Maso is one of the first Czech words I learned. Followed closely by kuře, hovězí, jehněčí and vepřové. My reasoning being that as a non-Czech speaking vegetarian I could then eliminate most items with meat from a Czech restaurant menu.
I’m told learning Czech is difficult and finding vegetarian food in the Czech Republic is an equally complicated proposition. I’m struggling my way through “Czech: Step by Step” and nodding agreement there, but decide to find out just how hard it really is to find vegetarian meals in Brno…
Everest Indian Restaurant
An obviously powdered Mango Lassi served in a beer glass doesn’t give me initial confidence that I’m in safe culinary hands. There are a lot of Czech, German and English typos on the menu too. Anyone care for Gulab Jamun, apparently bowels of wheat?
Brno’s Indian restaurants run the gambit of okay-to-dreadful (one is pretty dreadful) and coming from New Zealand where there’s a large Indian community — I’m quite used to good Indian food. Everest is the first I encountered here that is good. In fact the food is very, very good.
I ask for a Dal Fry — Indian hot — they make it Indian hot. The breads are crisp and flavoursome. Not everything is vegetarian obviously, but there are two pages of vegetarian dishes on Everest’s menu. If you’re here a while just start at the top and work your way down! A great selection of authentic food, and the Indian restaurant to frequent in Brno.
Avoid powdered Mango Lassi. Bowels of wheat is probably fine.
Kiwi Raw Food
I’m not sure what I’m expecting. I have visions of leaves. Coleslaw perhaps. Potato salad at a push. Whatever I have in mind I’m not close.
I order broccoli soup as a starter. It will be cold right? They’re not going to cook it so it’s going to be cold green soup. Well, yeah in a way it is, but it’s much more. It’s beautiful presented cold green soup that as soon as you put a spoonful to your lips you’re wondering: how did they do this? What other flavours are going on here? What is it that lifts this to a whole new culinary level?
Well — this is food with art in it. A dietary gallery showing just how wonderful food can really be if people put thought, time and love into it.
Soup’s followed by a buckwheat pancake and vegetable noodles. Less green but equally stunning — and don’t ask me to decide what is better. Impossible.
Probably the most perfect food I have ever tried in any restaurant anywhere. If you’re in Brno you should drop whatever you’re doing and go. Now.
A chain of vegetarian buffet cafes isn’t what you expect in a country that Anthony Bourdain once referred to as “The land that vegetables forgot.” Statistically he’s correct with only around 1.5% of the population vegetarian or vegan compared with 9% of neighbouring Germans. Defying these numbers there are 4 Rebios in Brno — and Rebio on Orli is pretty much humming with customers over lunch.
Perhaps it’s something about a buffet that attracts people short of time, or perhaps it’s just because meat or not — the food is damn good and you don’t have to be a vegetarian to appreciate that.
There’s a wide range of options on offer, soups, several kinds of hot dishes, salads, fresh fruit and delectable cakes! It’s comforting food that you can select quickly and then enjoy at your own pace. They do charge by weight though — so it’s best not to go too crazy in piling up your plate (tempted at the many choices though you may be).
Shanghai Čínská Restaurace
I notice the restaurant has a long table of Chinese customers polishing off a myriad of dishes: a promising sign in a European country that if Chinese come to a Chinese restaurant — the chef must be doing something right, right?
I have a sudden craving for vegetable egg foo yung — which isn’t on the menu — although the maso and seafood versions are. “You want it with just vegetables?” the girl waitress asks. Yes. Mushrooms? Sure. Anything you think works. The girl waitress walks off singing.
Okay this is another restaurant with a meat (mostly) menu, but there are some classic Asian vegetarian dishes here too if you’re in the mood for sifting. Cucumber and garlic, seaweed, mushrooms and Chinese cabbage, tofu with vegetables. You need to buy 3 or 4 small dishes and share them to appreciate the meal and the prices allow you to do so.
Vegetable egg foo yung appears, and it has more than mushroom. It has a wide range of tasty vegetables. I’m happy. Girl waitress walks off singing. Obviously happy too.
I like the atmosphere here. It has a lot of bricks and is cavern-like. I am partial to caverns. Much like Batman. Although unlike Batman I prefer not to dress in a rubber suit (other than on special occasions). I am partial to the food here too. The food is predominantly Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean influenced but there are dishes which have a distinct Indian flavor.
So you find curry-fusion mains, Turkish breads, hummus and wraps, moussaka, sweet baklava desserts and exotic coffees. The place you return to again and again and sample something new each time.
Try Bombay Karnabit, a spicy (for Czech Republic) cauliflower stew or Kosa Forn Bil Gibna a Turkish cheese gratin with cherry tomatoes and zucchini — both are amazing and food you won’t find elsewhere in Brno (or the whole Czech Republic?)
Bricks/caverns/great vegetarian food. Just some of my favourite things — and not that difficult to find after all.