Allegro restaurant, in the Four Seasons Hotel, is a cut above the closest competition in Prague. This is the only restaurant in the city that fully works in terms of service, decor and, most importantly, food.

Food is the order of business here, but the aesthetics of the presentation at Allegro somehow matches the high level of the food. More importantly the portions are more substantial than most expensive Nouveau Cuisine.

Each time I’ve eaten there I’ve had the flan of Jerusalem artichokes as an antipasti, captivated by its unique combination of flavors. Encircled by roasted red peppers, a delicate salsa verde adds color and flavor, rendering it as beautiful to the eye as it is to the tongue.

Got a taste for the exotic? Try the grilled prawns and snails wrapped in Italian bacon and served with asparagus salad and raspberry vinaigrette as another good antipasti choice. Waiting for the flaws to arrive that often accompany fine dining in Prague, I’m pleased to say that the extraordinarily high level of culinary excellence continued on into the entree selections. Having tried the seared yellow fin tuna (served with wild fennel and parma ham, eggplant caviar and tomato comfit., I decided to try the Allegro steak.

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About the the Tuna, if I could make one suggestion it would be to have a little bit more of the parma ham (which was exquisite) and works magnificently. And the steak! Glazed with marsala wine, topped with pan-fried duck foie gras and served with spinach and potato galette, I was in heaven.

There are several quality places to get a good steak in Prague, but not many can match such an excellent cut of beef topped with a foie gras that is so rich it drips with succulence. There is also an extensive wine list, of wines from all over the world, starting around 850Kc for a bottle. And although there is no sommelier, the staff was quite knowledgeable about the selections and very willing to serve wine at the temperatures requested. The best I’ve tried were from Argentina and South Africa and the Sicilian red was interesting as well, well worth checking out.

The service is solicitous without being wooden or cold (a common problem in Prague’s top restaurants) and the restaurant is clearly out to please. Recently I ate at Allegro as a party of eight and we were brought two complimentary items from the chef: a delicious small bowl of corn soup that prefaced the meal and a slight dish of Creme Brule that closed it. Neither was on the menu and both were delicious.Set in a stately dining room the decoration is conservative without feeling stuffy, opulent but serious.

With a river-level view of the Charles Bridge and Castle lit up spectacularly at night there is no better place to feel the magic of Prague than at the window of Allegro. If you feel the presence of ghosts walking along the shady banks of the river keep in mind that this location was not always the home of such a reputable guest: Rumor has it that the building was empty for many years due to local superstition of it being the home of the town executioner many years ago. But the devil himself shouldn’t keep those that crave a truly sublime dining experience from experience the best restaurant in town.

Allegro Restaurant, Veleslavínova 2a/1098, Prague 1-Old Town, Czech Republic 110 00 Tel. +420 221 427 000 Fax. +420 221 426 000 (inside the Four Seasons hotel) Tel. 221 427 000 Open daily 6:30 a.m.-midnight AmEx, Euro/MC, Visa Around 2,000 Kc

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