During our time in Prague, and for the most part in Mikulov as well, we focused on traditional Czech foods. We scratched our itch for hearty Czech meals of meat and potatoes, accompanied by a cold Czech beer. By the time we visited our last Czech city, though, it was all about luxury dining. If looking for a luxury meal in the Czech Republic, a stop to eat in Brno is a must.
And, it might be possible to “do” Brno in a day trip from Prague, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It takes some time to get there, and to enjoy all of the amazing restaurants and cocktail bars, stay the night!
Where to Eat in Brno – Chef Jan’s Pavillon
We met Chef Jan Kaplan a year before during our last visit to Prague. We shared a beer at a quiet beer garden in the old part of town. At the time, he was eager to have us visit his restaurant in Brno, Pavillon. We tried to squeeze it in, but we didn’t have enough time, or the energy, for a two and a half hour train ride to Brno, simply for a meal.
Dining at Pavillon in Brno was one of the highlights of our Czech food tour. We don’t pay much attention to styles of architecture, at least not since my art history class during college. Pavillon is set inside a functionalist building, with wide open spaces, high ceilings, and contemporary furnishings. The original functionalist building was opened between the first and second world wars. It was white, with glass walls and red-framed windows, which opened the restaurant up to a patio overlooking a park. It was “lost to the inhabitants of Brno” during the Communist reign, but now hosts one of the most elegant dining spots in Brno, complete with an entirely eccentric sommelier.
Chef Jan offered us the tasting menu, with some additional little treats. Not only did we eat and drink well, but we sat very near the open kitchen and watched Chef Jan and his team prepare meals for the entire restaurant.
We started with a smoked catfish with grated foie gras, a quail egg, and dill. I love grated foie gras. It’s one of my favorite ways to eat foie, ever since having it for the first time when eating in Costa Brava. This version was layered with tangy beetroot sauce, an homage to the more traditional Czech cuisine. And, the quail egg was soft and tender and topped with shaved truffles. Chef Jan did not hold back for our first full course.
Next, we enjoyed a wild “bear” garlic soup with a poached egg and macadamia nuts. The bear garlic is a local garlic, and more used for the green bits sprouting from the top than the bulbs of the regular garlic. This was our second time having a bright green, herbal soup recently, and I am totally loving it.
The next course provided a taste of our home base in Bangkok. Roasted tiger prawns with coconut cream, chili, and cucumber salad.
One of the things I love about eating in the Czech Republic is the proliferation of well-prepared foie gras. We were concerned prior to our trip to France because there are rumors of a foie shortage. But, Chef Jan did not hold back, once again, with a grilled duck foie gras with fresh mango and gingerbread. The sweetness of the mango and gingerbread offset the creaminess of the foie.
The next fish I loved not only for the dish itself but for the creative plating. Our friend, Charlie, asked if we had eaten pigeon before, and frankly, I couldn’t remember. Regardless, I would not place this on the list of unique foods we’ve eaten so far this year, solely because of its fabulousness. It was a wild pigeon with onion puree and balsamic mushrooms.
Our dessert was almost too pretty to eat. Well, almost. A Valrhona milk chocolate bavarois with black currant ice cream. Essentially, it was a creamy cake, with even more creamy chocolate.
The amazing thing about our 7+ tasting menu at Pavillon is that it only cost $50 per person, a fraction of what a similarly prepared meal would cost in the US. The wine pairings generally would add another $25, Charlie arranged ahead of time to have wine pairings from his friend’s winery, Vinné sklepy U Jeňoura. Courses from the main menu range from $10 to $17, an amazing deal as well.
Where to Eat Sushi in Brno – Koishi
Charlie promised us the best sushi in the Czech Republic when he first mentioned Koishi in Brno. At one point, it seemed to fall off our itinerary. I am so glad we “encouraged” (read: insisted) that Charlie add Koishi back in. Although we were particular about wanting to limit our dining to Czech cuisine and declined the option to eat Italian at the Four Seasons in Prague, we love sushi. And, I was curious to see what sushi in Brno was all about.
We were welcomed by Janko, the owner of Koishi, who was willing to work with us on the menu. We were there for sushi but wanted to taste a few of the Asian inspired dishes as well. He offered a few of the items we wanted to try, in so-called “tasting portions.”
I fell in love immediately with Mr. Saitosan, the sushi master from Nagoya, Japan. Every single male member of his family, as far back as he can remember, made sushi. It seems it’s in his blood.
Mr. Saitosan was pleasant, smiling, joking, and didn’t mind us filming him and taking photos. In fact, at times, he acted out in front of the camera, much to my delight. It reminded me of our sushi experiences in Osaka and Tokyo, where the sushi chefs call out a welcome as each person arrives, and make a display of the sushi making.
We started with a couple of dishes off the starter menu and warmed into sushi.
Sashimi and beef tenderloin tartare with cucumber, avocado, and wasabi was stunning and tasty. We all seemed to fight not only for the sashimi but for all of the little bits of tastiness it was served with.
A wild red Argentine shrimp, with mango gazpacho, green asparagus, yuzu, and matcha oil, was artfully plated, and tasty as well.
After our two tasting portions, we shared an amazing sushi platter that was better than any sushi I’ve had outside of Japan. There’s something to be said for eating amazing sushi in a place like Brno, Czech Republic. And, the platter included freshly shaved wasabi. I always forget how pungent fresh wasabi is!
