“ Address: Jakubske Namesti 101/2 / Brno „
I'm the kind of traveller that hates to think she's been lured into a tourist trap to pay over the odds for something distinctly average; I'll generally go out of my way to avoid an English or Irish styled pub on the continent but occasionally the unthinkable happens and I end up eating somewhere I'd not have chosen voluntarily. Brno's Sherlock Holmes pub is a good example: we'd wanted to eat at a microbrewery and restaurant in the town but the place was heaving when we rolled up and judging by the queue for tables it was going to be a lengthy wait. The next nearest place was the Sherlock Holmes pub; a sign outside listed some beers we hadn't tried before in the Czech Republic as well as a good selection of traditional Czech dishes. While you couldn't really describe the prices as expensive (certainly not in comparison with UK prices, or with Prague prices, the city we had just come from) we knew that we could certainly eat the same dishes more cheaply if we looked a little further. It was by this time dark, however, and becoming quite cold, so we decided to abandon our principles and go in.
While I wouldn't say that the Sherlock Holmes pub matches my ideas of a typical English pub, it does conform to the version that people in central Europe tend to have an idea of. It's all tables and chairs so there are no comfortable upholstered corner seats and, as is the way in this part of the world, all service is at table rather than at the bar. There is seating on two levels; it was a busy Friday night when we visited and we took the only free table we saw on the ground floor in case there was nothing else but with hindsight we should have looked upstairs as it was quite draughty every time the door opened.
There must be something obviously English about us because the waitress brought over a couple of menus in English. The menu is a bit of a mixed bag with a decent selection of traditional Czech dishes and recognisable international fare offering lighter bites, hearty main meals and some meat free options. Skipping starters (and I'm glad we did as the portions were quite sufficient) we ordered main courses which came quite quickly considering that the place was busy and a good proportion of customers were dining.
I had chosen a spicy pork dish; the strips of pork had been sautéed - possibly marinated before hand too - in a very spicy sauce along with strips of red and yellow pepper; this was not unlike a goulash in terms of ingredients and flavour, though it was not as stew or soup like as a traditional goulash. This was served with four shallow fried potato cakes. The meat was still nice and tender which means bonus points for the chef because the peppers were beautifully tender but hadn't gone to almost nothing as they can do when cooked like this. There was a lot of heat going on which is unusual for this part of the world but I was very appreciative; this dish certainly excited the taste-buds. The potato cakes were tasty and well seasoned; they were rosti because the potato wasn't grated, neither were they croquettes, a rustic hash brown is perhaps the best way to describe them but they were far better than that, nicely coloured from the cooking but not greasy and great for mopping up the fiery sauce from pork.
On the other side of the table there was a lovely piece of salmon fillet which was almost completely hidden by some greenery which I think had been intended to be a garnish but proved a very good camouflage. This was a lovely piece of salmon that had been cooked by someone who knew what he or she was doing. The skin was crisp and well seasoned while the fish itself was not overcooked and was still moist. This was served with cherry tomatoes which were less of a success. The tomatoes were just warmed but needed to have been cooked a bit longer with a bit of olive oil and some herbs so that their juices would have burst out as you cut into them. The skins should have started to split and they were still in tact. It would also have been better, at least aesthetically, if the tomatoes had been roasted still on the vine. This was a shame as they were really tasty, sweet tomatoes, not the insipid Dutch things that you tend to see in the supermarkets in the winter months (we visited in early November). There was a choice of side dish and croquettes were chosen; these were pretty run of the mill, obviously ready made but cooked through and there were loads of them.
During our stay in the Czech Republic there was a nationwide beer event going on in which beers normally found in one part of the country were made available in other areas - a bit like the British idea of having guest ales. This is good because you do find that local beers tend to dominate a region and it's good to get a chance to try something different at least once. I don't recall what we had but by choosing the beer on promotion we paid significantly less in a pub where the beer prices generally are a bit higher than in many other pubs in the city centre.
The service is less than friendly but I can't complain too much as my Czech is limited and the two staff who attended to our table both spoke good English. Service was always prompt and orders were accurate.
We paid around £23 for our meals with drinks which is quite expensive for Brno; this is a bit of a tourist trap and we heard quite a few foreign voices. It seems like this is the sort of place where people take foreign visitors, or where people go because they want something a bit more 'cosmopolitan' than the usual Czech fare. Our food was good on the whole but I'm pretty sure we'd have got something as good, if not better, and certainly cheaper had we been willing to walk a little bit further.
Sherlock Holmes Pub
Jakubske Namesti 2
Open daily 11.00 am - midnight