In our travels around on the Harley, particularly in the Prague area, Lucie and I always keep our eyes peeled for “likely” looking places where we can stop for lunch when we are out for our rides.
A full car park is not always an indicator that the food and/or service is great. A lot of places, particularly at, or close to, “tourist” hot-spots are usually crowded – but that is no guarantee of quality food or value-for-money. Quite often, sadly, it is the reverse, because the very position will always draw a crowd and that means no great efforts are made. It can be a bit hit and miss, I am afraid.
Over time, we have made a note of places that have pleased us and we happily return to them from time to time. Other places failed our criteria and we do not care to darken their doorways again. The research, however, is always ongoing.
There is a delightful word, “serendipity”. This derives from a tale by a chap called Horace Walpole entitled “The Three Princes Of Serendip”. The characters in the title enjoy unlooked-for good fortune – it just sort of happens to them by accident. I do not think it an inappropriate comparison to describe our discovery of Pension Lívanec as “serendipity”.
Here is how we found it.
If you are only interested in the restaurant review, you can skip this bit !
Every year, there is a motorcycle event called “The Harley Challenge” in which Lucie and I take part. Starting from and organised by, the Harley Davidson Prague dealership, in Prague 5, the object is to navigate around a number of widely spaced points and arrive back at the dealership having covered the shortest possible distance on legal roads. Contestants pay an entry fee. Half goes into a prize fund and the remaining half goes to a selected charity. You get given a “Roadbook” which has all the points but, obviously, not in the right order and a single space wherein fits an address drawn from several in a hat and you hand write it in.
Obviously, modern Satellite Navigation help here and the real trick lies in selecting the order in which the listed points are visited. The checkpoints are selected by the redoubtable Martin Cieslar, who I have mentioned elsewhere – and he is beyond reproach, blandishment or even outright bribery !
Being for charity, the event is open to machines of all makes (and has twice been won by a lady on a moped (!!)) but it is predominantly Harleys. It is fiercely contested, one year the winner was only a couple of hundred metres ahead of the rider in second place. Lucie and I give it our all but usually only manage a “close, but no cigar” placing. When you set off, you know that a mistake in checkpoint order selection or the tiniest error in route planning (even if you get the order right), instantly transforms the “contest” into a ride, albeit a pleasant one, in the countryside around Prague.
In 2022, Lucie and I gave our route planning a real go – and that took a little bit longer than we usually spend doing it. Strangely, because Martin, God love him, has a devious streak, the initial section of the route seemed obvious, so off we went. Sadly, our earlier diligence was to cost us – and not just us – any chance of victory !
We soon came to a point in the countryside where there seemed to be a lot of Harleys in “milling about” mode. We found out that part of what was the only obvious route had just been closed for a bicycle road race event !!! I suppose that there was no possible way Martin could have known this, it was a “local” thing after all, but, when we pulled up to replan our route, we knew all hope of victory was gone. One of the “early birds”, who had gone through before the road closure, would be grabbing the prize ! Of course we still tried, who knew if ALL of those who had made it through would not make some catastrophic mistake, but we became far more relaxed about it. It was a nice day and, after a distance killing detour, we rejoined our planned route and enjoyed the rest of our ride around the specified points. This included the “Stop Point” noted at number 3 on the roadbook, the courtyard of the Zámek (stately home/ruin) in Rožmitál. Refreshments were on offer and we all relaxed a bit.
Finally, Lucie and I came to the final checkpoint on our list, merely a street address in the small town of Horní Bezděkov.
The checkpoint was outside a fairly substantial, whitish building. Obviously, a restaurant of some kind, or rather restaurant-to-be, as there was evidence of recent building work and the paint on the facade was sparkling fresh. I noted that it was to be both “Penzion Lívanec” and also “Bistro Lívanec”. As “Lívanec” is the Czech word for a type of pancake, to which I am somewhat partial (particularly in its plural (or, better still, multiple) form “Lívance”), this would have really perked my interest, had it only been open.
