Forbidden Taste pop-up restaurant // Prague
Summer time is travel time. And if you are planning to visit Prague any time soon, remember the golden city’s culinary program offers more than just dumplings. Still, when asking around for an underground restaurant in Prague, you risk to be given the same answer as Kate, an unknown Australian tourist contacting a local travel website: “Actually there are many restaurants in Prague that have underground spaces. [...] you will see signs near entrances to restaurants that say ‘Cellar Restaurant’ or ‘Cellar Dining’.”
Whilst it is not known what finally happened to Kate and her exotic appetite, there is an alternative to sitting at a basement table and watching dogs and trouser legs passing in front of a tiny window high-up: Forbidden Taste, Prague’s so far only pop-up restaurant that has recently opened its doors. The first event took place in a former transformation station, a location probably looking a bit shabby in the daylight. But beautifully illuminated and decorated for the occasion, it proved to be a perfect environment. Not before midday, the guests received a text message, asking them to gather at a specific underground station and watch out for a mysterious “lady who is not afraid of fire”: A lady with a fire distinguisher who guided them to the venue where the hosts were already awaiting them. Ivon and Tino are a young couple from Slovakia who had moved to Prague 18 months ago. Both travel a lot and always try to experience the local cuisine as much as possible, including private pop-up restaurants of which they have visited some. Since settling down in Prague, they have been eating themselves through the city’s restaurants, many great and some not so great ones, but often missed something that goes further than just having a nice meal.
None of the two has a professional background in gastronomy, they simply love great food and extraordinary experiences. Ivon works in marketing, Tino runs his own fashion label. With a good dose of entrepreneurial spirit and the right contacts they managed to set up an exceptional event. One that did combine the morbid charm of an old industrial building with state of the art contemporary cuisine, live music all night long and an interesting mix of people from various different backgrounds. A couple of helping hands and supporters were involved of course, for example chef Petr Henes, a young experimental talent, who is a close friend of Ivon and Tino. Despite his young age, Petr has already worked in Bali, Argentina and Austria. For Forbidden Taste he created a gourmet menu starting with veal tartar with zucchini salad, then grilled crawfish tail with pea purrée, asparagus cappuccino with confit tiger prawn and pecorino cheese, a cranberry granite, and as the main course sous vide pork Tenderloin with puy lentils and thyme juice – all together for €60 including wine. The homemade bread and the dessert – a Cabernet & Camembert cake – were prepared by Ivon, as were the small presents for each of the guests to take back home and enjoy the next morning at breakfast.
Getting a good mix of people together in one place is particularly important to Ivon and Tino. This is why just sending a simple reservation request is not enough to be accepted. Forbidden Taste is asking for some little bit of creativity, a short reasoning on why someone should be invited in, including the person he or she plans to bring along. This isn’t meant to exclude anyone. Tino and Ivon just find the simple and pretty anonymous “first in, first served” registration rule too boring. Instead, they want to gather people that they feel they can connect to, and who will enjoy the particular type of event they provide.
The first twenty-something guests apparently did and keep on spreading the news so that the Forbidden Taste mailing list has been steadily growing since. Many new ideas have come up also, some new cool locations have been identified, and a second event is now planned for August, probably to be followed by another one in September. So join the mailing list, or if your Czech language skills allow: Keep an eye on the Forbidden Taste website.