Enjoy Golden Prague
28-48 31st St., Astoria
Cuisine: Czech & Slovak
Hours: Tue-Thu 11:30 am-2am; Fri-Sat 11:30 am-4 am; Sun noon to 2 am
Credit Cards: All Major
Zlata Praha’s legacy goes back nearly two decades. Founded in 1993, the Astoria establishment has harmoniously served up traditionally hearty Czech and Slovak dishes, successfully spreading its culinary wings in a neighborhood filled with gastronomically Greek staples.
Step inside for a break from the fast-paced rat race that is city life and shut out the clickety-clack of the N train track above; you are immediately transported more than 4,000 miles away, into the heart of Europe.
On arrival you will most undoubtedly be greeted by restaurant owner and head chef George Suchanek as my companion and I were. His warm welcoming smile and cheerful reception set the tone for an evening that not only filled our bellies but also our hearts with the desire to experience the Zlata Praha (Golden Prague) that is and will always be his home.
Seated at the center of the restaurant, both Czech and Slovak relics rested around us, leave us simmering in a surrounding rich with history. If the walls did not leave us with enough of a back story, the menu definitely did.
Suchanek’s personalized description of all the dish’s origins teased our appetites, enticing our tummies, sending signals saying “It is time to order.”
Immediately, but not is a rush, we ordered starters, which was initially difficult because we did not want to share – we wanted each dish for our very own. Nonetheless, we compromised and ordered three soups which appeased my cohort – and satisfied my heart’s content on sippin’ from more than one bowl.
For those who are iffy about onion soup, Zlata Praha’s rendition of France’s bumbling broth will certainly make you a fan of the tear-rendering vegetable. Lightly crisped mozzarella cheese delicately placed at the bowl’s rim conceals once crunchy croutons basking in the bowl’s delightful onion stock.
Both the tomato soup and beef consommé did not disappoint. The creamy consistency hid a beautifully boiled bed of rice as the consommé’s light garlic beef broth provided us with the aphrodisiacal base we needed to get into our entrées.
Continuing our feast, Suchanek organized a devilishly delicious combination of mains. One by one our waitress laid down each plate. A tender roast loin of pork was flawlessly seasoned; warm venison was served in a rich, freshly prepared sweet creamy dill sauce; and last but not least was the famous Slovak potato spatzle belnded with “Brynza” cheese, topped with a healthy portion of bacon. All were served with their individual sides of sauerkraut and cheesy dumplings.
Slicing wide juicy slivers of meat, I devoured each bite, topping my fork with a bit of sauerkraut. My companion dove into her cheese dumplings and spatzle. Without a word Suchanek looked at us and knew not to bother, only uttering two words: “Dobrou Chut (Enjoy).”
But it was too late; we were already well beyond the point of enjoyment and had ascended to a higher plateau, already thinking about what to order on our next visit. It will definitely be a bit more of everything.
— Jason Banrey