|Yeah, it's kinda like that|
The fact of the matter is: Beer is made of barley. And without barley, it is very difficult to make beer.
Who knew Prague had a big Gluten-Free scene?
In preparing for our trip to the Czech Republic, Liz found a reference to an all-Gluten-Free restaurant near the city-centre. Since many Czech dishes feature huge, bread-based dumplings and are thus, the opposite of gluten-free, we made it a priority to have a meal at this restaurant, and set out to find it on our first day in Prague.
At The Golden Crossing
The restaurant is called Na Zlate Krsizovatce, which translates to "At The Golden Crossing." Most traditional Czech restaurants and pubs are named in the At The <colour> <noun> format, so it definitely looked promising in that regard.
We walked in, and were immediately asked if we had made a reservation. Given that we had pretty much just gotten off of a plane, we of course, had not. Nonetheless, they managed to squeeze us in (note to potential future patrons: it's a small place, so call ahead if you can).
You can check out the restaurant's website here.
Celia: That's Czech for Really Good Gluten-Free Beer
Looking at the menu, there were two beer choices: Pilsner Urquell, and Celia, a gluten-free beer made by Zatec brewery in the Czech Republic. Liz had read some very unflattering reviews about Celia online and was actually considering just ordering wine, but after some thought, we figured that we had to at least try it (and at $2 after exchange rates, it's not like we were making a big bet on it or anything).
Seriously, some of the reviews of Celia on-line are pretty scathing. "Tastes like a cross between non-alcoholic beer and ginger ale" I think was one of them. Ouch, right? So, my expectations were pretty modest for this. Hence my surprise when I took my first sip and tasted beer. In fact, it tasted so much like regular beer, that I was a little bit concerned that they had poured us regular beers instead. The waiter assured us that we were in fact drinking gluten-free beers and boasted of the Czech achievement in the gluten-free arena.
And it really is an achievement. Certainly, Celia is not going to conjure up memories of Sam Adams or Guinness for anyone, but in terms of delivering a crisp, lagery experience to one's palette without gluten, it is without peer.
Trust the Czechs, the people who perfected the pilsner style, to figure out the world's best gluten free version.
Zatec's English website doesn't have any information on Celia as they don't seem to export it anywhere yet, but if you can read some Czech, you can go to their Czech site.
Post-Script: Oh yeah, the food
Beyond the beer, the rest of the meal was excellent. We tried their garlic soup, and their chicken noodle soup as starters. Both were excellent as expected - over multiple trips to the Czech Republic, we've never had a soup course there that wasn't awesome.
For entrees Liz had goulash, and I had beef tenderloin in cream sauce, both served with big, gluten-free knedlicky (Czech bread dumplings). The beef in cream sauce was one of the best versions of that dish I've had. The goulash was OK, but the sauce was a little too heavily seasoned, making it hard to taste the pork through all the paprika and salt.
If you're traveling in Prague, and have a gluten restriction, a meal at Na Zlate Krsizovace is a must.