No one likes being called names, but most are willing to make an exception when it comes to the medieval tavern in Dětenice.
It will take you more than an hour’s drive to get to the tavern, which is located in the Český ráj protected landscape area, half way between Mladá Boleslav and Jičín, but it is worth the journey.
What is so special about this restaurant that people have to book their table even weeks in advance? Besides the interior, which is an imitation of a medieval tavern, it is mainly the staff with their coarse language, the cultural programme and, of course, the food itself.
The first thing that people usually say when they describe the tavern is something like “that’s the place where they use coarse language” and then name some examples.
The medieval Czech expressions that the staff use, like “vochechule” or “hajtro jedna” (for women), “chátro” (for a group of people) or “sedláku” (for men) are hardly translatable. But you can trust me that although these words have different connotations nowadays and are not as rude as they probably used to be in the Middle Ages, a Czech not knowing what the whole project is about may feel very easily offended by this informal language.
Most people just react by smiling or laughing, but some (like one of my friends) are courageous enough to use the same vocabulary when talking to the staff. And the staff seem to enjoy it when you play the game with them.
The rough language helps create the right “medieval” atmosphere, according to the tavern’s website: “Whether they call you a peasant or a farmer’s wife, a knight, a bandit or riff-raff, it’s not because they want to offend you. It’s just that the Middle Ages aren’t the same as the present.”
The whole interior has a medieval look – there is straw tossed all over the floor, walls are decorated with furs and skulls and each of the poorly lit rooms is equipped with several medieval torture devices. Customers sit around large tables and the numerous staff serving them are dressed in period costumes.
One of the things that makes you realize that you did not take a step back in time are the electronic devices that the staff use for taking orders.
All the dishes on the menu are prepared on a grill and will satisfy all meat lovers. Side dishes like corn on the cob, a small loaf of bread and garlic and plum sauces are served with most of the dishes. The tavern also has a choice of platters for two and more people and serves its house-brewed beer (called “chcanky” by the staff). Those who are driving or do not want to drink alcohol can order “naprděná voda” (mineral water). Oh, and one important thing – if you’re expecting cutlery, this is not the right place to go to. But you still need to pay in Czech crowns for your spendings which should not ruin your budget here.
While eating your dinner, you can enjoy the rich cultural programme, which takes place in each of the rooms and involves the burning of witches, belly dancers dancing to the music of medieval music groups or performances by fakirs or swordsmen. These performances are even more attractive as some of the customers are made to participate – for example one my friends was accused of witchcraft and “tortured” while attached to a pillory.
The tavern is open daily from 11am till 11pm, but I strongly recommend the cultural programme which is on every day between 7pm and 10pm, excluding Sundays and Mondays. Fridays and Saturdays are very busy, and although the tavern can seat as many as 750 people, you will need to make a reservation ahead of time.
If you are looking for something more than just an ordinary dinner and have a spare time to spend travelling to Dětenice, you should definitely give this place a try.