Prague Dog Eat Blog

Saturday night live in Prague Infinity music bar

Nov 10, 12:11 (Filed under: Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes, Prague nightlife )

Have you heard about Infinity bar? For me, It’s a shame, because I have been living in Prague for more than three years, and I have never been there, but I heard a lot about it. And it all sounded exciting. Things like: “Infinity? Yes, I know the place, it’s this kind of a night club where girls go hunt guys.”, or “I remember Infinity, last time I was there, a girl came up to me and invited me for a drink.”. Well, It was more than time to check it out.

Infinity Bar Restaurant and music bar Infinity is located very near the shopping centre Flora (metro line A, stop Flora) in the street Chrudimska 2. It’s just the opposite of this shopping centre. I cannot comment the restaurant for we went straight downstairs to the club, which is opened daily, usually until four am. We arrived at around eleven at night and the place was already full, we couldn’t find a free table so we stood at the bar, looking around, drinking Pilsen beer (the .33 bottle cost 45 CZK), my friend ordered draught beer instead, it came in that fancy Stella glass, so I suppose it was Stella, and .33 glass cost 38 CZK. The dance floor was small and at that time still empty. And girls, well, many of them were really beautiful. Ages varied between twenty and thirty five. I’m seeing someone at the moment so I didn’t really try to talk to them. Ok, honestly, the true reason is that I was shy to go talk to the most beautiful girls from the club with faces like from a cover of a magazine. My friend did, though. He was only visiting Prague for 3 days, so he actually insisted on going out and meeting people.

He is this type of guy that enjoys talking to strangers, especially girls, always trying to choose a witty pick-up line, and if a girl dumps him, it only boosts his ego to go try again. It sounds crazy to me, but it’s true. Get this, he comes over to pretty two blondes, and says: „Excuse me ladies, I’m going to ask you something, my friend and I have been looking around and discussing that it looks like all the guys tonight are inviting girls for drinks, so I thought it’s time to do it other way round, so, do you want to get us some drinks?“ If a girl has this kind of sense of humour, she will laugh, if not, she will usually say something hard.

Anyway, to cut it short, he was dumped four times before he exchanged phone numbers with another beauty. On the way home, in the night tram, he told me that he’s leaving tomorrow, so he gave her my number instead. I laughed, but I didn’t get it, it’s fun to have such friends, now I wonder if I receive a message from a beautiful stranger. Well, there is something about this Infinity bar.

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Wine tasting at Prague Mala Strana (Lesser Town)

Nov 4, 01:01 (Filed under: Advice, Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes )

My girlfriend and I discovered a new wine bar, called National House of Wines. We had actually no intention going anywhere, we were only walking around, wandering through these small streets in historical centre of Prague. After we crossed Charles Bridge, and passed McDonald’s, we saw a banner asking us to come and taste wines. We blindly followed it and we were very positively surprised when we entered and took seats. Well, it was not so blind, because it was starting to rain anyway.

We sat in the summer garden, roofed on the sides with a hole in the middle, this hole surrounded by plants. This is very clever because as it was raining lightly at that time, one could hear the drops falling on the roof, dripping down the pipe and into the drain in the middle, and it created glamorous atmosphere. My delight increased when I heard that they were playing Moby’s album Play.

Then the waiter came, actually, he was a sommelier, and he was very polite. I know that tourists sometimes complain about the service in restaurants, shops, etc., but this guy was a professional. We ordered two glasses of white late harvest, and we let the waiter choose one for us. The choice of wines by glass was big (over 40 different Czech wines), and it was quite comfortable to let the expert pick one for you. Plus, the offer of wines in bottles was huge (four hundred Moravian wines).

Prices were another positive surprise. Our Chardonnay 2005 late harvest cost 23 CZK per dl, but early harvest quality wines can be bought for as low as 14 CZK. Draught beer Gambrinus and a bottle of mineral water were sold for 25 CZK each, which for Lesser Town part of the town is cheap. There is also a choice of cheeses, bread and sandwiches.

