Sunday, 27 February 2011
Bearing all just outside of Prague
This august establishment, in Klokocna, a village about 30 minutes drive south east of Prague has quite a reputation. But be warned, its a firm favourite with the locals and they travel for miles ( I should say kilometres ) to try the tasty fare of the Sapikova family, so booking is essential.
I have to say that the immediate countryside around Prague suffers from a dearth of restaurants worth driving to. I am usually so disappointed with what is put on their tables, they don't even get review space; yet alone any praise. The Sapikova establishment interested me for two reasons; firstly the head of the family has apparently cooked at Prague Castle for some of the great and the good and secondly, for a week or so in February, bear was on the menu. Yes, that's right bear.
Now in England, I suspect that even if you could get the bear past the Health and Safety gestapo squad, you would end up being picketed and having your windows smashed by some animal rights campaigners. Which is why I cannot remember AA Gill or Michael Winner writing about bear enhanced menus. Well guys, this was my big chance to pull off a review "coup" and write about the eating the brutes.
A couple of my colleagues went for bear soup, which looked pretty boring, but they pronounced themselves satisfied.
I went for the full monty of Bear a la Russe; bear Russian style, which seemed to be accompanied by some pretty Czech looking dumplings. As you can imagine, old bruin is a pretty tough beast to render into a state in which the human can chew and digest it. Sapikova's solution is the pretty obvious one of slow cooking and then, smothering it with a rich sauce to, how shall I put this correctly, take the bearishness away.
Well they pulled it off - just. I could have been eating the poorest cut of beef, horse, aged venison or possibly even ostrich. It had a gamey tang, but the rich brown sauce and my hunger, made it edible. Would I recommend to the ladies - definitely not and one certainly needs to be a lover of well hung game to derive any pleasure at all from the dish ( leaving aside the ethical considerations, which others are far better equipped than I, to comment on. )
A robust looking chef, whom I assume was the leading light of the Sapikova family, rolled into the main dining room as we were halfway through our meal. I assumed he would work the room and at least, enquire how bruin was going down. Not a bit of it; he sat own at a table with some of his mates in the corner and apart from a couple of shifty looks around the room, I assume to check that none of the great and the good had strayed from Prague Castle to visit him, was completely anti-social.
So no picture of Night Rider being embraced by a fat chef; perhaps just as well as after the rather rich bruin, a bear hug might have had undesired results.
Worth a visit again ? The jury is still out.