Tweet In the almost 10 years that I've been living in Prague I haven't been into any of the pubs, bars, restaurants or cafés in Wenceslas Square. Those that don't have "tourist trap" written all over, are simply not my kind of places.
The other day, though, I decided to make an exception with Restaurace v Melatrichu, which according to the The Prague Post wants to be a place that not only caters for tourist, but also for locals. At first sight, this can be confirmed by the prices of beer list (more on it later), with the exception of Pilsner Urquell, all beers are below the 40CZK mark a pint.
There are, however, a couple of things that could set some alarms off. The beers are also sold in tupláky, the only people here who drink from 1l glasses are the most obtuse tourists. On top of it, at the entrance to the restaurant the beer list is posted in Russian. Now, I've got absolutely nothing against Russians, but it is well known that, in average, they are by far the biggest spenders among all the nationalities that visit Prague. But well, those are prejudices, and wise is the person who will not be guided by them.
For some reason I expected this restaurant to be on the first floor. It's in the cellar, good, I like underground places better. It's large, spacious, divided into several spaces. I'm sure there are people who like this kind of place, I'm not among them, I find it too impersonal.
I ordered the special. It promised good value for 99CZK. It consisted on Hrstková, a pulse soup that was lovely and a very generous portion of prejt, cabbage and potatoes. The prejt (something like baked stuffing for black pudding) was perhaps a touch too salty, but not bad, the cabbage was just as I like it, a bit crunchy and the potatoes were really well made (it's remarkable how many places can fuck up something as simple as boiled potatoes). As far from sophistication as you can imagine, but it did a great job on a day that couldn't make up its mind whether it wanted to be autumn or winter.
But I hadn't come for the food, the service or the atmosphere. What brought me to Restaurace V Melantrichu was the beer. Besides the aforementioned Urquell (which I bet they still keep due to contractual obligations), they have some of the stuff from K-Brewery, two guest beers Únětická 10º y Permon 11º, that day) and, if that wasn't enough, V Melantrichu is one of the few places that has "its own" beer. It's brewed in Sokolov and it's called Melantrich, they didn't spend too much imagination on the beer's name, perhaps as much as the spent to choose what kind of beer it would be, světlý ležák.
I don't want to contradict what I said the other day, I still believe that in good hands a světlý ležák can be one of the most wonderful drinks anyone can have. But it's also the most common kind of beer in the Czech lands. If the chose to have their own beer, why didn't they have something else brewed? It didn't need to be anything "exotic", a good polotmavé would have done just fine.
Prejudice once again, perhaps Melantrich would turn out to be one of those Czech pale lagers I love so much. I get it in its own glass, head white as if it has just come out of an ad for Persil, very well tapped, not a single bubble in sight in a liquid that is as dark as světlý can be without becoming polotmavé.
When I left the restaurant I wondered if that was what the beer was supposed to be, according to the wishes of the owners or if I had been unlucky and got something from a duff keg or batch.
Either way, I don't think I'll go back to find out. If that is the way the beer is supposed to be, then I know I won't like it, so why bother. Now, if bad luck was the problem, then it would be worse, it would mean that the people of V Melantrichu can't be arsed with giving the proper care to the only one thing that makes them really different from any other restaurant, and that would be pretty stupid.
But well, go see for yourselves. Restaurace V Melantrichu is still a decent alternative to the pubs that appear in the first crawl of Prague: A Pisshead's Pub Guide.
Restaurace V Melantrichu
Václavské náměstí 793/36 - Praha-Nové Město
+420 224 210 127 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Mon-Sat: 11-24 Sun: 11-23
PS: If anyone out there is still wondering about the fate of U Černého Vola, it's official. The lease has been sign with Mr. Benda and this pub will remain the wonderful dive we all love.
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