Finger licking in Romania: Ep.9 Style dining Brașov

The best thing about Brașov is that you hardly get bored about it, at least as a tourist and not as a resident. Still, I am one of those guys that consider that being a citizen of Brașov is one of those things that really add up to your overall quality of life. The fact that in spite of the season this city is always in the “tourist form” is a thing that can’t get past you very easily, especially if you are one to look into the details of fine services, good food and why not, decent wine. Brașov is amazing about this and in the city center you can always find good places to really enjoy what you eat in an old city feeling.

The “good pedigree” restaurant

The first time we went into “Prato“, we managed to book a table, during the day, around 31st of December. It was not easy, though in general, it is. During such a full season though, Brașov tends to lose the “decent” part as it is overcrowded with tourists. Also, the places in the good restaurants are numbered while “Prato” is one of those that really don’t lack place. The space inside is generous enough and in most nights you won’t even need a reservation. If you’re looking for a two places table you are almost sure to get one. We heard a lot about the place even before and it looked as it was that overly priced type of restaurant where you pay for a dinner more than you get. Once we entered we really had that impression as close to our booked table there was the table of the Minister of Transport and his whole, damn family, with infants and old people, one crying the other one complaining.

I got over the wrong ideas I had once I managed to know the place as I have, already, dined here a few times…

Prato is that sort of a place that serves “Mare e monti” things at a level you wouldn’t expect. If even a Mediterranean coast guy described their octopus as being “great” I suppose the guys over in the kitchen know their drills and how to cook. Also, their supply chain and solution must be great because they go so far as to have a “fresh fish” bar, from where you can chose the catch that you want. Somehow, they get unfrozen fish, most probably from a fast connection with Greece.

You get oysters, sea bass, flukes, shrimps and all sorts of sea creatures just as much as you get the steaks. They have this nice freezer where they keep the meat at a certain temperature and moisture, having the big chunk of beef labelled when it went in, and based on the cuts they have there, and the age it has and of course, you being the one to chose, they can serve you with things like T-bone steaks, chateau briands or maybe a ribeye.

It’s not a cheap restaurant. Not the mexican type of place where you leave with stomach burns and heavier belly but wealthier. These are decent prices for people that accept to pay a bottle of wine 4 times its retail price while spending around 20 euros for a decent stake. At the end of the day, for a couple in which he only drinks a glass of wine and both enjoy a decent meal, it will be a little bit over 50 euro dinner.


There’s a reason for the pedigree folks

Always. As it feels, as it’s decorated, as it’s equipped and as it’s staffed up with personnel, so does it taste. I’ve tried quite a lot in this place and I have to say that this is maybe my favourite place I found so far. To this adds up everything, from the quality of the food and the luck to be located on such a nice, central but still secluded street, in Brașov. I have to say that I went crazy for the way they prepare the sea bass tartare, of which I was afraid after I’ve ordered it. I don’t usually try tartar (be it beef or otherwise) unless I feel really comfortable with the place and the cook but I have to say that since the first time I ate over here I got captured by the chance to come back and try something new.

And so I did. Almost every time I went for different things.

With the exception of the octopus. Which, even if I didn’t order, I always pushed someone else to try it, so I can get a bite. Of which octopus I never managed to steal one photo as I don’t give a fuck about photos anymore about the time it reaches the table. It’s me or it.

I’ve had the crispy duck leg, which was great together with red wine the guy recommended at the time (and which I really can’t remember as I’m not a fucking connoisseur). It was either because I was already drunk or because the duck was incredible, I don’t know, I only remember I ate it in such a way that at the end I was ashamed by my behaviour.

In spite of all these, I couldn’t really say much about the beef. Those who already follow my food travels around my country already know that I’m not a stake man, although I do eat beef with pleasure in very few occasions and culinary endeavours. Still, I have tried it in “Prato” as well and for me, it’s just plain uneatable while my partners in crime were enjoying every little bit of the bloody thing. So I don’t want to give a measure of my lack of knowledge on this subject so from this respect I will pass comment on the beef as I really have no knowledge of how the fuck you can eat a raw, thick, bloody piece of meat.

It’s a w(h)ine thing

There’s this thing that older men do: we like to go into fancy places, order some nice bottle of wine that maybe we never had before, pay 4-5 times its retail price and then, at the end of it, complain about it. It was either too sharp or maybe too sweet, or in the case of sparkling it lacked the power or the finesse.

In “Prato” I can go into two directions:

a) if I’m paying I’m being cautious and I’m going to stay on the “safe is what you know” road;

or

b) when I’m not paying I’m encouraging people to be bold and try new things… I love trying new things on somebody else’s money;

What I discovered, when speaking about wines, through “Prato”, is “Franciacorta Barbalonga” sparkling. Never tried it before, didn’t know about it either and funny thing is that Romanian Google returned 2 searches only when I checked where I can buy it from. One of the results is “Prato” so I guess they import it themselves. It’s a sweet and not too powerful sparkling that to me has a very sweet after taste (even though it’s a dry thing). Because of this sweetness I felt I got mocked by my table colleagues, telling me to put out the chewing gum inside my mouth. Of course I didn’t have one.

The cherry on the cake…

…no, literally. I’m gonna speak to you now about the deserts. Yes, the sweet nectar that accompanies any last minutes in a restaurant and/or one last bottle of wine that is going to send you straight to bed tonight.

“Prato” has a lot to say about deserts as in my personal oppinion, they are among the best. And I’m not a “desert” kind of guy. Usually I pass deserts with the clear exception that I’ll eat the heart out of any cake that is well prepared, in top restaurant where I HAVE TO TRY. Over here they don’t have to tell me twice to do so…

When me and the guys usually come inside “Prato”, we move directly to the cake display in order to reserve all the tiramisu there is there and some other, additional cakes that may send calls to us. With the dessert settled we can move on to dinner and wines, traditional way.

They make a damn nice tiramisu, I’ll give them that and I’m saying this as a guy that goes for the tiramisu when he has to accompany the rest in their midnight, cake journeys. I had tiramisu almost everywhere I went around and I’ve tried a lot of recipes and here is one of the best (I will not say “the best” as I really had better).

If you’re in town for wine and dine, “Prato” is the place. Take my word for it, you won’t get disappointed here. I used to come in town especially for this Mexican restaurant that closed some time along the way, a cheesy place, underground, with a very weird looking guy as the waiter and a very suspicious lack of other personnel and clients.

The food was delicious though; always; period.

Meanwhile, I went on and escalated through the centre of Brașov to places like “Prato” that not only take the service to another level but also keeps the thing with the tasty food around these parts awake…

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