14 Mar 2008

Those good old days!

The year is 2002, Euro and USD over 30CZK. New in my Prague life. Adapting, meeting new people. Drinking a lot of beer, 6-8 pints the average on a weekday, who knows how much at the weekend. In those crazy days going to a hospoda and having lunch for less than 100CZK was par for the course, and it wasn't at all hard to find places where the price for half litre of dvanactká was 20CZK.

Now, in 2008, Euro at 25CZK and the Greenback at 16CZK. Almost six years in Prague. Adapting to my new home and getting to know the new nieghbours. I still drink beer, but much, much less than back then. Occasionally things get a bit out of control and I have 8 pints in one afternoon. Nowadays having lunch for 100CZK is a nice remembrance, and I can consider myself lucky if find a place where to have a pint of dvanacká at 30CZK. Or no...

Libeň, for reasons that are evident to those who live here, is not on the must-see list for visitors. The area around Palmovka metro station is no exception, despite the attractive baroque Libeňský Zámeček, the interesting Art Nouveau structure of the local Sokol and the surprising church of Sv. Vojtěch, built in wood.

At about 200m from the chateau, in Nam. Dr. V Holého is Restaurace U Rokytky, a real neighbourhood place if there was ever any.

The casual visitor will be forgiven to walk past it without a second look, but they will be making a mistake. It is true that the chances of anyone speaking a language other than Czech are less than those of finding life in Mercury, but that doesn't mean that it isn't worth to wake up the adventurer in us and walk in.

What will welcome you won't be very encouraging. A bar with some tables in front, very smoky and with patrons who seem to live in beer and cheap liquor. The main room, however, has an atmosphere more akin to a family friendly place than to a corner hospoda. It is spacious, luminous thanks to three very big windows, and very clean.

The prices of the lunch menu are almost relics. It's mostly classics of neighbourhood cuisine, but of pretty good quality for those who like this kind of cooking. I've had some very good guláš and svíčkova and once some really tasty plňené bramborové knedlíky (potato knedlíky stuffed with smoked meat). The choice on the menu is relatively big. There is the possibility of choosing individual meals or any of the three daily specials of soup, main course and dessert (which you actually won't want to try) for 70 or 75CZK.

The price for beer is also almost a relic. 20CZK for a pint of very well drafted Svijanský Rytíř, while a pint of Gambrinus 10° next door will cost you 25CZK, and guess which is the better brew. They stock the whole line from my household brewery, and the most you will pay is 25CZK for half litre of Baron 15°.

Having a good, typical, three course Czech lunch (soup, main and pivo) for less than 100CZK is not an utopia from the past anymore.

People who have been to U Rokytky out of the lunch hours have told me that it is a pretty pleasant and quite place, at least in the afternoon; very nice to sit and enjoy any of the very good beers that Svijany brews.

The service is efficient, prompt and professional. But don't expect any smiles or effusive welcomes. The tab, as it is traditional, is kept on a slip of paper on your table. At the end of your meal or evening, don't bother to get the attention of the waiters to pay, just get up and pay to the cashier by the door.

It isn't difficult to reach. Just take tram 24 from the centre, or 10 or 25 from other places in Prague. Get off at Palmovka and walk following the tram to Nám. Dr. V. Holého. There turn right and go towards the smokestack. Right opposite, you will find this nice culinary skanzen.

Restaurace U Rokytky
Nám. Dr. V Holého 7
Praga 8 - Libeň

7 comments:

  1. Another excellent blog about pivnices in teh suburbs of Prague.
    You are giving me many ideas for my next trip to Prague. I will be staying in Holesovice, near to this hospoda.
    Do you know of hospodas in Prague that sell Herold dark on tap? There is one mentioned in Evan Rail's book.
    Mike004

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  2. Thanks for the words, and Im glad that I am helping you somehow.
    There is that place that has Herold on tap, Divči Skok. It is on the way to de Airport from Dejvice, in a place called Divoká Šárka.
    I was there once, but that was a LONG time ago, they had Herold back then. I haven't been since. It can be that they still tap it, but I would have to check it out, the pubs section in Evan's book is out of date with some places. I promised myself I would go once the weather gets warmer and friendlier to be around there.

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  3. Great post, Max. Could I point out this significance of the smokestack across the street from U Rokytky? That's the old Libeň brewery. Pity we can't get that beer anymore.

    As for Herold Dark, it really is a lovely brew, winning first place at Česká pivní pečeť Tábor this year.

    Unfortunately, Herold has pulled back from tap beer due to the expense. (And the Bastard pub in GBGP&CR closed right after the book went to press.) However, Divčí Skok should still carry it.

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  4. >And the Bastard pub in GBGP&CR closed right after the book went to press.) <
    Damn! I was looking forward to visiting that pub.

    >However, Divčí Skok should still carry it.<
    OK. It might be a bit far out if I am stretched for time. But I have had Herold dark at Pivovarsky Klub last year.

    I have been using your book & this site to plan a few "pub crawls" in some of the suburbs of Prague I have not visited before -- Holesovice, Dejvicka, Liben, Pankrac etc.
    Thanks
    Mike004

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  5. 2002 good ole' days? Try the early nineties! Excellent draugt lager for 9,5Kc/0,5l metroride 8Kc, CD's 150Kc... at a rate of 34KC for 10euro/$. Well you have to take in inflation off course...
    Excellent blog you keep up here. Pleasure to read.

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  6. fr,
    you couldn't be any more right. I was not here back then, and I know how much cheaper everything was. On the other hand, Ive also heard the food was rubbish in the early nineties. So I think it all evens out :)
    And thanks a lot for the compliments. I'm glad you enjoy my blog

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  7. Lovely place. The patrons seem to relish in the choice of beers they are given. In the afternoon a very civilised environment to be in, will temp me up to Prague more frequently!

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