Leporelo: simple, subtle and stunning
Eventually I will get to a top ten lists of Brno restaurants. Suffice it to say that when I get to it, Leporelo will be near the top of the list. Leporelo was one of my earlier finds in Brno, and it continues to impress.
Sitting down to write this review, I kept thinking of simple sophistication. I’m not sure if that makes any sense from a linguistic standpoint, but it definitely illustrates how I feel about Leporelo. This restaurant takes the restaurant experience and strips it down to its simplest, perfect, essence. No elaborate trappings, no exaggerated dishes, just flawlessly prepared, interesting food.
One of my favorite aspects of Leporelo is their constant work pushing the envelope. They are perpetually offering unique menus and don’t stick to tried and true (boring?) regular favorites. I have experienced Insect Week around Halloween, the Aphrodisiac Menu around Valentines Day, and other one-off menus the last few years.
My friend and I went there a couple of weeks ago and, to our pleasant surprise, they had a vegetarian menu (though they did offer a chicken option). Both of us were in the mood for a light meal. In truth, I think the menu matches the mood there perfectly. The space is bright and airy. They have some interesting art and ambiance (after all, they are in the House of Arts). I adore the space there. Something about it puts me in a cheerful mood.
But with my high expectations, can their pared down vegetarian menu live up to our hopes? In short, they did.
We started with a tomato carpaccio. Despite its simplistic approach, it was the perfect way to start off a dinner. Executed flawlessly, perfectly seasoned, we ate it voraciously. We decided to try both soups (despite neither of us being big mushroom fans) and were glad we did. The wild mushroom soup was the highlight of our night.
On a tangent, I should note that I love Leporelo’s dinnerware. The bowls for the soup were unique and we were mesmerized by their glasses (glasses with a pointed base are a first for me). This may not be that important, but it shows how much thought and effort goes into their concept.
Back to the soup. I don’t particularly like the texture and overpowering flavor of mushrooms. I use them all the time and even order/prepare dishes where mushrooms are the focal point. It’s not something, however, I prefer to do. This mushroom soup changed my mind. The slimey texture was nonexistant and the flavor of the dish was multi-layered. Despite being a mushroom soup, you can taste the vegetable base and other flavors in the soup.
We followed that up with the pumpkin spetzle and cilantro-lime chicken. The only chink in Leporelo’s armor was the chicken (I guess we should have gone full vegetarian for the meal). While I value simplicity and subtlety (that’s what I’ve been raving about in this review), the chicken was too bland. Baked chicken breast needs some flavour to help it stand out.
On the other hand, the spetzle was another home run. Spetzle and halušky tend to be mushy piles of goo. Not at Leporelo. The spetzle were perfectly finished in a pan with butter. The pumpkin and seasoning were paired fantastically.
Leporelo is my favorite recommendation in Brno. Whether you are looking for a good date spot, family gathering or business meeting, the location fits the bill without breaking the bank. I can’t imagine ever feeling let down there.