech cuisine that they had to open another location a 5 minute walk away. Lucky for us since we didn't make reservations. We snagged an open table at the second, and slightly less busy, locale. Every meal in Prague starts with a .5 liter of local pilsner. You don't even question this. Next up, the Mrs ordered the cabbage pancakes. Unlike many in town that are, well, as flat as a pancake, these were more globular like a fritter. Imagine a slightly sweet and pungent sauerkraut battered up and fried. This was it and it was delicious!
Mr Smith had the cabbage soup. This version was most reminiscent of French onion soup - dark with slightly sweet cabbage mellowed by a healthy portion of mild sour cream. There were sausage bits in there too. It should be noted that Czech fare is not great for the vegetarian and gluten-free crowd, though some restaurants seemed willing to accommodate.
Our main course came in the form of beef goulash in a bread bowl. It may seem odd to have soup followed by stew, but when it's cold outside you really can't have enough of either. As one would expect, the stew is much hardier than the soup. Big hunks of beef swim in a dark, thick broth. They bread, like pretty much all bread in Prague, is a mild rye. Mrs Smith loved the broth-soaked inside of the bread with her stew; Mr Smith found that a bit soggy but loved the crunch outside of the bowl. If eating goulash means being bad, then count us in.
No Czech meal is complete without some potatoes. They will pretty much serve a potato any way you can think of and then surprise you with new ways. Tonight's version were roasted potatoes in a sauce of tomatoes and olives with some cheese melted on top. We could have gone with potato salad, mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, potato dumplings, or potatoes topped with just about anything in the kitchen. These were a fine accompaniment to our traditional meat-and-potatoes Czech dinner.