I’ll definitely come back for a burger and some onion rings especially during lunch or midday and would recommend it to visitors and locals. Taken together, the food, service and price create dining value. I just wish I could get past the issue with their buns and the noise-polluting blender in the bar.
The full experience
Although I typically advocate grazing from the local fare as part of the traveling experience, there comes a point in time for both visitors and resident locals in Prague when they tire of smoked pork, dumplings and rich sauces and yearn for a taste of familiarity. And for a lot of folks that means a damn good burger. When I first arrived fifteen years ago a hamburger here in Prague meant something akin to a SPAMburger consisting of processed mystery meats. So the term hamburger rather quickly fell out of my vocabulary. My upcoming Prague Food Revolution series showcases just how much the food scene has changed, beginning with my two recent experiences at Joy Burger bar & grill.
Joy Burger bar & grill’s rather on the simple side menu is refreshing for folks like me who tire easily from endless craft-it-yourself choices found in American burger joints like The Counter. I prefer a more refined selection of burger combinations created by folks who love making burgers.
From their menu, I’ve tried the following:
Cheddar burger. This is one of the best tests of anyone’s burger abilities — kind of like a Margherita pizza at a pizza joint. The burger itself is a decent portion of well-seasoned meat cooked a bit on the medium well side of the grill spectrum and rests on lettuce and chipotle mayo. Atop that sits melted cheddar cheese and grilled onions. I like to cut my burgers in half because I still believe, perhaps in vain, that this makes for a less messy ordeal. But with overly-toasted, dry buns it falls apart when cut, creating the potential for a highly messy plate and fingers — or lap if you just happen to be that unlucky. I would order this again, but let's be a bit more generous with the cheddar cheese please.
Scallopini chicken burger. I ordered this during my second experience when I was in the mood for a lighter fare burger. It looked like the chicken had been butterflied and the two pieces stacked on top of each other. I think it would have turned out more moist had the breast been left in tact and served whole. When reflecting on the flavor profile it’s hard not to be distracted by those super-toasty, dry buns again. Next time I will stick to a more traditional beef burger.
Onion rings. Lightly battered tempura-style these are some of the best onion rings I’ve eaten in Prague to date. This is a huge compliment coming from one who grew up in the southeast USA where not only is almost everything fried, but is home to the world’s largest drive-in fast food restaurant. Just be sure to eat them all while they’re still hot.
Nachos. The tortilla chips were light, crispy and not greasy, but the rather scant amount of cheddar cheese was melted (microwaved) over the top meaning that quite sadly only a few of those tortilla chips actually got to mingle with the cheese.
Fries. From old-fashioned julienne fries to the thicker steak fries I have to say I’m a fan of the latter here at Joy Burger, perhaps just because I eat them less frequently.
Sauces. A variety of sauces are offered for your dipping pleasure. I’d love to see the chipotle mayo switched out for something a bit bolder, like sriracha mayo for instance. The thing that gets me riled up is the price of the sauces. Paying for condiments like ketchup or mayo to go along with your fries is insanity. Perhaps that’s just a bit of American entitlement seeping in. I’ll save that rant for another post though.
All thumbs up and smiles. It’s nice to see service improving across the board at restaurants in Prague. Both times my reservations were made over the phone with the help of an enthusiastic and friendly staffer. And upon arrival at Joy Burger I was greeted with an equal level of enthusiasm and smiles which was experienced throughout the entire service.
In fact, the staff are so nice that during my last experience I felt compelled to stand up for them and scold a restaurant-goer seated at the table next to me who became unnecessarily angry and abusive towards the waiter.
Just steps from centrally located Namesti Republiky, the Joy Burger bar & grill interior is reminiscent of a modern American-style sports bar although the open floor plan is stymied by too closely situated tables. And it can get a little loud at times between the near-constant, unnecessary droaning of the bar blender, the music and chatter from neighboring tables.
I regularly pass by Joy Burger bar & grill and most times it appears near-capacity so you’ll probably want to make a reservation — especially if one of their Hangover Burgers is a crucial remedy towards your recovery after a long weekend night out.
Their absurdly small bathrooms, even by European standards, can lead to an awkward dance if nature beckons and left me cursing the architect, but the super cleanly spotlessness of the establishment makes up for that. For the handicapped and mobility impaired, I would not classify this as a barrier-free establishment.
Joy Burger bar & grill
Celetna 988/38, Prague 1
Metro: Namesti Republiky
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Link to this story: http://www.wessence.com/news/prague-joy-burger-bar-and-grill
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