British expats living in Prague have been relatively well catered for. First by Robertson’s, the chain of butchers and delicatessens started by ex-farmer Chris Robertson that has grown from a bacon and sausage delivery business to 4 outlets over the past decade. Then there’s the half-hearted effort made by UK-owned supermarket chain Tesco, with a smattering of British products in the International Foods aisle. In the mid 2000s, the middle-class high street retail darling Marks & Spencer realised that food was the anchor for their stores, added a dry goods, then frozen foods and bakery sections and expanded across the Czech capital and to other cities too. Finally, meat-lovers are exceptionally well served by The Real Meat Society, a butcher’s shop owned and run by chef Paul Day, of Sansho.
Today was a landmark event for British expats, the opening of the fresh foods section at two branches of Marks & Spencer (Wenceslas Square right in the centre and the Chodov mall in the suburbs). At this point I’m not sure whether to be happy or sad about this development. Make no mistake, ‘Marks & Spensive’ (as I’ve called it since childhood – and it’s definitely not cheap!) are doing something pretty impressive here. Trucking chilled fresh food half-way across Europe (and probably flying some in too – they’re stocking fresh sandwiches, made in the UK) is no mean feat.
Apologies for the blurriness in the gallery below, the lighting wasn’t the best!
The happiness comes from the fact that I can walk around a ‘best-of’ M&S food hall and get all my favourite things from home, including versions of staples not sold here, like single or double cream. The part that worries me is the inclusion of things that are available here already from speciality shops. If I want prosciutto or buffalo mozzarella I can go to one of the many Italian delis (and pay less too). If I want quality cuts of meat then the English butchers already here are a better bet.
Those concerns aside, if you’re here on vacation staying in a self-catering apartment in the centre of Prague and need to shop for quality food, then M&S is well located and should have pretty much everything you’ll need, with the advantage of everything being labelled in English.