I've started this thread to hopefully attract the attention of other Brno residents or those who are travelling to the area. I have recently relocated here, for work, from Bangalore, India where I had a thread running for a while (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/684476). I'll include my thoughts/comments on restaurants/food stands/delis/markets in Brno and the surrounding area. I look forward to seeing reviews from others here so I can work to discover all the culinary gems Brno, and area, has to offer.
Baroko (Orli 17, Brno), north east side of the Centrum, 2 blocks from Svobody Namesti (main square).
We were brought here by another expat couple who've been in Brno for over a year, they knew we hadn't had any beef in a while and promised that Baroko had a good steak at a good price. Baroko is one of the many underground establishments built in what appears to be an old wine cellar, I've always liked the ambiance of these types of places and Baroko was no exception. One difference here is they were going for a more modern look (glass/steel/white paint) which was a nice change from some of the more rustic versions. Our Czech is still not great, and will take time to develop, so it was nice the staff spoke some English and the menu descriptions included English as well.
I had the pepper steak (med. rare) with roasted potatoes and my wife had a chicken breast stuffed with cheese and ham and a tomato salad. The steak was properly cooked, well seasoned and the pepper sauce was tastey but lacked any real heat from the peppercorns. Coming from cattle country in Western Canada I'm usually underwhelmed by beef in other places and while this steak was good it was also not aged (my taste preference) and therefore was not an excellent steak compared to home. The roasted potatoes also appeared deep fried, not oven roasted and left something to be desired. My wife's chicken dish was huge and there was no way she had a chance of finishing it all, but she did enjoy it a lot and ate as much as she could.. the tomato salad was good but nothing extraordinary.
All in all Baroko is a good looking place, with attentive service, a decent wine list and a slightly too large menu that I believe has led to some banality. I'll definately be back for drinks but not necessarily for dinner.
Arka (Jundrov district)
I had been here before when previously visiting Brno and enjoyed a very nice lunch, so we decided to repeat the trip on a recent Sunday drive out to the resevoir. It's a slightly more upscale community pub with a good menu of dishes that include more than just the usual Czech standards. On this occassion I ordered the spicy pork ribs and my wife the gnocci with shredded pork, sauerkraut and fried onions. I was skeptical about the "spicy" claim on the ribs but was happy to find the two sauces supplied were both spicy, not hot hot, but hot enough to make me happy. The ribs were very tender, the meat fell off the bone and soaked up lots of the sauces. I had a side of the Viennese potato salad whose acidity went nicely with the pork. My wife had previously had the gnocci but liked it so much it was the only option she considered for lunch. Again she was very happy with the whole dish, nothing over cooked and nothing to complain about.
Borgo Agnese (Kopecna 43, Brno) just down the hill/road from the Comsa Palace Hotel in the direction of Mendolovo Namesti
This is one of the highest of the high end restaurants in town and it deserves the outstanding reputation it has. The ambiance is very elegant (although if construction of the hospital extention ever finishes it will be better), the service is attentive but not cloying, the wine list is extensive and the food is exceptional.
I've been here twice and each time the wine I've ordered has exceeded my expectations. Being new to CZ and Brno I'm never certain where to buy good wine (the hypermarkets are not the answer) but I always know a bottle of local South Moravian wine from Borgo Agnese will be far better than anything I've been able to source myself. I wanted to ask where to buy the wines they have on their menu, but in the end chickened out... I'll keep searching on my own.
I went outside the Czech box for dinner and ordered the Bison, something I cook and eat on a regular basis back home. Bison can be tricky because of the low fat content and I wasn't sure how far it had travelled to end up on my plate. I did ask where the Bison was sourced but unfortunately my lack of Czech and the waiters' English did not meet and I was unable to find out. But I went ahead with the order and was very happy with my choice, the meat was a perfect med. rare and was neither dry nor at all tough. The potatoes that came with the dish were also very well done, presented and seasoned with nothing to complain about, the same could be said of the roasted seasonal vegetables that were served for the table.
I really like this place and will continue to come back as often as my wallet allows.
Gausthaus Schrieber (Poysdorf, Austria) south of Brno on the highway to Vienna not far from the Czech/Austrian border
We were recommened here by the staff at one of the excellent Poysdorf wine markets, they recommended the schnitzel and as such we stuck to the recommendation. Gausthaus Schrieber is a neighbour pub, with a beautiful outdoor dining area, play area for the kids and a massive amount of space indoors. We sat outside as it was a very warm spring day.
We had two types of pork schnitzel: one traditional with breadcrumbs and an egg dip and the other was no breadcrumb just a very heavy egg wash. The egg wash schnitzel was very different, more of a breakfast taste with all the egg and the porky goodness, I enjoyed every last bite. The traditional schnitzel was good but lacked the lightness of breading compared to other schnitzels we've enjoyed in other places, nothing wrong with the taste or texture at all, simply not as well executed. The boiled, buttered and herbed potato side and the mixed salad were great accompaniments with nothing to complain about.
Zamecka Restaurant (Lednice, CZ) just outside the gates of the Lichtenstein Palace in Lednice
Outdoor seating is key to this place as the interior is pretty standard with nothing to draw attention, outdoors of course allows you to view the restored palace and a small corner of the gardens. We had the beef broth soup with liver dumplings, pork medalions in an herbed gravy and the fried cheese with tartar sauce. The soup was the highlight of the meal with very light and texturally pleasing dumplings in a clear beef broth. The pork medallions were ok, although not "medallions" of pork tenderloin as expected and instead were circular cuts of pork from a piece other than the tenderloin. The sauce was a bit flour heavy and lacked much of interest. The fried cheese was... fried cheese how can it be bad! (It wasn't)
I don't think we'll rush back to this place if we're in Lednice again, unless it's to have a beer on the outside patio.
That's it so far, I hope we'll get recommendations from others in the area and if anyone can point me to a place to buy really good Southern Moravian wine and a butcher/market that sells lamb I would greatly appreciate it.