Next, our two entrees arrived. Although we ordered “tasting” portions, suddenly, three plates arrive for our next course, a turbot fish and veal sweetbreads, served with artichokes, Madeira sauce, lemon, yuzu emulsion, and hazelnuts. It was good, and turbot was perfectly cooked, but I was starting to get full!
At the end of the turbot course, we asked for smaller courses on our final dish. They seemed to comply, but I almost felt that there was someone in the kitchen who was testing my theory on the occupational hazard of being a food travel blogger. The sea bass with beetroot, black sesame, rice powder, hollandaise, and dashi vinaigrette, was a perfect end to the meal. When offered dessert, we had to decline. I was stuffed to the brim. Did I mention, it was only lunch!
Koishi is more higher-end dining, with starters ranging from $13-$20 and main courses ranging from $22 to $33, with sushi prices to match. But the quality of the Asian cuisine, and certainly the quality of the sushi, has to be the best in the area.
Janko also offered us a series of wine pairings, focused only on Moravian wines. Janko owns a wine shop just across the passageway from Koishi with wines from all over the world. But, he also has an impressive collection of some of the best Czech wines. He offers tastings a few times a month in the tasting room in the back. Koishi and Janko’s wine shop are a must visit when eating in Brno.
Where to Eat in Brno – Simplé Family Restaurant
The name Simplé shows Chef Lukas Necas’ sense of humor. Simplé Family Restaurant is hardly simple, and far from a family restaurant. It’s a small restaurant, with about ten tables in a decor of white and royal blue. Only two servers, each bow-tied, man the dining room, and pour the wines.
Although the dishes were elegantly prepared, often times works of art, I think the ingredients were a little too traditional for my simple palate. But, this is what Chef Lukas is known for. Using traditional, lesser-known ingredients, and creating masterpieces from them.
I’ve never been one for head cheese or terrines, but Chef Lukas offered a veal head terrine with celery root and mustard that was not only pretty but also surprising.
We ate a large plate of a series of tiny bites, including rabbit mousse and rabbit ham. I will say, many Americans would avoid this sort of dish, but if they didn’t know what it was, they would eat it wholeheartedly. Tiny flavorful bites.
Another version of fish, similar the versions at Pavillon and Koishi, looked absolutely stunning. This time, trench, a fish, was served with spelt ragout, mint, and lemon “snow.” It just looked like spring.
Our final course, a crayfish with bisque, pork belly, peas, lemon balm, and wine left us wondering what was what. The pork belly surrounded the bottom of the dish, with a tower of mini peas, topped off with a bisque foam.
We enjoyed the tasting menu, with the suggested wine pairings from the Simplé wine list. Although the wine pairings worked well with the menu, they were all international wines. I would have preferred to see the sommelier attempt to pair local wines with the traditional ingredients.
The highlight of the meal had to be the dessert, in which Chef Lukas emerged from the kitchen to prepare our science experiment dessert in the center of the restaurant. Titled simply as a cucumber pannacotta, with citrus, dill, ash, and gel, it was a molecular gastronomy win in my book.
Finally paired with a local beverage, instead of a Moravian wine, the cucumber pannacotta was paired with a local cider.
Just after dessert, Chef Lukas invited us back to his petite kitchen, which perfectly matches his petite restaurant. And offered us a series of petit fours in the kitchen.
The tasting menu at Simplé in Brno is a less expensive night out than at Pavillon, at only $40 per person for 5+ courses, or $65 with the wine pairings.
Chef Lukas is a really nice guy, totally enthusiastic and passionate about his cooking. Although sometimes I thought there were a few too many flavors on the plate, he shows great promise for the future. And, I think he is a good example of the burgeoning gastronomic scene in Brno, and in the Czech Republic overall.
For a more detailed look at what and where to eat in Brno check out this video:
Looking For Unique Food, Beer and Wine Tours in the Czech Republic?
Looking for a unique way to learn about traditional Czech food in Prague, or farther afield in the rest of the country? What about an interesting Czech beer tour, mixologist and cocktail tour, or even a Czech wine tour? Here are our recommendations for Czech food tours to learn more about Czech cuisine and traditions.
|Tour||Duration||City||Price From||Book It|
|Private Prague Bike Tour - Up to 15 People||1.5 Hours||Prague||$438|
|Bohemian Wine Tasting 4x4 Day Trip||7 Hours||Prague||$211|
|Prague Cooking Class & Market Tour||4 Hours||Prague||$157|
|Prague Food Tour With Local Foodies||4 Hours||Prague||$118|
|Mixology Bar Tour||3 Hours||Prague||$118|
|South Moravia Wine Trip From Brno||Flexible||Brno||$148|
|Pilsner Brewery Tour & Beer Tasting||5.5 Hours||Pilsen||$62|
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
Heading to the Czech Republic?
Where to Stay in Brno: Get hotel recommendations here.
What to do in the Czech Republic: Drink Czech wine (yes, that’s a thing)
Find more Czech Republic posts here.
We were supported by Visit Czech Republic and JayWay Travel, who offers customized tours of the Czech Republic and all of Central and Eastern Europe. Of course, all opinions, and yummy sounds are my own. While in Brno, we stayed at the fabulously restored art deco Grandezza Hotel. Easily my favorite of our hotels in the Czech Republic. We had an enormous corner room, with a balcony providing a view over the square. It was exquisite!
Update: Since our trip to Brno, unfortunately, Chef Lukas has closed Simple Family Restaurant, but he is sure to have another place opening in the near future. We will update this post again to let you know where!