My first ever Michelin experience was everything but what i had pictured it to be. Sure, perhaps you bourgeois people go to your schmancy restaurants whenever you’re out of bread, but for the poor student I was in 2008, the mere whisper of a Michelin star was enough to make me breathe faster.
Long story short, as with many firsts, this one happened when I expected it least – during a short hotel stay that H. surprised me with one day. “Bring comfy clothes and some fun bath stuff” was the only instructions I got, so yes I might have showed up at a Michelin table in my oversized jumper (back when oversized just meant grandma-baggy, without the hint of cool that is), with my hair still wet and smelling of blackberries, but hey ho, we were starving and too young to care.
(I sometimes wish I could let H. know how dearly I still cling to my memories of that beautiful night of rose sorbets and sublime views but ever since he’d left the country to live in some godforsaken desert, our communication got reduced to occassional cute dog picture exchange and some weather rants.)
My second Michelin encounter happened in a very different setting: with a new date desperate to make an impression, my dress to actually match the code and a three-week wait before we managed to get a table. This was no co-incidence: the already tiny Alcron has succeeded to get the Michelin star three years in a row now while at the same time managing to stay reasonably priced – a combination as pleasantly unique as it gets.
Despite being located in one of Prague’s least reputable locations (a.k.a Let any stag party guide you), the place makes you forget all about the outside world the very moment you enter. Housed in a beautiful art deco building (make sure you get lost on your way to the toilets!), Alcron oozes understated elegance and intimate ambience. The round walls with Tamara de Lempicka’s images of dancing New York couples, an original fireplace from the thirties and the softest lighting imaginable indeed make this a very date-friendly spot. Especially at dinner time, the lightly dimmed place fills with mostly couples, about equal parts [Radisson Blu] hotel guests and outside visitors.
I have been known to be way too critical about pretty much everything in restaurants but it’s places like these that make me produce that slightly disturbing blissful grin and a lot of very age-inappropriate squeaks of excitement. Every single detail in Alcron is the definition of perfection: the genuinely kind staff that doesn’t give up until they find your favourite wine based on your (very) sparse clues, the lovely authentic wines they get from my favourite Veltlin guys, the comforting jazz/rock compilations in the background, but most of all the mind-blowing edible masterpieces you get to spend some time around.
Somehow, Alcron’s celebrity chef Roman Paulus manages to balance molecular and hearty into a meal that never gets too sterile or too come-on-dude-that’s-an-empty-plate and leaves you excited about each and every forkful. The concept is one of a concise menu which allows you to pick your favourites into a 3-5 course menu of meals so fantastic you will be sorry you ever bitched about perfectionists.
I keep dreaming of their kumquat-pumpkin cheesecake, their incredibly fragrant cheeses and the jasmine tea smoked potato puree… Last but not least, I keep dreaming of another keen date in need of grand gestures… Nowadays they just take you for a quick cuppa and expect you to like them for who they are and stuff…
P.S. There’s a very, and by that I mean very fine ‘Be Bop’ bar just next to the restaurant (currently rating no.1 on Tripadvisor, too!), just make sure you don’t pop by on a weeknight like I did a couple of times as it tends to be rather deserted then.
Alcron, Štěpánská 40, Praha 1 (metro A: Muzeum)