Prominently ensconced at the entrance of downtown Cary’s Ashworth Village, Klara’s Restaurant provides an inviting milieu to would-be diners and regulars alike. Klara’s represents the Triangle area’s first authentic Czech eating establishment, which opened last September.
Prague-born Klara Novakova and her business partner, Chip Sands, assumed the lease on the building that formerly housed Vespa and transitioned it into a European restaurant of a considerably different ilk. These days, even amid the economic downtown, loyal patrons frequent Klara’s in droves. This, no doubt, is testament to the quality cuisine, enchanting ambiance and a gracious wait staff who treat customers like guests in their own homes.
Novakova moved to the United States some nine years ago with dreams of ultimately opening a restaurant. “I earned a hospitality degree in Prague, and then eventually I was able to follow through with fulfilling my desire,” she revealed. “It’s been wonderful to see the support of people here in Cary as well as those who have moved here or are visiting from Europe.”
Inside her namesake restaurant, sunny yellow walls are adorned with picturesque vistas of Prague painted by Novakova’s father. The main dining room’s antique pine floor is nicely balanced by a high-pitched ceiling that makes for an open yet not-too-expansive setting that seats about 65 patrons. A floor-to-ceiling handcrafted mural of the Charles Bridge, one of Prague’s most famous tourist attractions, spans the entire back wall.
Prefer dining outside? Check out the spacious patio filled with marble-topped tables shaded by oversized umbrellas. Both the patio and the main dining room provide an ideal setting for a business lunch, romantic dinner or any special occasion.
“We make the restaurant available for weddings, parties and other private events,” said Novakova.
When it comes to the food, Klara’s extensive menu contains can’t-go-wrong items from start to finish. Among the nine available appetizers, particularly winning options include the soft-boiled egg à la Prague with cured ham served over a creamy potato salad; pan-fried potato pancakes with sour cream; and the cutting board, which comprises a palatable mixture of various cheeses accompanied with slices of rolled salami and prosciutto ham. “That one is good for sharing,” Novakova said.
Several main course dishes are worthy of serious consideration. Melt-in-your-mouth house-specialty roasted pork tenderloin comes served with sauerkraut and homemade potato dumplings. Chicken Prague features strips of tender chicken breast sautéed with mushrooms, peppers, onions and zucchini with potato pancakes. Then there’s the succulent roasted half duck with red cabbage and dumplings. The duck is only available on weekends or by request with a full day’s advance notice. “It has to be roasted in the oven for three and a half hours,” Novakova explained. “But it is absolutely delicious.”
If you are in the mood for red meat, opt for Bohemian roast beef. Want seafood? Whole trout with garlic sauce or the seafood kabob with salmon, tuna and shrimp should hit the spot. Strictly vegetarian? Homemade ravioli with spinach and ricotta cheese is a surefire choice. Without question, Klara’s has all the culinary bases covered and then some.
Also worth noting is a distinctive children’s menu featuring items that start at just $1.99. Kids’ selections include cheese sticks, penne with tomato sauce and fried or grilled chicken breast.
As for pairing a flavorsome red or white wine with your meal, Klara’s offers a variety of robust selections by the glass or bottle, and most are positioned on nearby wine racks.
“We have about 40 different bottles and 14 available by the glass,” Novakova said. Also served are Czech beers Pilsner Urquell and Czechvar in addition to the well-regarded liquor Becherovka.
Tantalizing made-in-house dessert options abound. Consider the scrumptious crepes with vanilla ice cream, the decadent chocolate lava cake or the house-favorite fresh apple strudel. Be sure to top off the experience with an espresso, cappuccino or café latte.
Closed on Mondays, Klara’s is open six days a week for lunch and dinner. A convenient calendar of events is available on the restaurant’s Web site. Reservations are accepted anytime but are strongly encouraged on weekend evenings.
200 S. Academy St., Suite 100, Cary