The pig, if I am not mistaken
Gives us ham and pork and bacon
Let others think his heart is big
I think it stupid of the pig
You are standing at the top of Wenceslas Square. Your top priority is high quality beer. A decent Czech meal is a requirement, but it comes a distant second.
One more detail. You can't be bothered to walk more than five minutes in any direction.
What will you do?
I, myself, faced this dilemma recently and ran through some options with my dining companions.
I knew that a Pilsner Urquell Original Restaurant was opening in the historic Deminka space on the corner of Škrétova and Anglická.
It still has the Deminka name. And the place now has the same interior style and signage as the Kolkovna Group restaurants, like Kolkovna, Olympia, and Celnice. Given their track record, I'd bet they'll finally make a success out of this long-doomed location.
But this is a story for another time. My friends, V and I were on the hunt for a place to eat several days before the new Deminka opened its doors.
Ferdinanda is a good option, with their own special-brewed 11, 12, and 13 degree beers. But we had just been there recently.
U Pinkasu? Good, but too far. An arduous seven to nine minute walk, depending on the foot traffic. I haven't always enjoyed my food there, either.
In the end, we picked Bredovský dvůr (Breda's Court), one block over from Wenceslas Square. This is a very popular place, with mostly Czech customers, I'd say. It's also why I don't go so often. The restaurant is usually full at prime times.
Bredovský dvůr has a stylish interior, with exposed brick traveling up the walls and continuing to form the arched ceiling. Framed football jerseys hang on the walls. The lighting has an artistic flair.
The same style continues over at the small, narrow bar area, which you have to pass on the way to the rear dining room. There are only a few stools, so it is not the best place for a group to hang out and drink.But the green glow behind the bar is really what the place is all about. Bredovský dvůr is a tankovna, or tank pub. Behind the bar, they have fresh, unpasteurized Pilsner Urquell.The restaurant's website says (in Czech) that "the Pilsner only travels 3 meters between tank and tap (true beer aficionados know what that means)" and then "Thanks to its unique tap system, the beer never comes into contact with air, oxygen, or any other gas, preserving its exceptional taste."
Yes, this is very good beer. They sell it for 32 CZK. I realized how much I love a fresh Pilsner Urquell after a number of trips back to the United States. Every beer I drank, even special microbrews lacked serious character and tasted totally bland in comparison. I missed that bitter kick. Even the Pilsner Urquell I had on tap in Manhattan was flat, stale, and not cold enough.
Only the real deal will do for me now.
I do dream about food, but Czech cuisine is not the food of my dreams. That said, I do enjoy it from time to time. A popular Czech specialty is pork knee (pečené vepřové koleno s kostí). V ordered one for 185 CZK.
It comes on a metal spit, held up by wrought iron over a cutting board. There is mustard, horse radish, and cold sauerkraut. V liked it. There was a lot of good meat on it. The pork was tender and juicy. Sometimes koleno can be extremely fatty, but this one was fine, meaning moderately fatty.
She also ordered something that was basically fried potato pancake batter (bramborové strapačky) for 85 CZK.They were sort of like fried potato pancake fingers and came with warm, sweet red and white cabbage. V thought they would be more a traditional Czech style and didn't like them so much. But I have a weakness for anything fried into finger shapes. I thought they were well-seasoned and tasty. I loved the sweet cabbage.
The restaurant's menu is available on line and has both Czech and English.
A-man got the pork ribs (Pečená vepřová žebírka v medu), also for 185 CZK. They had a honey glaze, which gave them a slightly sweet-salty exterior. They came with the same condiments as the koleno. A-man said he liked them a lot because the big ribs still had pork skin and a fair amount of fat left on them. Others may have different tastes. I had a non-fatty piece, and it was good.
A-man and V both got bread which cost 16 CZK. A glass of white wine was 50 CZK. Tartar sauce was 30 CZK.
At this point, I'll mention the service. Slow, like usual. This is another crowd-related issue that keeps me from coming too regularly.
It took a while before our waitress came over. She got our drinks, then disappeared. Literally. At a certain point, I saw her walking out the front door. Her shift was over. Not even a wave goodbye.
Eventually, a waiter with a few too many tables took over our table and the meal continued.
On balance, despite a few problems, helped by low expectations regarding service, we were reasonably satisfied.
I went back another time with some friends, and we sat in the outdoor section in the courtyard. This is almost always full, as well, and we were lucky a table opened just as we were about to give up.
There are some interesting people watching opportunities, with a glitzy beauty salon and cafe-bar across the courtyard. Women with aluminum foil in their hair sit at small table sipping drinks.
On this day, I was with two people who felt the need to order, shall we say, outside the box. Mr. B got the salmon for 185 CZK. It came with a mixture of pineapple, bacon, and onions. He said that this was the best part. The fish itself was.. Fishy. Not so good. He had rice on the side for 30 CZK.Mr. S ordered the fusilli pasta with chicken for 125 CZK. The menu says it has peas, carrots, leaks, ginger, soy sauce, and vermouth.
I asked him a few days later what he thought of the dish, since I forgot to ask him on the spot. He said it was "unmemorable." A fair and true assessment. He couldn't remember anything about it. Not something I would order.
A Slovak colleague heard me talking about this restaurant, and she told me she was very disappointed with their treatment of the Slovak national dish, halušky (125 CZK).
She explained that the little flour and potato dumplings, similar to Italian gnocchi, were the wrong shape, the Bryndza cheese did not taste right, and the pieces of bacon were too big and not cooked enough.
So, do not judge all halušky by this halušky. It is apparently something close to an insult to the Slovak nation.
My feeling on Bredovský dvůr is that the beer is worth the wait if you can walk in and get a table. And if you are hungry, be smart and get the stupid pig.
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