We are delighted to announce that Jane Bower from Cambridge is the winner of the Decanter/Tastes of Italy Truffle Hunting Competition - with her brilliant review of the Triton restaurant in Prague.
It’s difficult to find an eatery in Prague that is not subterranean. I dined in more cellars, vaults and caves there in three days than I had probably ever visited.
So it was unsurprising that the gleaming stairs of the Hotel Adria in Wenceslas Square led into the bowels of the earth – but the interior drew a delighted and incredulous gasp.
Intimate and unexpected, the Triton Restaurant, preserved since 1912, is encrusted with stalactites, which share wall space with Art Nouveau decoration, inset fish tanks and three-dimensional figures from Greek mythology.
This, teamed with graceful black chairs and fine pink and white table linen, made it momentarily hover between elegance and kitsch, but it has an endearingly naive quality. The head waiter is the Czech version of Jeeves, his demeanour, appearance and English equally impeccable. Service is discreet, perfectly timed and never interfering.
Sparkling Kir Royales were placed respectfully before us, followed by small warm white knots of bread with a sour cream spread and a tiny aspic jelly resembling an exquisite brooch. Delicate starters of goats’ cheese and salmon, delighting equally the eye and the palate, were followed by a stunning fish course, unpretentiously presented and cooked to perfection.
The flawless meal was accompanied by a superb wine and unobtrusive music from a Tuxedoed pianist at the sleek black baby grand opposite Orpheus and Eurydice.
On booking for the following night, Jeeves merely inclined his head as if in complete understanding. This time we indulged in melting smoked duck breast, ravioli so fresh it was almost unrecognisable as pasta, and pork, which we agreed must have come from some flying, heavenly pig owned by Zeus.
Returning four years later, the bizarre and beloved interior remained unchanged, with Jeeves still in charge. A broken glass was discreetly removed as if by sleight of hand. The puddings were so exquisite we opted for the taster plate. Instead of the expected spoonful of each, we received six miniature versions, each a jewelled dolls’ house dessert.
This beautiful experience, combining professionalism and warmth with grace, is strangely humbling, especially as it comes at Prague prices. The Triton remains, thus far, my very favourite restaurant.
Written by Jane Bower