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Out of tune

This is an entry I should have written long ago. The reason why I didn't do it before is that when I went to visit Louis Armstrong I wasn't carrying my cammera, so I promised myself I would go back some day and make photos of the place.

I never did.

Why? You might be asking.

That visit was a distaster. I decided to go to Armstrong because it must be one of the few places in town that stock Litovel, beers with which I wasn't very acquainted. It has two branches, both in Vinohrady, both in quiet streets. I chose the one in Manesová because it was the most convenient for me at the time.

I liked the decoration very much. To many, it might be a bit too much on the kitch side, but I found the jazz theme kind of amusing. When I walked in I took a few seconds to admire the décor. I spotted a table for two in one corner and there I was heading when one of the waiters with a pose, attitude and speaking like a bouncer at a posh disco (though much, much smaller in frame) asked me if I wanted anything. "To have lunch", I answered. Then he asked me if I was alone and when my answered was affirmative, he escorted me to the table I had previously chosen. For a moment I felt like sitting at a nearby table for four, to see his reaction, but I was hungry I couldn't be bothered with the trouble.

His colleague, with a slightly less bullish attitude, brought the menu. Good price, in those days the lunch menu went for 69Kc that would buy you a soup, main course from a choice of four and a drink, which included a small beer.

I went for a classic. Fried mushrooms with potatoes and tartar sauce. The soup that day was a pea cream, nothing remarkable, but did the job. The main course, on the other hand, was awful. The mushrooms were tasteless and the sauce watery, but the medal goes to the potatoes. Is it possible to ruin something so simple as boiled potatoes? It seems that it is in Louis Armstrong. They were so rubbery that I think I could have played a game of squash with them. Maybe there were part of a batch the the late trumpetist cooked on a visit to Prague, because they certainly weren't fresh.

Service didn't improve much during the meal. After I got tired of eating those rubber balls, I put the plate on the side and got no response. Even after I finished my beer neither of them came to ask if I wanted anything else. I am a patient person and I know that sometimes, when the place is really full, it is hard for the service to be on top of everything, even more if you are sitting in some remote corner of the restaurant. But here I was in plain view, and only a couple of tables were taken. The blokes had simply decided to ignore me. Can it be that they don't like long haired men with beards?

If only the beer had been fine. But no, keeping in rythm with the place, it was also horrible. Litovel Premium, pale gold, too much carbonation (I would blame that on the place) and pretty much nothing that could be called a distinctive flavour. Best word to describe it, Eurolager.

For several months I told myself that I would give it another chance, that I should go to the branch in Čermákova, not far from Nám. Míru. But after reading and hearing less than flattering comments about these restaurants, I thought it would be better to save some Crowns and stay with the first, and very bad, impression.

To be avoided

Louis Armstrong
Italská 30 y Čermákova 4
Praga 2

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