The elevator doors dinged open to a gaggle of young girls dressed in traditional Czech folk costumes. Behind them, restaurant doors lay open to a riot of colours, tables groaning under platters of food, a heavyset man in chef whites (doubtless the protagonist) sifting between a corps of wine-sipping diplomats and other dignified personages, Czech flags in profusion everywhere, and curiously enough, a jazz band trumpeting out Ricky Matin’s Livin a Vida Loca. It could have been the opening scene from a comic spy thriller.
The truth, as usual, was a little more prosaic. The occasion was the opening night of the 10-day Czech food festival being held at ITC Maurya’s West View restaurant and the chef was indeed the man of the hour: Marek Svoboda, who has flown in to create and execute a traditional Czech menu.
Comprising several courses, the meal begins with six Czech antipasti with tongue-twister names (though they comprise pickled vegetables and meats, savoury pastries and open sandwiches among other items) as well as cold cuts, cheeses and a salad station wherein you can construct your own.
The briney mushrooms (the Czech have a particular affinity for the fungi) and traditional Czech potato soup or chicken broth is served tableside along with breads.
Guests have the option of sampling Bude (jovický Budvar, the country’s best-selling beer), which is a testament to the Czech people’s centuries-old mastery at brewing, to accompany their meal, or end it with the digestive liqueurs Fernet Stock or Becherovka.
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For mains, the concept of West View’s grill room takes over. Guests are required to arm themselves with plates and step towards the grill section. Here, myriad meats and just-as-extensive vegetarian selection repose, regal and raw, on chilled shelves. One can choose between lobster tail, tenderloin, lamb chops and steaks, duck breast, pork chops, Himalayan river trout and a slew of other proteins marinated in Czech spices like majoram. And hand the piled-up platter to a waiting battalion of chefs who will grill your selection to your preferred degree of doneness and serve you on your table. The meats are fabulously cut and just as toothsome, and accompanied by potato pancakes and goulash, both Czech staples, which are available on request.
The vegetarian section somehow failed to draw our attention but there was a litany of legumes and a roost of root-vegetables. The food, music and alcohol all combine to make a most connival evening; no bleak Prague Cemetery this.
The Czech food festival is on till April 26 between 7 pm and 11.45 pm at West View, ITC Maurya. Priced at
Rs 2,950 plus taxes a person. Contact 46215152 for reservations