Komercni Banka, Royal Cafe, Tulip Cafe

Two thumbs up: Komercni Banka

My bank has wooed me. Well, maybe not exactly wooed – I still find the fact that you have to pay a Czech bank money to close an account outrageous – but at least it’s made Jitka and me feel pretty damn important.

We both have accounts at one of the Komercni Banka branches downtown. Recently we’ve been making a number of changes to these accounts in order to avoid paying some rather exorbitant service charges. A couple of days ago our Relationship Manager (that’s the title on her card) called to remind me that I had to see her in order to sign a bunch of papers to make said changes. I was, I suppose a bit of a dick, as it had been up to me to call her a week before, then I showed up a day later than I had told her I would, about twenty minutes after the bank closed – the day before a state holiday, when most Czech nine-to-fivers close up mental shop and head for the hills.

Not our lovely RM. She was all smiles, polite and professional, grateful for my and Jitka’s business. She was so nice that I felt kind of ashamed for putting off my paper signing and being late. Why oh why can’t the rest of this country’s service industry be this good? And to boot, she gave Jitka and I invitations to some chi-chi KB “meet the clients” function that’s happening next week. This kind of surprised me, as we’re doing well, but not that well. And I just had my business account turned into a regular savings account to save on service charges. Maybe it’ll be a kind of cheapass crackers-and-cheese affair, maybe it’ll be a lot of blah-blah and boredom, or maybe it’ll be a blast. Doesn’t matter because in this case it really is the thought that counts.

One thumb up, one thumb down: the Royal Cafe

On the other side of the spectrum, there’s the Royal Cafe (Myslikova 24, Prague 1). Let me start with the props: this place has got Prague’s best deep fried hermelin (basically camembert or brie – I can’t really tell the difference between the three of them). CZK 60 gets you two breadcrumb encrusted pucks of sweet hot gooey cheese. Add a side of fries and just enough tartar sauce to smother every mouthful and you’ve got yourself a block party of the senses and the soul.

Yes, in my and Jitka’s opinion the Royal Cafe is tops when it comes to fried cheese. But what was that I said about the other side of the spectrum? Oh yeah, that’s right – the waitresses are bubbleheaded disco bitches who radiate more bitterness than a nosy old commie-backing babicka. And they pull the same kind of crap that Cheers pulls when it comes time to pay. That’s right – at the bottom of the bill the DB’s add an item called “Ostatni” (Czech for “Other”). In our case that was an extra 30 koruna. When I asked about it, I got the old “It’s for service” chestnut, but when Jitka chimed in our DB blushed and deleted it, saying “Oh, sorry, I didn’t know you were Czech. We only do this to foreigners.”

Up until then, I had never thought that not tipping could ever feel so good. I hope this entry deprives her and the rest of the Royal Cafe herd of more than just a little blang. Wishful thinking, I suppose, as the fried hermelin is good enough to forgive them this transgression – I’ll just tell them up front not to try pulling this “Ostatni” bullshit on me again.

And then there’s Tulip…

I still don’t really know what all the power and staff problems at Tulip were all about and I don’t really care. I’m just glad it’s open for business again. Things have gotten even odder there and that’s not a bad thing – in fact, it’s pretty cool.

I stopped by last night after a couple of quiet beers at U Zpevacku. I couldn’t help but stop in – the place was absolutely retarded. The crowd seemed a bit wanky – there were a fair number of dudes who looked like they worked in either advertising or time-share sales. A few nouveau-hippie chicks, plenty of regular Joes and Janes, with a few Pepas and Janas in the mix. Lots of smoke and lots of bar staff.

The staff was the one thing that kept me in Tulip for one more beer. It was utter chaos behind the bar. It seemed like anybody who felt like it could just walk back there and play barman. At one point I counted ten “staff members”, one of whom I believe was either the owner or the manager. Every one of them was knocking back drinks and smoking, which kind of amused me and kind of shocked me – speaking from experience on both sides of the bar, that kind of behaviour is unprofessional. A bartender has to be in control and has to command a certain amount of respect from the patrons, not get stoopid with them. Of course, there are exceptional occasions, and perhaps last night was one of them. But there was no respecting most of this lot.

There were two people who seemed to be taking their work seriously: the only female tending bar and a young guy who struck me as being a nervous rookie. The barmaid was the only one I trusted to pour my beer – the rest of them were either too inept or too fucked up to pull a decent Gambrinus.

That said, I kinda like this brash rollicking bollocking new Tulip. If the Tulip Cafe were a band, it would be the Kaiser Chiefs: somewhat derivative, quite chaotic, extremely loud, rather silly and a hell of a lot of fun.

Oct 28, 10:11 (Filed under: Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes, Prague nightlife )

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  1. You cannot compare Tulip and it’s rude inept and incompetant staff to a band as wonderous as the Kaiser Chiefs. There is nothing fun about waiting 40 minutes for a beer.

    Go and wash your mouth out with flat Gambrinus!

    Thats all i have to say on the matter.
    coco    Nov 7, 09:49    #
  2. Good to hear from you coco – though we tend to disagree on bars, it’s always nice to get a balanced view.

    I can’t call the Kaiser Chiefs “wonderous” though. Like Franz Ferdinand, they’re rather disposable flavour-of-the-month stuff. Fun yes, but the closest they get to “wonderous” is by being compared to the Wonder Stuff (Eight-Legged Groove Machine is still a fantastic album, but where are the Wonder Stuff?).

    Speaking of the Wonderstuff, I saw them live in Ottawa on their Never Loved Elvis tour. They were arrogant twats who didn’t deserve the crowd they were playing to, let alone the shitty little venue they were playing in. Any artist that tells an adoring fan, “Fuck off we’re not fucking taking requests” can piss off back to obscurity.

    Oh yes I’m stressed, I’m sorry I digressed…
    Patrick    Nov 7, 10:26    #
  3. Yes but the fan was asking for a madonna song. I bet the barenaked ladies would never have done that.

    I reckon that KC have another good album in them yet. But only time will tell, and when I am proved correct you may take me out and buy me a drink in a bar of my choice. I could torture you by choosing somewhere really poncey that plays nothing but euro trash but luckily for you I’ve changed my mind about blind eye. I actually quite like it now…. the good experiences started to outweigh the bad
    coco    Nov 7, 12:32    #
  4. Ha ha… Actually, I think the fan was asking for one of the hits off the first album. I would have rather heard them do a Madonna cover as opposed to anything off of Never Loved Elvis.

    Don’t speak to me of the Barenaked Ladies – they’re almost as rash-inducing as Hootie Nouveau… erm, I mean Maroon 5. Definitely the unsexiest band on the planet – even Monkey Business has mo’ mojo than the Ladies and Maroon 5 put together.

    Regarding KC, I suppose that when I am proved correct you’re going to be buying me a drink in a bar of my choice… sigh… it probably would be Blind Eye as I really haven’t been getting out to very many new places and I don’t think it would be very cool of me to subject you to the terrors of Tulip. Though I might if I’ve got to listen to an album full of songs as annoying as the new Franz Ferdinand single.
    Patrick    Nov 7, 12:48    #