Friday night, time to hit King Street again. I have developed a bit of a habit of arriving early and going to a pub for a fortifying ale before embarking on the night’s eating. It is the only time I get around to watching Super Rugby and it reminds me how much I used to enjoy going to the Brumbies matches in Canberra. I don’t care about the competition at all but I do enjoy the rugby, mind you, the rugby played in the park across the road by the Shammies is more entertaining. In a ten minute sojourn around the park you are likely to see three or four tries scored. They’re not very big on defence.
Tonight we are crossing the road and leaving Asia briefly to visit Europe, and I am looking forward to it. Nothing against Asian food, but we’ve just had six in a row and I fancy a change of pace. We are joined tonight by some local chums. Mark has just returned from a holiday visit to Prague, Budapest and Berlin, so he is along to check for Authenticity – see how I resisted temptation there. Lorinda, Jay and Ned (he’s the one with the hat) are just along for the food and the fascinating company.
Cheeky Czech. The cute name – it brings to mind Mardi Gras revellers – and the yellow colour scheme suggests a franchise in the offing but I can find no evidence to back up this theory. Google Streetview tells me that the site was previously occupied by a wrap bar – whatever that is – called Giraffe, which solves the mystery of the large African themed light fitting. Cheeky Czech is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner although there doesn’t seem to be anything very Czech about the breakfast menu. The blackboards on the street and the walls proclaim lots of special deals which all seem to offer meat and beer in various combinations. I’m liking the place more and more.
We order Czech beers to start and continue with them through the night. Mark accuses me of drinking a Belgian beer but I point out that the menu begs to differ. While we are chatting and admiring young Ned’s skill at putting the little paper tubes of sugar back in their container, our nostrils are being seduced by the luscious smells coming from the kitchen. For entrees we have meatballs, potato cakes and mushrooms. There is some confusion over the meatballs. While I am busy typing what turn out to be incomprehensible notes into my phone, I get the impression that Jay has been talked out of ordering the meatballs because we have all ordered them but no, it turns out that they only have one serve left which I ordered while everyone else was umming and ahhing. The price of indecision. The meatballs are the winners, nice and crispy, but the potato cakes and mushrooms are not so appealing.
For mains we go the full meaty spectrum: pork belly, schnitzel and beef roulade from the menu, and braised beef and roast duck from the specials board. The pork belly is very tasty and comes with very good red cabbage and some rather stodgy potato dumplings. I am probably being unfair to the dumplings: stodge is the whole point of a dumpling. A bit like accusing a duck of quacking. Speaking of which, the roast duck is huge and very good according to Mark. The schnitzel is, well, a schnitzel so no surprises there. The two beef dishes are a bit disappointing – both a little over done, tough even – although I wonder if that is just the nature of this type of European food. The roulade is wrapped around an egg and Strop describes it as being like a giant scotch egg which is an alarming idea.
The service is friendly, efficient, and comes with culturally appropriate accents. There is only one dessert and it is the apple strudel at the bottom of the specials board. It apparently comes with ice cream and toppings. We are a bit worried these might be chocolate sauce, or hundreds and thousands, or even M and M’s. When they arrive the surprise is not in the topping, which is supposed to be honey, but in the accompanying ice-cream. They seem to have run out of vanilla so we get a chocolate and a strawberry as well. The fruity and spicy filling is very nice but the pastry could be a bit lighter. But again stodge – it’s what they do in that part of Europe isn’t it?
By the time we leave, we are all groaning about how full we are. A litre of beer will do that.
I had a good time at the Cheeky Czech, even though the food is a bit hit and miss, and the quirks, like the deconstructed Neopolitan ice-cream I found quite endearing. Next up is Basil – a pizza joint that uses the word gourmet a little too freely for my liking.