Eating out with Eastern Europe
I love all of Europe, but I’ll be honest I know less about Eastern Europe probably than any part. I visited the Czech Republic when I was a teenager, and we popped over to Poland for the day that week. That’s the sum total of my experience really. Mind you, it was the first time I tried spätzle and the first time I got to have deep fried cheese, so to be honest it was a pretty formative experience as trips go.
And part of me is a little wary of Eastern European cuisine in the same way that I am not convinced by Scandinavian food, because my imagination conjures up a proliferation of pickles, my nemesis in the food world. However, the other part of my brain imagines delicious things like warming stews and dumplings and other stodgy delights. Recently it has been the latter part of my brain that has won out, as I find myself heading to one or other Eastern European venue in Leicester on a weekly basis at the moment.
Tatra Eastern Corner
This is the old established choice, just off Granby Street, round the corner from the train station. It’s been around for at least 5 years I would say. The restaurant is Czech and Slovak with a range of one pot meals, breaded meats, homemade dumplings and more on offer. I have always found it welcoming and a lovely place to wile away a couple of hours, although I have to say the last time we visited we waited over an hour for food. In pregnant lady time this is approximately seventy billion years and will not do at all. But I do like it there and I probably will go back.
I would like to point out that not everything pictured here was consumed by me. Most of it though.
Czech One Two
Tatra can be valued for having Kozel on draught and dark Kozel in bottles for a start. Add to that the delicious layered honey cake shown above and you’re on to a winner. I tried the chicken stroganoff and really enjoyed it, despite the sauce being more mustard-based than I normally enjoy. Splitting half dumplings and half chips was clearly not a conventional choice, but it gave you something to soak up the masses of sauce, whilst also enjoying dipping the lovely crisp fries.
The highlight is of course the deep fried edam. Get the edam, not the camembert. This is the one that reminds me precisely of my days in the Czech Republic – giant golden triangles of crispy and gooey deliciousness, that I could probably eat every day. But shouldn’t. But I want to.
Tigre is a little newer, just around the corner from St Margaret’s Bus Station. And the Haymarket Bus Station obviously. It is next door to a newly established charity shop where all the clothes were £1, apart from a big bin where everything was 3 for £1 when I went. So I’ll be returning there, obviously. I bought BamBam a cowprint onesy, because I intend on embarrassing my baby as long as possible.
Anyway, Tigre is a Romanian restaurant and I know nothing at all about Romanian food so I was very intrigued to try it. The Boy played it relatively safe with a Romanian version of shawarma – the shoarma! Yep, it’s a wrap with slivers of meat, in this case chicken, with crisp pickled veg and a homemade garlic sauce. Very filling and tasty. I played it possibly even more safely with the homemade sausage. When we got chatting with the owners the chap showed me a video of him making the sausages in the tiny kitchen to the back. They were LUSH! Really well, and quite heavily, spiced with what I am guessing was a lot of paprika and cumin? Well, I don’t care to be honest, they were lovely. And very close textured – the sign of a very high meat content and very little filler. The bonus of a homemade sausage.
They even kindly brought us out a couple of the cabbage rolls to try, having shown me the giant pot of some 150 rolls simmering away, freshly made, on the stove. This was also filled with a seasoned pork and had a light spicing in the broth that it was boiled in. Very delicious and totally more-ish. Needless to say I will be going back to investigate what other fun stuff is on the menu.
What’s your favourite part of Eastern European cuisine, and what other delicacies should I look out for?
I thought spätzle originated in Southern Germany – I made some there when I was about 18. They are made with a machine nowadays but originally the were flaked off a special board (spätzlebrett) into boiling water. I also learned how to make genuine Black Forest cake and various yeast based cakes /cake Breads. The other food sounds yummy, I particularly like Hungarian goulash with caraway dumplings and real baked cheesecake made with Quark and a sour cream topping . I will obviously need to try one or two of the restaurants you mentioned.
I think they probably do Janet – I just happened to have them for the first time in a family home in a small Czech town!