Enjoy Yourself! It May be Later than You Think.
So reads the slightly ominous greeting on Klas menu. This monument to Bohemian food has been on Cermak since 1922 and is one of the few remaining Eastern European businesses on that stretch. Who knows how much longer it will hold on? From what I understand new owners took over not long ago but I dont think much has changed so thats a very good sign.
Ive known of Klas for quite a while but never managed to visit. Last Saturday I stopped in for a quick beer and to glance at the menu. After over 4 hours, many steins of beer, and several pounds of food I happily staggered out. I was unprepared for how special Klas is.
To your right as you enter theres a small dark bar, well worth a visit. Lots of carved wood, stained glass, and taxidermy, all very atmospheric. Three Czech beers on tap for a very reasonable $3.50 per half-liter stein. The bar was half full early Saturday evening and all the conversations were in initially in Czech. I spent several hours discussing (in English) Cicero, food, books, politics, and who knows what else. I was surprised I was the only one familiar with the klobosy at Jims Market (I think they were even more surprised that someone unable to properly pronounce Veseckys knew anything about klobosy).
Originally I hadnt planned to eat but after all that talking I was hungry. Good thing, theres no such thing as a small meal at Klas. Dinner starts with soup and bread. Liver dumpling soup was tasty, with a thin beef broth and a large, livery dumpling. Rye bread (baked in house I believe) was extraordinary, with a beautiful springy texture and good crust. Then a trip to the small but nice salad bar. Among other things there were five versions of cabbage salad, each very different and extremely fresh. That would have made a satisfying meal right there but then came my plate of svickova (pickled beef) with two gigantic slices of bread dumpling, all covered with about a pint of sour cream gravy. A garnish of thinly sliced lemon added a lot. All very good, especially the dumplings which were about as light as dumplings soaking in gravy can be. For dessert I had rice pudding, a very dense, rice-intensive version. Full dinner prices range from $6.25 (meatloaf) to $10.95 for the Bohemian Plate (I can hardly imagine the size of that one).
The old-fashioned main dining room is pleasant and there are lots of old curios around (Al Capones deck of cards is on display in the foyer). Fresh linen tablecloths and napkins are used and service was more than competent. All in all, an astounding value.
I think they now have a special additional menu for the holidays. I just might have to return soon for a plate of roast goose with dumplings and cabbage. I cant wait to try some of the other Czech places as well, especially Bohemian Crystal.
"Enjoy Yourself! It May be Later than You Think."
5734 W Cermak Rd (a few blocks west of Blue Line 54/Cermak stop)
Open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week