No-frills sticks-to-your-ribs, not fine dining
Posted on 07 / 03 / 2009
Country Life deserves a lot of kudos for serving up vegie food since the days when "salad" in the Czech Rep. basically meant "cabbage" and raw vegetables seemed to have been outlawed* ... and their salad bar is great if you need a raw veg. hit with trimmings like sprouts, seeds, etc. That said, most of the hot food is pretty much variations on a theme - where unfortunately the theme is "slop on a plate". There's almost always some version of quasi-baked potatoes, a soup, a dish with pulses, one with "fake meat" stuff, one (or more) vegetable dish(es), etc. If you were blindfolded, the texture would be the only giveaway as to which of the above you were eating, as the flavours tend to be pretty much uniform. Czechs, unlike their Hungarian neighbours, are not even remotely into spicey food, and nowhere in Prague does this become more obvious than at CL.
As everyone else has said, it's self-service, not very expensive, and it's very central. When you can't handle another restaurant in Prague with smoke so thick you could cut it with a knife, and the perennial "vegetarian" dish that comes with ham or bacon (!), then CL can come in handy. The ambiance is possilby best described as "high school cafeteria meets Czech 1980s hippy". They also have quite an extensive social programme, helping many less fortunate members of Czech society.
Summary: If you're after "haute gastronomy", this is really not the place to head to.
*Note: this is actually closer to the truth than I intended - CL is ... Mormon? 7th Day Adventist? can't remember, sorry ... so in fact their emergence, unsurprisingly, occurred after the end of communism.
non-smoking, free water, not a piece of ham or bacon in sight!
bland, bland, bland, Ambiance of a rented caravan :(