Czech House/ Чешский Дом
3я Тверская-Ямская, д. 36/40
Hours: vary, call ahead
+7-495-787 78 51
Many countries with an economic and diplomatic presence in Russia will likewise have a cultural center somewhere in the Moscow area, where anyone interested can sample said country’s food, art, and/or music without buying a plane ticket. These centers, which often function as off-shoots of the embassy, host a variety of events, many of them free or priced for students. A scan of the Czech House’s offerings, for example, showed that an exhibit of Olympic photography is currently on display (see photo), a Czech film will be shown at the Russian State Library of Foreign Literature (ВГБИЛ) as part of a festival dedicated to International Women’s Day, and, for the truly hard-core, Czech language classes are available. On this particular evening, I was invited by my friend Honza, who in addition to being a living and breathing citizen of the Czech Republic, works for a company that sells luxury chandeliers to Russian businesses.
The House also happens to have an amazing restaurant on the first floor that serves traditional Czech dishes like Roasted Pork Knee (pečené vepřové koleno) — an impressive kilo of meat served bone-in with mustard and horseradish. For those with less of a voracious appetite, I’d recommend the Gulash with Dumplings hovězí guláš s knedlíkem. They also serve real Pilsner beer (which, as I was told, differs from the “inauthentic slosh” on tap at the Pilsner restaurant chain in Moscow.) It also only runs about 80 rubles ($2.25) for a half liter. For those yet to encounter downtown Moscow prices (where 300 rubles for a standard bottle is not uncommon), these prices are pretty low. Be ready to turn on your currency converter app. though, as everything on the menu is listed in euros (however, rubles are accepted as payment.)
Because this restaurant functions as part of the Czech House, going there requires a bit of planning ahead. There is a guard at the door whose job it is to figure out why you’re there, as the primary clientele consists of people affiliated in some way with the Czech Republic. That said though, all I had to say was that my friend was waiting for me in the restaurant (which was true, but it didn’t seem like anyone was too concerned regardless; nobody asks for ID.) Nevertheless, it might be best to plan a trip to the restaurant in conjunction with attendance at an event being hosted there (a film showing, exhibit, lecture, etc.) which can be found listed (in Russian and Czech) on their site. This will help get the most out of your visit and put to rest suspicions that you’re just there for the cheap beer. You know, like going to your university’s Hari Krishna meetings for the spiritual experience, with the awesome free food being an afterthought J
“For groups and faculty-led tours,” you’d definitely need to call ahead. Given that it’s in part the Czech House’s mission to acquaint the uninitiated with the wonders of Czech culture though, it might even be possible to arrange a private tour. In any event, there is so much on offer at the Czech House that those with any interest in the country’s art, history, politics, or language would be amiss to not stop by!