On Wednesday 20th of February, Michal Sänger – a well-know Czech food blogger – joined our InformAL meeting Brno Culinary as one of the three invited speakers. Here is his short account of the evening as well as some culinary recommendations listed exclusively for the visitors and fans of the BEC website:
I had been invited to speak at an event organized by the Brno Expat Centre for foreigners living in Brno. This meant that I was not only expected to express my thoughts out loud, but to express them in English! The topic was Czech gastronomy and apart from me there were two more speakers: The owner of the restaurant Il Mercato Riccardo Lucque and Jan Kaplan from the restaurant Pavillon. I was nicely surprised by both the number of visitors as well as the number and variety of questions I was asked during the discussions. Whereas Riccardo – as a foreigner – was talking about what brought him to the Czech Republic and how to run one of the best Italian restaurants, Jan tried to list the main characteristic traits of the Czech cuisine which is prepared and served in a new modern way in Pavillon. In my bit, I tried to describe what it is like to write reviews of restaurants and recommend those I find interesting.
After the initial talks and the discussion, Jan, Riccardo and I stayed at the bar ready (and happy) to answer any further questions. Among the most frequent ones I was asked were such as ´where to find good Czech classic´, ´which places I would recommend to visit´ and – of course – I was also addressed one of the typical questions ´how come I do what i do and am not double of my current weight´. 🙂
What I found out was that the public is rather well familiar with the best local restaurants, but that the most sought-after are still the restaurants where one can eat well for a reasonable price as the top places are mainly visited on special occasions. In the center of Brno I recommended Stopkova, Bistro Franz as well as a newly opened restaurant and steakehouse Monte Bú proud of its dry-aged beef. Nearby Villa Tugendhat, I suggested an excellent place Café Era, Betlém and another novelty Tomato Fresh Restaurant. I also tried to point out the increasing number of non-smoking pubs drawing beer from small breweries – I personally often go to Pivárium, Hluchá zmije, Zubatá žába or Na Božence.
I was also asked how to recognize a good restaurant. Although it is – of course – impossible to be absolutely sure, it helps if one is paying attention to details such as menu changing according to the season of the year (for example everybody – and a chef in the first place – should now that it is impossible to buy a tasty tomato in the winter) or due to the fact that the restaurant makes public the name of their chef. Apart from one´s own testing/tasting food yourselves, the ideal way is to follow reviews such as Scuk.cz (in my opinion, the best of its kind in the Czech Republic).
Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic and it therefore also represents the second largest demand concerning quality gastronomy which is – step by step – starting to get satisfied. As for those who still are not satisfied, I recommend they leave Brno and maybe start discovering Vienna. After all, Czech and Austrian cuisine are – thanks to our historical background – rather similar.
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