22 Mar 2010

Progress Report

I'm sure many of you are wondering how the project of my book is going, specially those who have generously donated to the cause. Fear not! Here is the second (and very belated) progress report.

The first words have been forged into bytes and I've already set up a work schedule that I hope (and doubt) I'll be able to keep. At the same time, research goes on and still provides something to talk about. Today is about a myth busted, popular wisdom confirmed and a pleasant surprise.

The myth busted: "Service at Prague's pubs, etc. is crap". Or at least that is the impression you will get after reading many an expat restaurant review or forum thread. It's bollocks! OK, I'm not going to say that you won't come across bad service in this city, but the same happens in every city and tourist spot in the world.

These last few months I have visited many places I had never been to before, and almost without exception I've found the service to be efficient, proper and professional, and more than once, even genuinely friendly. Take as an example the girl tending the bar at this small café lost in the backstreets of Vinohrady (or is it already Žižkov?) that sells the fine beers of Polička. One rainy afternoon I stopped there to have a tmavé výčepní that arrived very well tapped, sporting a lovely looking thick head. I took a few moments to admire it and the girl said something I didn't quite catch, to which I responded with compliments to her work as "výčepník", this resulted in an even broader smile and the consequent short chat about the beer and the crappy weather.

Many times good service doesn't come alone, of course, it helps a lot to smile, be polite, learn at least a handful of words in Czech and, above all, no to have that "I own the place" attitude I've seen in many patrons. They end up getting bad service, and they bloody well deserve it!

Popular wisdom confirmed: "The quality of a pint depends on equal parts on the person that makes it and the person that taps it". A great truth! There are mediocre beers that in good hands can be brilliant, and brilliant beers that in the wrong hands can become mediocre, if not worse. The best example of this is Svijanský Máz. This jedenáctká has always been my least favourite beer from Pivovar Svijany, and lately, I have noticed a drop in its quality that can be related to the extraordinary expansion of this very successful regional brewer (it is their best selling product). Still, when I had it at Baráčnická Rychta I thought it was wonderful. On the other hand, when I visted Café Jehuda, in Blanická, near Nám. Míru, it was so horribly tapped that it bordered the undrinkable. A pity, because the place itself is not too shabby.

A pleasant surprise: Coming from Pivovar Žatec, whom have strongly, and I think deservedly, critised in the past. Now, in Prague, there are at least four places that offer their beers, at two of them I had their Kvasnicová 12º (actually, nefiltrovaná) and it's so good! A lot of fresh fruit with a touch of honey and fresh bread, all spiced with a herbal-floral note that wraps everything up. It's impossible to have just one. It made me really glad, specially because I liked one of those places very much, and it's one of those that open early.

I'm very satisfied with the way this project is going, it's giving me a lot of satisfaction. Once again, loads of thanks to those who are helping me finance it, you are great motivation!

Na Zdraví!

Travel to the Czech Republic and stay at the best Prague Hotels

5 comments:

  1. With Kvasnicová 12 from Žatec being my current favorite, could you spare locations of those places tapping it ? I know of Bistro u Baronky in Dejvice, a sometimes-too-smoky-but-pleasant-mainly-for-partons-bar. What are the others (i failed to nail them down on beerborec.cz, that site needs a proper beer map)

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  2. We agree. The waiters at U Fleku are incredibly annoying, though.

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  3. I also agree with you on the waiters. Most places I have been to in Prague have had very good service.

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  4. Karel, the other place that taps Žatec nefiltrované is a café near Narodní Třída in Opatovická

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  5. Rychtar's unfiltered 'Natur' is quite good too, they serve it at a newly opened cafe 'Sladkovsky' at the corner of Sevastopolska and Cernomorska in Vrsovice, along with Lobkowicz (which is, I suppose, decent as well). It's also a nice place to visit in its own right - good coffee, nice atmosphere, some tapas-style food and breakfast.

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