When you get eight hungry people together for dinner, you get a lot of photos and lot of food. Bear with me. Thanks to an introduction through Anne of City Spoonful, our group was treated to a thoughtful curating of the dishes by Judith of Fooditka, who hails from the country of Slovakia and can call this home cooking. 14 plates later, we all had smiles on our faces.
As our 7:30pm reservation sat down at the table and came in one by one, Wheel of Fortune played on the television and the dining room was mainly empty on this Wednesday. We would give the kitchen a workout on our own anyways.
The environment here is one of simple countryside comfort. The wood bar, floor, tables, chairs, and wainscot is all the same stain. Stuffed birds and game heads adorn the walls. The server is friendly and smiles, even when we overload her and ask for beers one at a time.
I tried the only Slovakian beer on offer, the Golden Pheasant lager, a sweetly malted lager that needs to be served very cold and drank fast. Warm and malty is not my favorite thing.
First photographed and least worthy of talking about was the dumpling cubes ($6.75, above), fried pieces served with eggs and pickle and the sort of thing to line your stomach when the budget is tight during the cold winter.
The appetizers arrived at our table together and included the langoš ($6, above), which I had only seen on Hungarian spreads before. This version of fried bread is full of garlic and topped with melted cheese, and got a round of oohs and ahhs not only during arrival, but also when eaten.
I would have liked to have been here alone to enjoy (read: hoard) the herring ($4.75, above) all for myself. As it was, the small dish rewarded each of us with a tiny bite or two, but was full of pickled delight and seemed quite fresh.
The broiled klobasa ($7.75, above) was actually grilled, and very nice for a red sausage. It came with a side of horseradish and mustard, which makes for a delicious mouthful with a kick.
Further into the menu, our first dish from beyond the appetizers page was also the least noteworthy. The fried cauliflower ($12.75, above) might please a vegetarian, but it seems a little too thoroughly cooked and does not have much taste.
The combination ($13.75, above) afforded us the opportunity to try roasted loin of pork and smoked pork, as well as sides of sauerkraut and red cabbage. The gravy is nice, and bites of all ingredients together are quite good, but I found each piece a little uninteresting on its own.
Another show stopper was the stuffed cheese with ham ($13.75, above), a fried slab of something like mozzarella. It also came on a pile of really nicely crisped fried potatoes. The ham inside was either small enough I did not notice, or my piece didn't have any, but either way this was another dish I wanted all for myself.
Perfectly paired were the dumplings (above) and beef goulash ($13.75, below). The gravy is very rich and tastes almost entirely like the pickles used in preparing it, and soaks into those fluffy dumplings so well.
The gazdovsky tanier ($15.75, above and below) is another combination plate that combines the Slovak pirohy with bryndzove halusky, a potato spaetzle covered in thick sheep cheese. The whole plate is then "drizzled" with cubes of fried bacon. Now that I have had this dish twice and enjoyed it both times, it seems a fit start to anyone wanting to sample Slovak cuisine.
Somewhere underneath the ham and cheese was a small piece of fried schnitzel in the dish stuffed pork schnitzel ala vihorlat ($16.75, below), which is only served on weekdays. There seemed to be more ham than schnitzel, and the whole thing comes on a bed of boiled potatoes.
The dessert we all had dreams about later that night was the honey cake ($3.75, below). Such a fine texture and full of finely crushed nuts, this was advertised on a small brochure on the table and is originally an Armenian recipe apparently.
The home made strudel ($3.75, above) and crapes (sic) with jam ($3.75, below) both helped to cure our sweet tooth, but could be omitted for more honey cake in the future.
If afterwards you are up for revelry, Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden is just around the corner, offering more fun in the Czech and Slovak ways.