Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Czech and Slovak House

The house, on a residential stretch of road in West Hampstead, is advertised by a plastic chef outside and a wooden post from which a sign must have once hung. Inside, it feels like a slightly ramshackle hostel, and indeed I think they do let out some rooms to their compatriots. There's a bar and a casual room for eating or drinking, but we were ushered into the restaurant - reminiscent of a living room circa 1970s, with faded wall paper, a portrait of a grim looking officer and another of Havel, and white table cloths.

I wasn't very hungry, so settled on some fried bread with garlic & cheese (a mere 1.50). It might have been nicer with melted cheese, but it packed a strong garlicky punch and went well with the beer.

The fried goose liver with onion & bread (by far the most expensive starter at 7.00) was, to my disappointment, closer to the traditional English dish of liver and onions than to the French foie gras. But its order pronounced it very good.

The others went for roasted wild boar in cream sauce (11), one with saute potatoes and one with sauerkraut. The portions were huge, and the boar's sauce was surprisingly though pleasantly cheesy. The meat though was perhaps a touch tough.
I liked the fact that with each main one side dish of your choice was included - too often I've dithered over the dilemma of the more appealing main versus the one with the more appealing side dish.
On a Sunday afternoon, the place was reasonably busy with people (both Eastern European and English) finishing lunch, starting dinner, or simply having a few beers. The dark Bernard was delicious and cheap by London standards at only 3 quid per half-litre bottle.
The service was friendly, and they were more than happy for us to linger over beers and a game of cards even as the main dinner crowds starter to arrive.

Czech and Slovak House, 74 West End Lane, NW6 2LX; Tel. 0207 372 1193; Tube: West Hampstead; www.czechoslovak-restaurant.co.uk

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