27 Oct 2008

What was its name?

In the six and a half years that I've been living in Prague I must have walked past the door of U Benedicta thousands of times, and not only once I must have thought of going in. There is no clear reason for that. Yeah, it is one of the many restaurants in Prague that won't catch your attention, but I've been to many others that will catch it even less. It isn't very attractive, but I've been to many others that looked even worse. So it wasn't until someone in one of the travellers forums I contribute asked about it that I took notice of its existence. Even then, it took me several months to remember to go.

U Benedikta is located in an rather dark alley metres from Revoluční, pretty much behind Kotva Stores. There isn't much foot traffic, or traffic of any kind actually. The decoration is gloomy. It wants to be traditional or rustic, but actually looks tired, as if nobody has bothered to refresh it for the last 15 years or so.

I was lucky on the day that I finally remembered to go. Zvěřinové Hody, anounced a sign on the door. I love game meat (zvěřina) and the hody (feast) menu had enough of it to quench any apetite. There was stuff from venison, boar and pheasant.

I chose a table in a corner, by the window. A pretty friendly bloke, who looked like the owner, brought me the menu and asked me what I was going to drink. Bernard 14°. It was brought by a waitress that looked as if she hadn't slept well or enough the night before. She also took my order for lunch.
My venison guláš was on my table very fast. I must say it was very, very good. The sauce had the right thickness, it was very rich and slightly spicy. The meat was very tender and had been stewed really well, the typical taste of venison could still be very well felt behind the sauce. The špekové knedlíky (basically, bread knedlíky with added bacon in the mix), despite not being home made, were also good, and proved to be of invaluable help to clean the plate of the very last drop of sauce.
What was out of tune was the beer, though. I don't remember having ever drunk Bernard 14°, at least not in the last couple of years. Used to the personality and character of all the beers from Pivovar Humpolec, this one was a disappointment. Everything in it was flat, it tasted as something put together in a rush. This could be blamed on something else. Czech beer wisdom says that the quality of a beer depends 50% of who brews it and 50% on who taps it. I don't think this 14° is the most tapped beer at U Benedikta, a place where I don't think much beer is tapped to begin with. It could have been that the barrel had been tapped already too many days ago and the beer had lost much of its "energy", as it happens many times. Maybe I should have ordered the Černé. Anyway, I would like to drink it again, be it bottled or tapped somewhere were is treated with some more care.

It is hard to evaluate this restaurant. I liked the food very much, one of the best venison guláš I'd ever had, but the atmosphere of the place (and the poor beer) didn't convice me much. Still, compared to many other nearby alternatives, it is not a bad choice for a quick lunch at a good price. When I left I got the impression that, if I was a few years older I could could have enjoyed it more. Maybe I will go back some day, if I remember, because I already have some trouble remembering the name.

Na Zdraví!

Restaurant U Benedikta
Benediktská 722/11
Prague 1

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5 comments:

  1. yeah, i have been past so many times and never been in and Bernard is as common as Gambac these days. Better option must be Mezibranska cafe, right near the horse on vaclak, they have 14 Bernard and its a nice student place, similar to Literarni Kavarna.

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  2. I know which one you mean. And it is another one of those places that I've seen a million times, but never bothered to go in. In this case is the dodgy location, I hardly ever walk on that side of the street. Will keep it in mind, though.
    PS: I don't really think Bernard is as common as Gambáč these days, but, wouldn't it be nice if it were?

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  3. As long as Bernard never becomes as bad as Gambrinus then that's fine!

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  4. Ahoj. "THE SHEFFIELD TAP" at the Sheffield Railway Station, been opened now since Wednesday. Modern new bar, financed by Bernard CZ Brewery, three Bernard beers on draught. 3,4, and 5.1 Cerny what I drink. Doing well, part owner worked at Brewery producing Norbert in Praha, another one of my favourites.

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  5. Terry!

    That's fantastic news!!!! Way to go Bernie!!!

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