Does the Czech Club realise its retro appeal? Frank Sinatra on a loop in its fabulous dining room – like a 1950s guesthouse, complete with chandelier, Axminster carpet and portrait of a shiny new Elizabeth II over the mantelpiece – and a wartime RAF advert on its menu might suggest so. But retro-hungry trendsters don’t figure strongly among the clientele. Instead, you’ll find plenty of eastern European accents, along with locals chewing a sausage and sipping Pilsner Urquells in the almost equally antediluvian bar or, in summer, the domestic-style back garden.
Food is ludicrously inexpensive and geared towards brawny workers taking on weight for the bitter eastern winters – schnitzels, dumplings, roasts, smothered in thick sauces. Cream, cheese and pork dominate, sometimes all together, as in a main course of tender wild boar roast with creamy, cheesy sauce and dumplings (actually doughy slices of white bread), which came with cranberry sauce balanced on a lemon slice, and, bizarrely, a roasted segment of grapefruit.
This immensity was a ‘small’ portion; a defibrillator should be on hand for anyone ordering ‘large’. Tangy cabbage and sour cream soup began the meal; a thick pancake encasing well-stewed strawberries surrounded by a welter of whipped cream brought it to a solid conclusion. Service was polite yet geologically slow. The food? Filling. The experience? Unmissable.