I was a fuego’s, watering the plants, when the call came from Soup Boy. “You wanna come downtown?”
“I just came from there.”
“I know. But I have an idea.”
I was pretty sure I knew what his idea was. There’s a place down there in Slovansky Dům called Ambiente. The restaurant is based on a simple idea, modeled, I think on similar restaurants in Brazil. You sit, order drinks, and they hand you a menu. Only it’s not a menu, really, it’s more of a guide, explaining what all the different items are.
The subject of this restaurant had come up some time before when I was reminiscing about sushi. There are a couple of pretty dang good sushi places in San Diego, and it has been a long time since I’ve been to one. Ambiente has sushi.
Ordering is simple there; you have two choices. Meat or no meat. No meat means you must be content with the rather lavish “salad bar”, which includes lots of tasty things, including meat and sushi. If you order meat, not only do you have salad bar privileges, but you also get to partake of the meat parade. As it was my first time, naturally I had to get the whole experience. I ordered Meat.
When Soup Boy had first come to Prague, this location had been a bar called Joshua Tree, and his first job in town was bartending there. The ownership had changed, but the wood paneling on the walls still had U2 lyrics artfully carved into it. The place was well-lit and busy, but not uncomfortably so. They apologized; without a reservation there was only room in the non-smoking section. A bonus not to be take for granted here. After we ordered I was awarded a giant Meat Plate and a small set of tongs as a symbol of my quest. Soup Boy, recovering from illness as he was, chose to go small-scale.
He explained the tongs. “Sometimes when they are serving you meat, you will use these to help.”
Then began the Meat Parade. Between the tables passed servers carrying skewers of various dead animals, everything from chicken hearts to beef filet with Parmesan. Sausage, pork, various beef, veal, chicken (when the chicken wrapped with bacon came by, Soup Boy said, “Any time you take one animal, and wrap it around another animal, it’s going to be good.”), and fish. On and on it went, more than a dozen different dishes altogether, including roasted pineapple, which I discovered made all the other things on my plate less filling. The Meat Parade continued, and some of the servers were quite insistent that I take more of whatever it was they were flogging at the moment. Between that and two loads from the salad bar I ate a lot — I mean a lot, of good food. (Although, the sushi, truth be told, was limited in variety and not the best. Not the worst, either – I had quite a lot of it.)
By the time I got home, I was approaching comatose. My belly was a ponderous mountain as I lay on my back. I had joined the Meat Parade, and I had done my share. I am honestly amazed at how much I was able to eat.
It has been about eighteen hours since I got the call, and now, as I write this, I’m starting to feel just a wee bit hungry again.