"Wealth is not his that has it, but his that enjoys it." Benjamin FranklinI needed a change of scenery. A friend felt the same and offered to take me to lunch at Chateau Mcely.
I'd heard some good things about this hotel and spa opened in 2006 by Inéz Cusumano and her husband James, a former energy company executive. The menu of the Piano Nobile Restaurant looked pricey but tempting.
Since someone else was paying, why not? We hopped in the car and made the hour drive out to the small town of Mcely.
Coming through the electric gates, you catch your first glimpse of the stately, reconstructed manor at the end of a well-kept lawn.Passing through the front door and under the custom-designed iron work, you begin to feel the attention to detail that has gone into restoring this building.We were led into small dining room, which was empty following a wedding party.The heavily draped room had what appeared to be original parquet flooring, but just about everything else looked new.Almost too new.
Our waitress brought a bread basket. It was very ordinary stuff, with cold butter.I'm too often surprised that high-end restaurants invest so much in their cooking and the first impression they make is with boring bread and a hard spread.
For a starter, I had the hot foie gras served with Rémy Martin granité, homemade marmalade, toasted butter bread and veal jus (490 CZK).Each small bite of the rich, delicate goose liver melted in my mouth with buttery flavor. It was perfect.
The granité was a cool and interesting palate cleanser. The sweet veal jus provided a nice base and it was nice to mop it up with the brioche-like bread. I thought the acidic "marmalade" also provided a nice acidic contrast to the smooth foie gras. The menu said it was made with fruit, but the consistency and flavor tasted more like red cabbage to me. Either way, I liked it.
My friend had the "homemade ravioli stuffed with tiger prawns." (490 CZK).The menu needs a small correction. Ravioli is plural. This was one medium-sized raviolo.
It contained chunks of a shrimp and sat on top of a sweet and sour sauce made with fresh garden basil. We both found the dish too small and simple.
Enya songs played over the sound system.I saw that the spa area of the hotel has a nice-looking massage room, which is where I most often hear this relaxation-inducing music. It's not my favorite outside that context.
For my main course, I had the lamb chops baked with herbs (690 CZK). It was served with a dandelion-potato purée with mascarpone and thyme.The small but thick chops were tender and delicious. The honey-sweet and tart sauce had the complementary flavor of rosemary.
The lamb was barely warm, while the potatoes where piping hot. Even though the chops were served medium-rare as requested, there should have been more heat in the meat.
My friend had the fillet of pollock made according to Grandmother Cusumano's recipe (590 CZK).It came with roasted potatoes, capers, homemade dried tomatoes. There was a light white wine sauce. The fish was fresh and light, the vegetables well-executed, and the sauce sauce fine.
I liked it more than my friend did, but overall, the dish didn't greatly impress either of us.
For dessert, I had the chocolate fondant with raspberry and cream, and a glazed chocolate wafer (390 CZK).The chocolate was super intense and I enjoyed it very much.
My friend had the plateau of French cheeses with homemade marmalade (390 CZK). I can tell you that we greatly enjoyed these cheeses and especially the marmalade made with plums, onion, and wine.
I can't tell you too much more. When I asked our friendly waitress to describe the cheeses, I was rather amused by the response:
"That one is cow, that one is goat. The one over there is cow," she pointed out.
"Could you be more specific?"
"I'm sorry, I don't know," she replied with an embarrassed smile.
"Could you find out?"
She returned a few minutes later with the flags that had been on the cheeses in the kitchen and haltingly read the names and pointed out which was which. I gave up learning more about these. The service started out OK, but faded by the end of the meal.
We had a cappuccino and a cafe latte (85 CZK/each).We didn't drink alcohol so we also had two .33 liter bottles of water (50 CZK/each).
The three course lunch menu is 990 CZK per person. But many of the better dishes have 100 CZK supplements. We had 500 CZK in supplemental charges. That comes to 2750 CZK before tip. If we'd been drinking wine or cocktails, the final tab would be closer to 4000 CZK.
After lunch, we took a stroll around the manicured grounds. The house stands on a hill above the surrounding farm land.There is a very nice patio for outdoor dining in good weather.It would certainly be a nice place for a posh party.
A walk around the property only takes about 15 minutes. The most interesting part was the pool with lily pads growing in it.As we walked, we talked. Was Chateau Mcely worth the trip? The food was quite nice, with the foie gras the stand out dish, but we didn't feel it justified the big bill at the end.
We felt like pretenders on a playground of the super rich. We had initially thought about staying over for a night, but with weekend room prices in "Castle Season" starting at 246 euros, not to mention the cost of spa treatments, it was beyond what I'm comfortable spending.
I usually avoid thinking in terms of other currencies, but I succumbed to the temptation in this case out of curiosity. For example, the shrimp raviolo starter worked out to more than $25 or 20 euros.
If the prices don't sound high to you, and you need a quiet place to decompress, I'd say go for it. I did read a lot of happy comments in their guest book.
As for me, I'm far from poor, but I'm just not that wealthy.
289 36 Mcely
Tel. (+420) 325 600 000