Central European (Czech, Austrian, Bavarian) Fine Dining
321 East 73rd Street – Upper East Side
We decided to make a rare venture uptown to try a new Bohemian restaurant. Hospoda is a unique dining experience and I would recommend it only for the more adventurous diner. Also of note, this is a great place to take beer drinking friends. Their meals are paired with Pilsner Urquell drafted in a variety of ways to modify its weight, flavor, color and temperature. It is a really fascinating tradition and we frankly knew nothing about it. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and will guide you through both the cuisine and the beer drafting techniques. They also offer a wine pairing for EVERY DISH on the menu. This is a rare and much appreciated feature. I veered from the beer for my main course and enjoyed a very unique pinot noir with my lamb. The sommelier pours every glass of wine in the dining room and explains the pairing. It is a lovely touch.
The dining area features art by the Czech street artist Masker. He is a painter who translates his art into street art and brings the street into his fine art. He does simple illustrations reflecting a sarcastic attitude about the bad habits of civilization. He did such a work in Hospoda. At first glance, it is hard to tell what is going on in the piece. which is a full mural covering the two inner walls of the restaurant. But after a couple of beers, the figures become clearer. They are people in social situations mixed with beer graphics. The work is carved in wood paneling or veneer and affixed to a panel of light.
The menu is a really interesting concept. There are 3 Courses. They have a prix fixe price for 2 plates ($32) or 3 plates ($45). They also offer a 7 course tasting for $88. The first two courses are smaller plates and the third course is entree sized. We had the opportunity to taste quite a number of dishes on the menu since we had a party of three.
beet variation, sour cream, malt, shallot vinegar, beer jelly
potato variation, saffron, cottage cheese, caraway milk skin, watercress
pan seared striped bass, butternut squash, rutabega, lemon sauce
There were quite a few notable dishes in the mix. First, the beet and potato variations were both visually stunning and filled with flavor variations. I would seriously recommend doing these two as the 1st and 2nd courses. If there are a few people in your party, make sure you order both. I must note the beef tripe as well, as this is not generally an item I would order. It was well prepared and really was like a noodle dish. I would reserve this for an adventurer. The free range fried egg was done whole and placed on a bed of the most delectable, rich sauce. The leg of lamb was out of this world. It was prepared two ways, a tenderloin and a shred of sorts. Again, the sauces were outstanding. Lastly, the smoked beef tongue with lentils and pickled mushrooms is Hospoda’s specialty. They say many people who do not like tongue have enjoyed this dish. Steve was the guy who volunteered to try it. He felt it was amazing, but there was almost too much on the plate. It was incredibly rich.
We finished with a rather incredible chocolate ganache with raspberry sauce. Tableside, they poured hot chocolate over a large round ball of chocolate. The entire thing melted and bubbled before our eyes. This is a wow. Great effect for a group. And you will be substantially full by the end of this meal from the beer and food, so we recommend sharing this for your entire party.
This was one of the more enjoyable dining experiences we’ve had in quite some time. The friendly and well-trained staff creates a relaxed atmosphere. The mural is a great conversation piece once you discover what’s happening within it. And the food is really top notch. Prices are pretty reasonable for the quality as well. And what’s more fun than beer pairings for the guys? We are going back. Absolutely!