The face of King Street, Newtown is perpetually changing it’s colours. Shops, restaurants and cafés constantly come and go and it’s as if every couple of months there’s a place that has its windows covered in newspaper before being reopened as something new. The top of King Street used to have a place called Giraffe Wrap Bar, a little joint that did exactly that, wraps. I’m sure it only lasted 6 months before being sold and reopened as The Mad Greek, a cheap and cheerful Mediterranean café that also had a very short shelf life.
Next to open at 124 King Street is this – Cheeky Czech – an equally cheerful and cheap restaurant that has had my business a couple of times and probably will again thanks to the huge portions of delicious Eastern European stodge. Love it. It’s a small place with a mix of regular tables and a communal one at the rear with the kitchen smack-dab in the middle offering views of the cooks in action. You’ve got to love the wheelie bin that has been transformed into a boom-box belting out 80’s classics for the oldies like me.
An eclectic menu has some not-very-Czech $10 pizzas and Turkish roll burgers but if you skip past these you’ll find the traditional favourites that got my attention. Schnitzel, Sydneys “best” goulash and other meaty delights all of which come with bread dumplings and/or braised red or white cabbage.
The $5 starters are an absolute bargain and just the perfect size to compile and nibble on before the mains. A chorizo and csabai sausage platter (5) is joined with bits of cornichon, cherry tomatoes, cream cheese and toasted Turkish bread and the garlic & chilli prawn skewer (5) is absolutely divine. There’s also Czech meatballs, grilled halloumi (5) and a bunch of other tiny treats.
Slow roasted duck (22) sounded like just the thing when it was spotted on the specials board – half a bird with sweet and lightly spiced braised red cabbage, potato dumplings and stewed apples. Just beautiful. And equally so is the Prague beef roll-up (15) that sits in a pool of sauce that it was slowly cooking in for hours. Inside the roll is a collection of speck, pickles, onion, mustard and chorizo and a choice of rice or potato pancakes will help soak up those gorgeous juices.
Potato dumplings and red cabbage snuggle beside some tenderly herbed joints of roasted rabbit (19) with just a tad roasting juices to keep it all nice and moist. Another Eastern European classic is the stuffed pepper (15) and at Cheeky it’s filled with seasoned minced pork and rice before being braised on vege’s and tomato and served in the same puréed sauce.
Jars of small cakes and cookies line the kitchen counter and despite not being traditionally Czech the lemon cookie (6) and the scroll-like stuffed monkey (6.5) were more sugar hit than anything else. I reckon a coffee would have been more appropriate than the suggested scoop of icecream. Maybe one day some svestkove knedliky (fruit dumplings) will make it to the specials board?