Monday, July 30, 2007

Bredovský dvůr

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

-Ogden Nash

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.

Bredovský dvůr
Politických vězňů 13
Prague 1

Tel. (+420)224 215 428

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice blog and well thought out comments. I used to love Bredovsky Dvur but had a horrific service experience there about a year ago. I don't even remember the details but it had to do with the waiter not knowing how to differtiate a credit card from a debit card and use the machine correctly and becoming abusive when I insisted the card didn't require a pin. The manager intervened, sorted the problem out and then became verbally abusive to us. bizarre. (and I should mention that I'm not a particularly bad guest - I have worked in many restauarants and was one of the owners of Picante - so I havea great deal of sympathy for anything but outright rudeness) . Anyway, I wrote the management/owners a letter and never received a response. That was it for me. Haven't been back since.

Brewsta said...

Love to know what happened to Picante

Pingrid said...

Interesting review, Brewsta. I haven't been to Bredovsky, but I have always considered it. I'll think I will stay with U Pinkasu (Like Hrabal btw).

I was back in Prague a month ago, and I happen to go at Pilskny Andel again. I had to go to the shopping mall not far from because to do some shopping because we have lost our luggage. Anyway; This is also a Tanknova pub/restaurant. It wasn't that great. The koblasa sausage was a bit dry and service quite slow.

During the weekend I tried a lot of good beer halls which I have'nt tried before. U Sumavy was very great: Great Budweiser.I visited this pub on the recomendation from one of the commenter's on this forum. Thanks!

I also visited Richters Brewery (Microbrewery) at Bulovka: delicious pilsner style brew.

In the evenings we visited great restaurants on your recommendation's: Kogo at the Slovansky Dum. Very great! I tried the Tuna Carpacio. I liked it! In fact we all liked so much that the females in the group had lunch here twice during our weekend.

We also visited the cuban restaurant in Kaprova. I have been here before, and the food was splendid. But the service was really bad. We were given a table at upper level. It was very hot, and when we said it to the waitress, she refused to give us another table. Of course we should just have left, but we Scandinavians are a bit shy when we are not drunk, so we stayed, and the high temprature ruined our dinner. Next time I will order a table at the basement ...

Brewsta said...

Thanks for the interesting information, Pingrid. I need to try a few of those places myself.

At La Bodeguita del Medio, I sometimes eat at the bar when I am alone and can find a stool. Good for people watching. But if I ever go with anyone else, I always go downstairs.

I got a comment once that my recommendation of the seafood risotto at Kogo helped end a husband/wife argument. They said they enjoyed it so much, they stopped fighting and talked about the food. I couldn't make up something like that...

Mark said...

Seems like service is a never-ending theme on the comments to this blog ...

And the complaints are almost always the same -- had to wait too long for service, was ignored by the server, couldn't get the server's attention, got into some kind of argument with the server.

Let's just admit it. Prague's got a big problem with service.

Brewsta said...

Based on what I am hearing, Bredovsky dvur is a poster child for bad service.

I talked to V after I wrote this post, and she went on a tirade about the service there.

She said they attitude she feels there is, "You are lucky to be here, so I'll do whatever I feel like."

She said that even though she is often nearby, she usually refuses to go. The last visit was an exception.

Pip Hines said...

Well, we tried Bredovsky Dvur this Monday lunchtime and it suited us just fine. Service was business-like and rapid (isn't this often true between 12 and 1, when it's clear that customers are on their break?), and the food was classic in the best sense: succulent madarsky gulas, crisp bramboracky - and that beer is evn better than U Pinkasu: crisp, clear, irresistible.
Maybe they read your blog and they're trying harder?

Brewsta said...

It would be nice to think so.

Anonymous said...

Hello guys,

We were at Bredovsky dur yesterday (July 18) and had to leave. Horrible service and also strange mix in customers. I would assume that the restaurant is now mentioned in an Asian guide as the place is now filled with Japanese and other Orfientals eating and photographing the food and themselves. I don't recommend this kind of Disneyland experience to anyone. STAY AWAY!

Anonymous said...

Hello,

We also had a terrible experience with the service at Bredovsky dvur. The waiter tried to take 90 kc tip thinking we wouldnt notice it. When i called him back to the table, he didnt apologize but got angry and told us :"This is the last time you are coming here". I wrote a letter to the manager and didnt got any response. I am now thinking about reporting it to the police..

Anonymous said...

Hi,

i was there just yesterday. Beer was good, waiter was ok, but "Plzensky" Gulash was terrible.
It's not first time food was bad there, but this time it had only one taste: pepper. Next time i'll choose some restaurant at Vinohradska street.