Sunday, January 22, 2012

Der Tschechische Republik: Knödel mit Musik

There are multiple Czech restaurants in Berlin, but in my search I came across this video of Restaurant Böhmerland and was instantly sold. Nevermind that it's in Spandau, a good 45-minute U-bahn ride from us, there would be no other Czech meal for me. Once I heard the charming Czech accent of the jolly owner/waiter, Vojtech Novak, saw the pictures of the roast goose with Bohemian dumplings (only available at Christmastime - alas), heard the Czech folk music played by the same adorable owner....I was out the door and hungry for a hearty Czech meal. Actually, making and hand-decorating literally thousands of Christmas cookies kept me quite busy and I missed out on the goose. But yesterday, despite the cold and drizzle, I finally managed to drag mein Mann to Spandau. (It helped that the restaurant is located a very short walk from the Spandau Citadel, an old fort today housing (among other things) a museum with all kinds of old weapony things.) Actually, the Citadel is worth a trip (in summer, it might be too warm for Czech food, in which case it would be a great picnic spot.) In any case, we braved the weather, bought a 14€ painting of the Dolomites at a junk fair we stumbled upon, spent a few hours at the Citadel, and had an early dinner at Böhmerland.

The restaurant isn't all that much to look at. It's not very big and the simple decor is rather dated. I had worried that the adorableness of the owner/waiter might have just been for the video, but I am pleased to report that he seems to be just as adorable every day. He bounds around the room - pouring shots of Becherova, telling jokes, proclaiming the deliciousness of Czech cuisine, and finally playing his guitar and singing old Czech songs. The dining room is quite small, so he is practically sitting at your table when he sings. And the food: it's very good. I don't know that I would stray too far from the classics, but the roast pork with sauerkraut and Bohemian dumplings was excellent. Böhmerland is known for these dumplings and they are as promised, fluffy and perfect for soaking up the brown meat sauce. This was my first interaction with this variety of dumplings and they taste surprisingly exactly like the dough in a steamed Chinese bao, which is to say that they taste exactly like steamed white bread. At the end of the day, I prefer bread dumplings (Semmelknödel), but I appreciate that someone in Berlin is making them and doing a topnotch job at that. The portions at Böhmerland are more than plentiful. The roast pork was easily enough for two (we split that and a salad (not particularly remarkable, but quite decent if you overlook the iceberg lettuce). Böhmerland serves Konrad pilsner and dark beer from the Czech Republic (plus a few German beers and several Czech wines). Mein Mann is a real snob when it comes to how a beer is poured and he gave this place two thumbs up, both for the pouring and the beer itself. I can't imagine ever being able to eat dessert after even half an order of pork roast and dumplings, but I imagine that the fruit-filled dessert dumplings and palacinka (Czech crepes) are delicious, too.

Hoher Steinweg 5

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