Say hello to Czech and Slovak cuisine, taverna-style.
I had made a booking for Doma Bohemian Beer Cafe after hearing someone at work constantly wax lyrical about it. I'd been told that the portions were huge, the food was cheap and the duck was goooooood (cue raised eyebrows and emphatic head-nodding).
My mandatory websurfing background check only cemented it as a destination worth investigating. And then, a week before our dinner, the Sydney Morning Herald came out with its Top 50 Foodie Destinations in Sydney, and yes, wouldn't you know it, but Doma was mentioned as one of them!
So you could say the anticipation factor was high. I browsed the website, printed off the menu (I do that), checked out the beers on offer and practically chose what meal I was going to order.
Feedback seemed to reiterate this was a bloke's paradise. Meat, meat and beer. If it wasn't pork, it was deep-fried. Cauliflower? Deep-fried. Mushrooms? Deep-fried. Cheese? Two kinds. Camembert and Edam. Both. Deep-fried.
Krusovice lager $5 for 0.5L
"A Czech beer with a deliciously bitter taste and an excellent head of foam."
As any host in Prague will tell you, you cannot appreciate Prague without imbibing in a keg or two of its beer. The beer menu at Doma is extensive and includes 15 varieties brewed in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland.
And just like Prague, it's cheap too. About $5 will get you half-a-litre.
Breznak pale lager $4.60 for 0.5L
"A classic Czech lager beer of the Pilsener type, noted for its pure golden colour, clean hoppy aroma and fine bitterness."
Budejovicky Budvar $4.40 for 0.33L
Pale premium lager
I stick with Budvar which was, of course, the original inspiration for American Budweiser. Unlike Budweiser however, Budvar actually has flavour. The spiel on the menu sounds more like A Big Ad though...
"Budvar pale lager will appeal to all your senses. First you see its gorgeous golden hue and thick, rich froth, then you smell its fine hop aroma, feel the dewy glass in the palm of your hand, and finally taste its gentle to medium bitterness deep in your throat. This pale lager will be forever ingrained in your memory."
There are eleven foodies gathered tonight meaning good depth of menu coverage and plenty of photos (woohoo!).
Inside it's crowded but cosy. Seating is on benches and large wooden tables. We've booked a table inside but there's a large outdoor courtyard with gas heat lamps. There's definitely a sense of authentic taverna atmosphere with the constant buzz of conversation, the densely packed patron set-up and the regular clunk of rapidly-emptying beer glasses back onto dining tables.
Chef's crispy platter for 3 people $20.90
Mixed platter of crumbed florettes of cauliflower, crisp button mushrooms and lightly crumbed pieces of brie cheese served with salad with sweet chilli dressing, home-made tartar sauce and cranberry sauce
This was actually very tasty. You can order crumbed cauliflower as a main but I don't know if that comes with a paramedic as well. We shared this between six people as a starter which was perfect for a little sample of everything.
Duck and mandarin roll with spiced sheep cheese $8.00
Half a slow-roasted free-range duck with bread dumplings and red sauerkraut $16.50
Half a slow-roasted free-range duck with speck dumplings and red sauerkraut $16.50
The duck was fairly moist and tender although a little lean for my liking. I love my duck fatty with crispy skin (just like Chinese roast duck). The tastiest duck I've had the pleasure of consuming was definitely at Paradoxe in Crows Nest.
The bread dumplings reminded me of Chinese mantou buns. The speck dumplings tasted like they looked. Like herby Spam.
Smoked pork neck with bread dumplings and sauerkraut $13.20
I didn't actually get to try the smoked pork neck but it looked (and smelt!) great. It looked very tender, fatty and moist. The chicken roulade below was also declared very tasty by its owner.
Chicken roulade $14.50
Chicken roulade filled with spinach, camembert and walnuts and served with boiled kipfler potatoes.
And then for those who find it hard to make a singular decision, there were the mixed platters. Mixed emotions more like. Joy. Gluttony. Regret.
Doma mixed platter $15.90
Roast pork belly, roast pork neck, pork schnitzel, smoked pork neck and frankfurter sausage, served with tangy sauerkraut, bread dumplings and potato dumplings.
Old Bohemian Platter for 2, $39.00
Mix of everything: half a roast duck, smoked pork neck, roasted pork neck and pork belly, chicken schnitzel, pork schnitzel and frankfurter sausage, served with sauerkraut, speck dumplings, potato dumplings and bread dumplings.
View 1 of 2
Old Bohemian Platter for 2, $39.00
View 2 of 2 (I had to rotate the plate to take shots of both sides in order to get a clear view of individual items!)
I actually had a share in the Old Bohemian platter which seemed like a colony of pigs slaughtered and put on a plate. A great way to try everything, I liked the roasted pork neck and pork belly best. The schnitzels are better at Una's. I had a nice bit of duck although my colleagues said theirs was a little dry.
Sour cherry trifle $7.00
Dessert was of course mandatory--how else does the stomach realise it has reached the conclusion to the meal?
I've only just noticed the heart shapes in the side of this trifle glass which I'm sure were accidental. But they look rather pretty regardless.
I'm told the sour cherry trifle wasn't actually that sour, but it was relished nevertheless.
Apple strudel $5.00
Home-made apple strudel with whipped double cream
Strawberry Dumplings $7.00
Low-fat cottage cheese dumplings filled with fresh strawberries, decorated with a sweet cottage cheese-based sauce, icing sugar, strawberry sauce and butter
I had been intrigued by the strawberry dumplings when I saw these on the menu. However after a couple of mouthfuls, I had to agree with a colleague who described them succinctly as "like a fat soggy sandwich with strawberry sauce".
There was a bit of real strawberry encased within its starchy prison, but this was stodge at its stodgiest. And don't get me wrong. I love stodge. I love starch. But I have my limits. This was "Dessert for peasants. Who are still ravenous after dinner." But some people loved them. Not I, I'm afraid.
Home-made plum and port sorbet with hazelnut wafer and slivovitz sauce $7.00.
Thank goodness for some redemption with this one. I had a share in this dessert as well which was a surprise hit of the night for me.
I wouldn't normally have chosen a dessert like this, but I'm glad I was forced to! The sorbet was sweet without being sickly, and the hazelnut wafer was crisp and layered with cream.
I remember these Fidorka wafer discs from Prague but didn't realise they were available in Sydney. The slivovitz sauce (a fermented plum juice often known as plum brandy) had a nice kick to it. It's also the national drink of Serbia.
Overall a great night. Honest cheap food with plenty of good beer to wash it down. Just don't bring any vegans. Maybe just a defibrillator or two.
Doma Bohemian Beer Cafe
29 Orwell Street, Potts Point, Sydney
Tel: 02 9331 0022
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9/14/2005 11:59:00 p.m.