Thursday, August 22, 2013

Restaurant Review: Grazing Daysi

  Roasted carrot and beetroot soup.

I want to tell you about a lovely little restaurant that is hidden in a corner of Divoká Šárka. You probably haven't heard about it, even if you follow the latest restaurant comings-and-goings in Prague. It's called Grazing Daysi and its motto is "Eat Your Best, Leave The Rest." It's a vegetarian restaurant run by a charming Brit named Gary Wright, who's also the chef.

The restaurant is on the northwestern shore of Džbán, the small lake on the edge of Šárka. It's housed in a building that Gary told me used to be the home of one of Prague's most famous butchers, during communist rule. Then it became a disco until that, too, closed.

It's an odd place for a butcher, a disco, or a restaurant, to be honest. You can't really drive to the restaurant, and it's a bit of a walk from the nearest tram stop. But I think it's worth it. Much of the restaurant is open-air, with long lace curtains billowing in the breeze, and tables recycled from old wooden pallets, and when the weather's nice, as it has been, it's a beautiful spot to relax and enjoy some delicious, and healthy, food, prepared and presented simply.

As the website and Facebook page describes it:

Family-friendly vegetarian restaurant passionate about healthy, seasonal, nutritious food cooked with love, insight and attention. We are using preservative-free, colouring-free, additive-free ingredients, organic and local where possible. Grazing Daysi doesn't use white flour, white sugar and processed food. We provide gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free options.

The menu changes daily (the restaurant's only open Fridays through Sundays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.), so it's hard to recommend specific dishes. The only thing I can say with certainty is that when you go, make sure you order the soup. Let me repeat: Whatever soup is on offer, order it. Gary is a master. The other day, I had a bowl of rich roasted carrot and beetroot soup that was to die for. On a previous visit, a carrot and sweet potato soup was also heavenly.

As for main dishes, we've enjoyed black and urad dal with green tomatoes and rice or chapati, as well as chapati rolls with cucumber raita. While tasty, I've found the main courses to be  a little bland. I'd prefer a bit more oomph, but they're likely cooked to appeal more to Czechs, who are not noted for their love of spice.

Chapati rolls with cucumber raita, and a cold bottle of Matuška California. 

For dessert, a vegan fruit crumble hit the spot, but I didn't finish a very generous portion of gluten-free tapioca pudding with strawberries. Again, rather bland and not very appealingly presented. Grazing Daysi also offers an assortment of ice creams and sorbets -- some made there, most from a small local Prague creamery -- that are worth saving room for.

Prices are around 90 CZK for the soups and 200 CZK for the main courses. Desserts range from 55 CZK to 65 CZK.

In addition to the vegetarian fixings, Grazing Daysi also serves fresh juices, homemade lemonades, and a variety of teas, some very drinkable Czech wines, and, most importantly, beer from the celebrated Matuška brewery, whose California Pale Ale is one of my all-time favorites. A small bottle is 64 CZK.

The restaurant also offers regular Kids Days, with all sorts of activities aimed at the little ones.

Grazing Daysi is a unique spot. And I'm very lucky to be able to walk to it from where I live. But even if you have to take a tram or a taxi, check it out. Combine lunch with a walk through the park. And if you're feeling brave, pay a visit to the nude beach just down the shore. You'll be feeling good about yourself, after all, for having chosen such a healthy restaurant.

Carrot and sweet potato soup.

Black and urad dal with green tomatoes and chapati and a fresh salad with pumpkin gomasio.

Vegan and gluten-free tapioca pudding with strawberries. 

Fruit crumble.