Remembrance and Refreshment
The bravery and sacrifice of the many Czechoslovaks who, at great personal risk, left their homeland to bolster the Allied ranks against Axis forces in the Second Word War is a point of pride for many Czechs and Slovaks today.
Without a doubt, the story of the airmen who travelled to Great Britain to fly with the Royal Air Force is the best known of the Czechoslovak contributions to the Allied cause in the conflict. A number of museums across the country have exhibits on those airmen and there is the winged lion monument in the Klárov district of Prague that is dedicated to them.
If you travel to the second biggest city in the country, Brno, you can visit the Air Café in the centre of the city and enjoy drinks and food while immersing yourself in the ambience that comes with being surrounded by a small museum’s worth of Second World War artefacts and paraphernalia dedicated to the Czechoslovak pilots.
Approximately 30 kilometers south-west of Brno, you’ll find the small city of Ivančice. It’s a decidedly non-touristy place and its main claim to fame beyond Czech Borders is as the birthplace of famed Art Nouveau painter, Alfons Mucha (1860-1939). However, it is also home to a combination museum and restaurant called RAF House that’s very much worth the trip there to visit.
Located in a brick building near the edge of the city, RAF House has the look of a building that could have come directly from a WWII era RAF flying station if it were not for the prominent metal letters spelling “RAF” on the facade echoing the riveted construction of aircraft of the era.
I first learned of the existence of RAF house in early 2020 when someone posted some pictures of a very unique looking restaurant with an aviation theme on one of the online forums I frequent. They gave no information for where it was, so I did a bit of internet searching based on one of the photos and quickly found it was not only in the Czech Republic but was an easy trip from where I live in Brno. In that moment, I knew I had to visit. In June of 2020, that visit was made.
Walking up to the main entrance of the solid brick building and taking in the aforementioned metal “RAF” letters on the facade as well as the placards near the entrance that are filled with names of the Czechoslovaks who served in the RAF during WWII, it’s quite clear that a good deal of thought and passion was put into this place.
Once inside, I found myself in a corridor with a rustic looking restaurant section to the left and an aviation museum and lounge to the right. The museum is named after General Emil Boček (1923-), a resident of Brno and the last known surviving of the Czechoslovak airmen who flew in the RAF.
The museum consists of display cases full of photos, flying gear and instruments, uniforms, personal effects and much more connected to the RAF Czechoslovak airmen.
The focal point of the lounge is a wall mural of a Spitfire fighter in the markings of 310 Squadron, one of the Czechoslovak RAF squadrons. The wing of the Spitfire extends from the wall and forms a very unique dining table. The chairs that surround the table are modelled on a Spitfire seat.
The lounge also features a leather sofa and chair set that surround a coffee table that uses a radial aircraft engine for a base. There are also some pub type tables around and some evocative black and white period photographs on the walls.
When one looks across to the restaurant section, it becomes clear that wine is as much a passion as aviation at RAF House. This part of the establishment has a wine bar at the heart of it and is clearly set up to host wine tasting events as well as being a restaurant
The wine connection is no surprize as two of the restaurant’s three founders are wine makers and use the restaurant as a prime point of sale for their RAF brand wine. The labelling on their wine bottles is on a clear aviation theme, and the “RAF” in their wine brand comes from their surnames, Rajníc and Fischer, as well as Royal Air Force.
There is also an events hall in the building that can be rented for special occaisions.
Enough Banter, Let’s Eat!
Like many Czech restaurants, RAF house provides a daily lunch menu in addition to their standing menu.
The standing menu is presented on a set of cards that fan out from a central hinge point and has both Czech and English languages on it. The menu is comprised of hearty traditional dishes as well as some house specialities. A selection of the aforementioned wine as well as good quality Czech draft beer or Guinness are also on the menu to wash the food down with. There is also a respectable selection of spirits on offer as well. On the back of each card in the menu is a WWII era photo related to the Czechoslovak airmen.
I chose the fish and chips as my main course with a large draft Pilsner to accompany it. I followed it up with the house special RAF chocolate cake and coffee. Everything was delicious and the English style fish and chips seemed the appropriate meal to eat given that the famous white cliffs of Dover make up the background of the Spitfire wall mural.
I enjoyed my meal on the Spitfire wing table and I must say that it lent a very evocative feel and ambience to my dining experience.
The service, as well as the food, was excellent. Both servers who attended to me on my visit spoke English to a respectable standard.
Paying a Visit
If you are travelling to Ivančice from Brno, the trip can be made by car in around 30 minutes. There is also bus and train service between the cities that takes about an hour or so. If you travel by bus or train, you will need to transfer at least once on the way.
As RAF House is on the edge of town, the bus and train stations in Ivančice are not particularly close to it. However, it is a fairly straightforward walk to the restaurant from either station. Walking from the bus station, which is near the main square of the town, I was able to reach RAF House on foot in about half an hour. It wasn’t a demanding walk as it was mostly on flat ground with pedestrian paving all along the way. As long as the weather is good, this could be a nice way for you to build your appetite enroute to the restaurant.
With the close proximity of Brno to Ivančice, it is possible to find taxi service between the two. However, Czech taxis have a reputation for being very expensive and I would not recommend that option unless you speak Czech proficiently or are travelling with a Czech native who can act as an intermediary between you and the taxi company and driver.
I noted there was a local public transportation stop near the restaurant, but a quick look at the schedule showed that the bus runs only once an hour, so may not be the best option for getting there.