We sat outside and, as usual, Lucie used the lull for a cigarette break. This is where the “serendipity” enters the equation. As we were preparing to leave, a guy (that we now know to be the owner) came out and started fiddling with a the lavender plants by the door. My botanically inclined wife engaged him in some form of Czech conversation which I did not fully understand, but which had a friendly tone. When he popped back inside, she told me that it would be opening as a penzion/bistro couple of weeks later, that the specialities would be Lívance (see above) and that there would be a lovely garden at the back. Ideal, she asserted, for lunch on a Summer’s day. We decided, on the spot, that we would certainly return.
We set of back to Prague and a disappointing placing in the challenge. The girl on the scooter had also blown it this time. The winner, a certain Michal Pivec, helped himself to a handy 48,925 Czech Crowns. As I mentioned, the chosen charity gets half the entry fees, plus the proceeds from the refreshment sales at the halfway point, so “Nedoklubko” which helps those with premature babies, scooped a nice 79,936 Czech Crowns to help its sterling work !
So Summer came as it usually does. One Wednesday, when we were both at a slightly looser end than usual, we decided to pop out for lunch. Time to try “Bistro Lívanec”, we decided.
Our destination lay to the West of the city so we cut through the town and headed out on the fairly main exit route towards the western suburb of Bilá Hora. There we actively avoided the the westbound D6 motorway (which you could also use to get close). We chose instead to head under the motorway interchange (Prague’s very own “Spaghetti Junction”) and take the lesser Road 606 through the small town of Hostivice and out through the countryside. At a roundabout, we took Road 201 towards the towns of Unhošť and our destination in Horní Beždekov. Be careful in Unhošť, the signing is not very clear …. (Yes ! Tou guessed it, I missed the turning and went slightly wrong !).
When you enter Horní Bězdekov, from Prague, the Bistro is on the right, by the bus stop, just past the local town hall. There is a small car park in the road immediately after the end of the building. From the centre of Prague it is less than 30 kilometres.
We were greeted in a very friendly way by the staff who, despite the slightly rural location, spoke fairly good English and were directed through the restaurant (you could eat inside) and through the penzion to the outside seating area.
As promised, there is a lovely garden, somewhat stylishly equipped with clever ornamentation and planting. There is both open and covered seating and an outside barbecue area. The owner, supervising a craftsman, obviously remembered us and came to say “Hello”.
The lunch menu is quite short and to the point, but it was explained to us that the rationale was deliberately NOT to be a village pub where you go for fried cheese or schnitzel.
I forgot to snap it, sorry ! There is a wider choice in the evenings, but again, not a huge one. The emphasis is very firmly on quality as opposed to quantity or large variety.
A lívanec, as I said earlier, is a smaller, rounder and somewhat thicker version of a pancake.
I chose a savoury dish, with eggs and bacon providing the topping on my pancake together with a little bit of green salad and a rather startlingly coloured piece of broccoli (still crisp and delicious).
Lucie chose something sweet (surprise, surprise !) opting for the version topped with sliced nectarine, berries and some thick, thick chocolate sauce !
I was offered a mouthful. It was so yummy that I was tempted to steal more, or even even all of it or maybe have a second one myself.
In truth though, both our meals, although not huge, were both satisfying and filling.
As usual, I had an alcohol free beer, the normal version of Birell was on offer.
Lucie tried one of the versions of home-made lemonade which came in its own stylish bottle. How the cucumber got in undamaged I can only guess !
There is a second alcohol free beer available, but this is the plum flavoured (yes, plum !) offering from the Bernard brewery. The owner likes it, indeed he recommended it. There is nothing wrong with it, per-se, but it is not quite to my personal taste.
If you are not driving, it is a penzion so you could stay there, there is a good selection of real beers, cider and good wines.
The penzion, where there is also often live music, would make a good base from which to hike the routes in picturesque the local area. A helpful signpost outside points these out.
Tempting as it was to sit there all afternoon (or maybe until I had developed stomach space for a sweet pancake), we could not. We got back onto the Fat Boy and were home in less than 30 minutes despite riding in a leisurely fashion !
Penzion / Bistro Lívanec
Hlavní 40, 273 51 Horní Bezděkov
NOTE: At time of writing, the Street View on Google Maps™ shows the building in its previous form. Time for a “drive-by” Google guys !