Friday, February 29, 2008

Brabander: The Art of Culinary - Brno (Closed)

** This restaurant has closed.

"A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman's birthday but never remembers her age." Robert Frost
V's mother, who lives in Brno, had a birthday. We decided to take her out for a nice Sunday lunch.

Our first thought was to go to Brabander: Living Restaurant. It is one of our favorites in the Czech Republic's second city. I wrote a post about that place a few months back.

However, we'd taken her there before and decided to try something different. But not too different. And we wanted to be sure it would be good.

So, we went to Brabander: The Art of Culinary. This second, oddly named Brabander, has a similar cuisine to the first, and yet nothing on the menu is the same.

I should note that the Internet menu was not up to date when I wrote this.

We entered the bar area off the street. No one was there to greet us, so we walked up the stairs. We passed a deck that would be great for outdoor dining in the warm weather.

Sun was shining into the main dining room, giving it a much different feeling than subterranean sister restaurant.The meal started with an amuse bouche. It was light, creamy duck liver pate on a nut wafer.For a starter, Maminka had beef carpaccio (165 CZK). It was a decent, basic version.It came with rucola leaves, shaved Parmesan, olive oil, and lemon and lime wedges.

L had the goat cheese pyramid (165 CZK). The name pretty much says it all.It was light and creamy, but fairly ordinary. On the side were a few mache leaves and red peppercorns.

V had the scallops (219 CZK). There were two, sitting in a shell with melted butter. They were large and perfectly seared.V didn't want all the butter, so I soaked it up with bread. The butter had a great scallop flavor.

An interesting note here: The menu originally said there was one scallop. The "one" was crossed out, and "two" was written in its place. They had a similar dish at the other Brabander, but it was only one scallop and went for 145 CZK.

I had a grilled goat cheese salad. The waiter thoughtfully asked if I wanted a smaller, starter portion (97 CZK). The goat cheese, with a crsip, browned surface, was warm and light.It sat on spinach leaves, which didn't have the snappy freshness I was hoping for. There was a dressing made with very sour cherries. I thought it was a nice contrast, but V thought it was a bit too sour.

The service was super solicitous and ostentatiously polite. Some people like that. Some people don't. I prefer slightly more ordinary human interaction, but I didn't mind so much. V prefers service with a little less, shall we say, personality.

For the main courses, Maminka had the best dish of the lunch: lamb tenderloin (380 CZK). It came with a plum sauce, roasted potatoes, and shaved Parmesan.It was the best lamb I've had since a memorable meal in 1994. The four large pieces meat were cooked perfectly rare, and they were almost impossibly tender.

The potatoes went well with them. The sweet plum sauce was one-dimensional, though, with a strong prune flavor. They could have done better with that.

V had a seared tuna salad (180 CZK). The tuna was cooked correctly (something we often have trouble with in the Czech Republic).The salad, with a variety of lettuce leaves, had a basic dressing and there wasn't much seasoning on the tuna.

V really enjoyed it, and I thought it was pretty good. But I liked all the other main courses better.

L had the pork tenderloin (239 CZK). It was cooked close to medium (I don't mind pink pork), and was also incredibly tender.The meat was larded with chunks of smokey pork fat and pancetta (I think), which added to the flavor.

The dish came with a wonderful mushroom cream sauce, a little tower of couscous (which I didn't taste), and some roasted baby tomatoes.

I had the butterfish (249 CZK). The square cut of fresh fish was cooked with a beautiful, golden crust and yet remained moist and flaky throughout.It came with a lime, coconut cream sauce that was a great complement. On the side, there was nori-wrapped sticky rice. I cleaned the plate.

We all ordered dessert.

V ordered the strawberry "caprese" with mint, vanilla mozzarella, and vanilla balsamic syrup (119 CZK). It was... interesting.The strawberries and syrup were nice. The sweetened cheese did have a good vanilla flavor, but the gelatin-like texture was a little too odd for me.

L got the cheese cake (125 CZK). It was moist and creamy -- a fine housemade version.On top was a lime gelatin. Many Czech cakes are made with gelatin on top, and many people enjoy it. I really don't like it, myself.

The birthday girl had the crêpe Suzette (129 CZK). It was a tasty but small folded crêpe, with plenty of Grand Marnier.It was prepared in the kitchen, so we did not witness it being flambéed. She liked it very much, but I do wish it was a little more substantial.

I had the nougat and chocolate dessert (149 CZK). The nougat had a sticky, almost curd-like texture, and it was intensely sweet.The English-language menu said it came covered in chocolate. But it didn't say that it was a sweet and crunchy shell, flavored with white chocolate. Not bad, but there was no love.

We had a variety of drinks. It should be noted that wine by the glass prices are listed on the menu, but in the amount of .1 liter, whereas the waiter pours .2 liter glasses. So double the prices you see listed.

Overall, it was an enjoyable meal. I'd certainly recommend this restaurant.

I just want to say something here about the quality and the prices.

Many of the dishes at this restaurant are as good or better than I might find at fine dining establishments in Prague. And I'd say the prices are easily half what they'd cost in Prague -- even the lamb.

The bill for the four of us was reasonable, considering all we ate and drank.

But because the meal was part of birthday gift, I don't want to publish the total amount I paid.

That would be undiplomatic.

Brabander: The Art of Cullinary
Pekařská 4
Brno, Czech Republic
Tel. (+420) 543 215 250

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Grant Podelco said...

Sounds like a lovely restaurant, and a bargain, at that, but that Goat Cheese Pyramid looks suspiciously like the shape of the goat cheese containers you buy at the grocery store!

Matej Stolfa said...

Vypada ze tady je nekdo opravu gurman...
Pokud hledate dobrou restauraci kdekoliv na svete jdete na

Anonymous said...

"Pokud hledate dobrou restauraci kdekoliv na svete jdete na"

Ale v Brně nic tam není!