When travel to Prague finally began to resume, a friend from Switzerland who used to live in Prague visited, and we met for lunch at one of our favorite places, an old standby that we both love. She had already been in Prague for a few days when we met, so she’d been trying some of the many new restaurants that had appeared since she’d moved away. When we sat down for lunch at the old standby, we started talking about restaurants, and out of the blue she asked, “Have you been to Červený Jelen?” “No,” I said, “but it’s on my list.” She then added: “It’s great.” This only confirmed my hunch that it must be a pretty good place and moved it to the top of my list.
An Impressively Large Space
I wasn’t surprised to learn when I did some research later that this space was originally designed as a bank in a Cubist-Modernist style by famous Czech architect Josef Gočár during former Czechoslovakia’s so-called “First Republic,” its heyday between the World Wars. The building’s transformation into a modern dining space only adds to the uniqueness of the interior and atmosphere.
Variety in All Things: Food, Wine and Price
One of the first things I noted was how varied the menu is (even though it’s heavy on meat, which is fine by me!). As I’d never been there, nor had I seen the menu (I didn’t “peek” online beforehand), this meant it took me some time to get a sense of the cuisine and what I wanted to have.
The menu has a very wide price range, too, which was also quite new to me in Prague and a nice touch: It makes Červený Jelen a place for everybody with something for everybody. So you can spend the equivalent of $130 (CZK 2900) on Wagyu tenderloin or a budget-friendly $15 (CZK 345) on a braised deer leg. The menu’s price range explains why such a young crowd could enjoy it, too.
And they serve lots of varieties of beer which also, no doubt, appeals to the young crowd. Importantly, Červený Jelen has a respectable wine list (including lots of by-the-glass offerings) to go with all the wonderful steaks and other meats they serve.
A Meat Lover’s Paradise
We waited until after our first course to decide on our main courses, and the waiter gave us all the time – and help – we needed. We both ordered different steaks from Argentina as main dishes, and both were cooked to (medium) perfection, just as we had ordered. Too many Prague eateries believe that medium is more done than it should be, but not Červený Jelen.
An Award-Winning Chef
Fine Wine and More
The Desserts Take the Cake
So, I had a look, but this only made my decision more difficult, as I wanted them all! We finally decided on the dark chocolate beer cake for me and the pistachio profiterole for my friend. I also ordered an expresso.
When my espresso arrived, I could tell immediately that it was of good quality by the color and foam on top. A closer look at the logo on the cup confirmed this, as it was a good brand that I recognized. This is an important touch, as too many restaurants skimp on their brand of coffee, or they don’t know better. But Červený Jelen got it right. It was also prepared well and served hot with a bit of steamed milk on the side. A nice touch was a shot of Bailey’s that came with it.
Overall, I was very pleased and very impressed with Červený Jelen – its atmosphere, food, décor and staff. I’m really happy that I finally got to try it, and it’s wonderful to have a new – and unique – restaurant on Prague’s already wonderful but ever improving dining scene. I will definitely go back!