22. Czech Republic (The Czechoslovak National House and Restaurant, West End Lane, West Hampstead)

Whoops, this is very delayed. Apologies keen Dinnergeddoners. Well our Czech Republic stop was a right treat which we weren’t expecting. First of all, this isn’t your average restaurant/cafe/pub/eatery, from the outside it looks like you’re just about to walk into someone’s house and feel awkward. Fortunately, there was a group just ahead of us that were heading in, so they led the way. Arriving into what I can only describe as some kind of lobby straight from a 80s Eastern European hostel, we were greeted by a Czech man asking us if we’d been there before (we clearly hadn’t) and proceeded to explain that there were two dining areas we could choose from, table service or order from the bar. I believe the table service meant you had to pay more money, so naturally we chose to order from the bar, and so off we went to find a seat.

The club was originally formed in 1946 for the Czechslovakian veterans who served in the British Army, and the decor hasn’t changed since then. The club was originally based in Holborn, but due to a ban of selling beer in Holborn at the time, they bought a property in North London – I like their determination. The club now exists for the Czech and Slovak community in London, where they can get a reminder of home. I think we were pretty much the only British people in there, but don’t let that put you off. It’s basically a museum with some food – there was all kinds of important-looking portraits on the wall, a war memorial.. they probably even had a souvenir shop tucked away somewhere.

One of the best things about the club is that it’s home to some of the cheapest pints in London, at a mere £3 – you don’t realise how expensive drinking in London is until you get excited about the novelty of spending £3 on a pint. The place had an air of mystery about it with its customers – who were they? where did they come from? why was a tap dancing class going on in the strange room next door (it sounded like tap dancing)? I also came across a woman having a full body wash out of the sink when I went to the toilet, which made me wonder whether people actually live there.

Anyway on to the food, I went for their classic club chicken schnitzel served with schnitzel BBQ sauce, garlic, fried onions, cheddar, picked vegetables, and fried potato. Czechs don’t seem to be into the whole vegetarian thing, so Jodi went for the quorn variety.
The portions were pretty massive and we felt very stuffed after all of this hearty fried fare. Both felt like we weren’t blown away by the food, but we feel we’d definitely go back to taste a little bit of the 1940s in the 21st century again – hence the scores:

environment 10 food 7, service 6



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