Many foreigners who settle down in Prague are opening their own small restaurants and food specialty shops, bringing their country’s food culture to the Czech Republic. The Slovenian couple Meti and Primoz run a Deli and Diner in Prague 6 which offers a variety of Slovenian and Mediterranean dishes that celebrate fresh and locally grown ingredients. I sat down with Meti to talk about how they got the idea of opening a restaurant and what makes their restaurant Nenasyta the 25th best restaurant in Prague.
“The whole idea started around two years and a half ago when I and my partner decided to start our own business. He studied to be a chef when he was young but his path led him in another direction, he worked in marketing a long time and I worked as a psychologist so I was also out of this business, but we both loved food and were always searching for good local suppliers of cheeses, meats, and vegetables, we would go to the farms and buy the food directly from the farmers. So when we moved to Prague we felt that there’s still a lot of good food missing here and a lot of things that we can offer from Slovenia so we decided to start our own business and we called it Foodadventure. Foodadventure is our brand name because we felt that it was like an adventure for us when we go to Slovenia to select the farmers. It is an adventure when we visit these families - they are small businesses really – to choose the products we talk to them about how they produce everything and see it personally and it’s also an adventure for our clients when we bring the stuff back to Prague and we put it on the plates and we let them taste it and we tell them the story behind it, how it was made, where it comes from and so on. Some of the products have for example, designation of origin with the EU protecting things which have a long tradition in Slovenia. So we thought this was like a food adventure, so we have this restaurant and the farmers market.”
“When we moved to Prague we thought there was still a lot of good food missing here”
What kind of dishes does your menu consist of and what do you think it the theme of the menu?
“We like to keep the menu very seasonal so we always use food that’s available in the season, for example now in the winter time we serve a lot of things with sauerkraut or sour turnip, that are present in a lot of Slovenian traditional dishes for example Yota, it’s a dish with sour turnip, beans, potatoes, and Slovenian sausage. And then we also bring for example fresh winter salads from Slovenia because there’s not a lot of vegetables in the Czech republic now, so we bring radicchio and lambs lettuce and things like ruccola, and Istok prepares homemade gnocchi and homemade pasta, and in the season for truffles which was from November to the beginning of January there were fresh white truffles so we would serve gnocchi with fresh white truffles, or some good organic steak with truffles. Our menu consists of a lot of seafood also, and that we get from the Croatian fisherman from the Adriatic Sea. We have a very good supplier of fish in Prague, they bring it directly from Croatia, so we do seafood risotto, or grilled calamari with mungles and potatoes or wild Adriatic fish baked in the oven with vegetables and potatoes and things like that.”
What’s your personal favorite?
What kind of experience are you trying to create in this setting?
“Our idea was to have a place where the guests would feel like they came to our friends’ house, to feel like they are at home sitting with someone and they would feel relaxed, not very tied up in a classic restaurant setting. We want them to relax and enjoy the food so we want to keep everything very personal and family style. That’s why we also have a very small place and we have this big communal table where people can sit together like a family. So that was our idea and also when we created the menus, when we thought about how to run the restaurant - we thought about ourselves – about what we want when we eat out. Like, for example, I always hated being charged for water, so we offer free water. And when there were a lot of great dishes we couldn’t decide what to take, and we always wanted to try different things so in our restaurant we offer the guests smaller portions of everything and that way they can try more things not just one big portion and then you cannot try the other five things which you wanted, so we do like a six-course tasting menu and things like that.”
That’s really smart. Where do the recipes come from?
“If you can’t decide what to have – try a six-course tasting menu”
“Most of our recipes come from the tradition legacy of the Slovenian and Mediterranean cuisine. We also use a lot of recipes for seafood from the Dalmatian islands, where we used to go cruising with a sailing boat and you will find there some recipes that only some old ladies on the island still know how to prepare them and they are really interesting like octopus patties, or octopus burgers, they make goulash from calamari and things like that which you will not usually find in a classical restaurant. Then also the Slovenian cuisine was very much influenced by the whole Austro-Hungarian Empire so from this we get a lot of meat dishes in the winter, things with sauerkraut like I mentioned things with sausages and then a lot of roast meat in the oven and some very luxurious and very rich desserts. We do a layered cake with walnuts, poppy seeds, apples, cottage cheese, which is like an explosion of taste! All of this influenced Slovenian cuisine and so our menu is a mixture of the Mediterranean and Austrian and Hungarian and all these dishes.”
Why do you think it is so important to get all of your food locally?
“Well, with fresh food it’s best to get it locally, because you know you are going to be getting the best quality if you get it from the local farms and also we believe the smaller the farm or the smaller the producer is, the better the quality because they really focus on quality, how they grow the vegetables for example, or for the meat how they mature it and how they process it - all those things are very important to us. And as for the delicacies which we sell on the markets they come from Slovenian farms, these are things we import from Slovenia and these are things you can’t get here for example the dried prosciutto or the dried salamis you need a special climate for that and it comes from the seaside in Slovenia where there is a strong wind there and it actually dried on the air. It’s a special method and the products are very delicious and they are without any chemistry and without any artificial additives - that’s something very important to us, to keep the food natural.”
You go to a lot of farmers markets around Prague, why do you do that and why do you think it is important?
“For us, when we started we went to a lot of markets that’s true but now we decided to keep only a few of them and to be the best we can be on those few markets. It’s very important to be on the market because there you have a big crowd of people coming and we can sell and present our delicacies the best way and also its very important for us to do promotion for the restaurant there and to kind of promote the whole idea of our Foodadventure.”
Where do you want to see Nenasyta and Foodadventure in the next five years?
“Wow, that’s a tough question. Of course, when we started, our plan was to not only have the farmers markets and the restaurant, but also a bit of tourism. Our idea was to take people on a food adventure culinary experience, to go to Slovenia or Croatia and for example go looking for truffles with the truffle seekers and then go to a very nice restaurant for a very nice dinner and then go to a wine cellar where the wine producer would have a wine tasting session for us and maybe do some site seeing in between, so this is something that we want to develop in the near future and in the more distant future we are also thinking about going to another country, we’re thinking about Germany, Berlin or maybe Scandinavia in the future, but this is still somewhat blurry. First we want to set this thing very straight and to have it stable in Czech Republic.”