Brno is the second city in the Czech Republic, but it is not favourably viewed by the people of Prague. The day after we booked our train tickets and airbnb, I was teaching my students some language for making suggestions. “Let’s practise,” I told them. “I’m going to Brno at the weekend, give me some suggestions.” They all exhaled loudly and exchanged bleak looks.
“I suggest staying in Prague.”
“How about visiting a more exciting city?”
Flawless use of the target language, but demoralising nevertheless. I think their negativity was unwarranted, and probably largely due to a “friendly” rivalry between Bohemia and Moravia. I really liked Brno! It was small, but it was a lovely place to wander around for a weekend. Granted, it’s not a place I’ll really need to return to. But well worth a visit when I’m in the Czech Republic for such a long time. And definitely worth a visit for the food! Unfortunately, a lot of eateries in the Czech Republic tend to close at the weekend, or at least on Sundays, which often scuppers of our plans. I had to do quite a bit of research to find places willing to feed us.
For most of Saturday we had provided our own fuel, with a very early breakfast and a picnic while we were out in the Moravian countryside. We returned to the city tired and ready for some hearty food, which is exactly what we got at Junk Food Cafe. (UPDATE: Junk Food Cafe closed in December 2016)
It was a lovely place! It had board games, which is always a sign of quality in my opinion, lots of non-smoking seating (ditto), and ceiling-to-floor windows, which make everything so light. And it was really spacious, and our waitress was just lovely. It used to be vegetarian, but has now changed so it’s 100% vegan. However, the only English menu is from the old vegetarian days, so we needed a bit of help cross-referencing the updated Czech menu with the old one we could understand, and the waitress couldn’t have been more helpful. We started off with a couple of milkshakes, going for the full junk food experience. They were raspberry shakes made with almond milk, and they were good! Alcohol is also served, so I had a nice glass of wine to finish the meal later.
We started with a plate of onion rings, that great vegan rarity. I had some in Glasgow that we still reminisce about frequently, and don’t think any have popped up on a menu since then. They were plentiful, and they were delicious. The batter was fantastic, and there was a good, spicy sweet chilli dip.
Dr HH had the broccoli burger. It had a good crunchy exterior, but he reported that it was a pretty standard veggie burger besides that.
When he had a bit of my tempeh burger, he declared, “Now that’s a burger!” And indeed, it was. It was also crispy on the outside, and it was really substantial and smoky. The bun was toasted, which is always a bonus, and there were, as you can see, millions of chips. We probably wouldn’t have ordered those onion rings had we known! It was a struggle to finish everything, as delicious as it all was, and unsurprisingly we didn’t have dessert.
The next morning we didn’t need much breakfast, so we dined fairly lightly at the Tri Ocasci buffet. And before we headed home on Sunday afternoon, we managed to find somewhere that was open and had a vegan option: Fresh Freaks. This is a gluten free bistro that is bright, airy and had a really nice atmosphere. It was very quiet on Sunday, despite being one of the few eateries open. It serves meat, and marks the vegetarian and vegan options on the menu. The online menu said there would be a vegan hummus wrap and a vegan quiche – the latter is what I was going for. However, the real menu just said to check what options there were on the day, and there was no vegan quiche on a Sunday apparently. Fortunately, there is a separate menu for daily specials (this is a very Czech thing, most places do it), and there is one vegan option every day.
The daily special was a soup and a main. I started with the vegetable soup, which was tasty.
This was followed by the pumpkin and pea curry, which I really enjoyed. The curry itself was creamy, but there were delicious crunchy chickpeas for texture. I really enjoyed it!
I also managed to get a chocolate, date, banana and soy milk shake, which was lovely and was served in a glass bottle, which makes everything taste better.
And to finish, we asked if there were any vegan desserts. There was only one, and it was this apple pie. The fruit filling was so light and refreshing, and the cinnamon dusting on top was beautiful. The pastry was good, but if only it had covered the top too – never skimp on pastry!
So in conclusion, Brno was worth a visit, and I should never listen to my students.
I’m on my travels again this week, just about to board a train to Vienna. This makes it a good time to check out my Facebook page for photos of all the good food I eat during the holiday. There will be cupcakes!