When I was younger, I used to make my restaurant selection by noting whether or not five words emblazoned their front door: “Most major credit cards accepted.” These days my criteria tends more to noting their longevity in business, and I am especially happy to sample most restaurants that have been around fifty years or more. If their cuisine is focused on some old world cultural favorites, all the better. Like Kramarczuk’s in Minneapolis, Huber’s in Portland, and more recently the White Eagle in Niles, IL, today’s outing to the Czech Plaza, in Berwyn, IL met all of the criteria.
“Serving the best Bohemian” food for nearly fifty years, I doubt the family owned restaurant has changed their menu or decor must over that period. Simple, traditional dishes, value priced, is what rules the day, and I couldn’t find anything on the menu that wasn’t a price replica of any plate I’ve previously had in the Czech Republic region of Europe.
The restaurant offers a multi-course meal at a very low price, making it an outstanding value. I went with the “Farmer’s Market Plate”, which is a four meat sampler: sausage, meatloaf, smoked butt, and roasted pork. It’s not like I had a chance to polish them all off while at the table, as the lead-up dishes were ample and filling. After you are seated, your are presented with a basket of mild rye and gobs of butter. Your choice of beverages can come from a full bar, including legendary Czech beers like Budvar, the original “Budweiser”.
If you’ve ordered a meal, after the bread basket comes soup (I had the goulash, a rich beef and potato-based spicy puree), followed by your entree, which is accompanied by at least two sides, like sauerkraut, sweet and sour cabbage, boiled or mashed potatoes, or light as a feather dumplings, and a huge bowl of brown gravy. Not had enough? An included choice of desserts includes regional specialties, like kolaches or streudel, both of which were excellent.
The meats on my plate were lightly seasoned, heavily smoked. The meatloaf was dense and flavorful, as was the sausage, happily clad in its natural casing. The smoked butt was melt in your mouth tender. I loved the dumplings, a recipe not often authentically recreated in the US, in my experience.
Service was great, with a wait staff imported from Europe.
I love “discovering” places like this. You should, too. As the “Americanization” of international cuisine continues to evolve where entire generations think Olive Garden is Italian, and P.F. Chang’s is Chinese, well, places like Czech Plaza remind us of our grandma’s Sunday feasts.
The restaurant has a party room that can seat up to 100, and has a banquet menu with prices that are hard to beat.
“Czech out” their menu in our menu section.