As we read in the handout, National House of Wines offers wine tasting programs (starting at 199 CZK for 3 white and 3 red wines), where one tastes wines from their collection, commenting it and/or receiving a comment from a sommelier, but for this program, a reservation is needed. This wine bar is opened daily from the noon until ten pm, but we sat there until nearly eleven and waiter didn’t say a word. I excused us for staying late when leaving but he said it was not a problem at all. The place can be found near Charles Bridge at Mala Strana /Lesser Town/, street Mostecka 19.

Enjoy your tasting!

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Experiencing Czech food in Czech restaurant for Czech prices

Aug 31, 10:05 (Filed under: Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes, Personal )

Prague TV tower in Zizkov Today, I finally managed to visit the TV tower at Zizkov and the view was amazing. Maybe even more amazing than those babies that are trying to climb the tower. Anyway, we were really hungry and the tower restaurant was quite expensive. A friend of mine I was with knew a place nearby and he brought us there. The place is called U Houdku and as I later found out, it is well known among students and local people.

The restaurant looks typically Czech with a great mix of people (students, labourers, guys in suits) and every group is discussing something very important. Lot of noise and lot of laugh. There was also a summer garden opened but we stayed inside, we had enough of sun for the day. We ordered the food, there was a sufficient choice of traditional Czech cuisine. The service was ok, well, the waitress was not so polite, but i was more disappointed with the toilets. They were very old and even if they were clean, they looked dirty.

The dish arrived and that was the most pleasant surprise. Large plate full of meat, french fries, and lot of garnish glazed with dressing. I had to drink two beers to wash all that down. I was totally full, although, trust me, i like to eat a lot. We had to sit a for a while and talk and let the stomach digest. Only few minutes passed and both my friend and I were ready to take a nap. It would have been inappropriate, so we ordered a mojito with Bacardi rum (mmm….Bacardi…) to wake up. We were happy. And guess what. I paid 200 CZK for all that including rounding up the bill! I repeat, big meal + two beers + mojito + small tip = 200 CZK divided by 28.5 arrives at 7 EUR. We left, quite satisfied, and I was ready to spread the word. What surprised me even more, many students I mentioned this to already knew the place. Yes, of course, there’s medical faculty students’ hostel just around the corner.

Anyway, if you happen to be in the Zizkov area, which you probably sooner or later will, don’t miss a good dinner. The restaurant U Houdku is situated on the street Borivojova 110, Praha 3 – Zizkov. I am not sure if it’s the easiest way, but I always take metro line A (green) to stop Jiriho z Podebrad, walk around 500 metres down the street called Slavíkova, passing this student’s hostel, at the end of street turning right to street Jezkova, walking up the street a little, and arriving at Borivojova street and restaurant U Houdků. Bon appétit!

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Going for a good cup of coffee at Old Town Square

Aug 25, 09:44 (Filed under: Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes, Advice )

Prague Church of Our Lady before Tyn picture Do you like these tiny and curved streets in the centre of Prague? One can get easily lost there for a moment. However, these streets have their witchcrafts. They hide and show many interesting sites. We just need to explore them.

When i moved to Prague some time ago, I spent a lot of time just wanderring the streets. I was lucky enough to find a place that i’ve been visiting since. It’s called Tynská Literary Café and it is located few steps behind the Church of Our Lady before Tyn in Prague’s Old Town square on the street Týnská 6.

There is a well-known bookstore and a summer garden with comfortable straw chairs as well. The cafe is opened daily until 23. It is often crowded and the prices are more than friendly. There is a perfect mix of law and philosophical faculty students, along with adults, tourists, exchange students and foreigners living in Prague all sharing the passion for books. I don’t, I like the atmosphere, people and the service, though.

When i’m around with someone, we always pop in for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

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Excellent Prague 9 lunch specials. The beauty of Bit Comet. The ass-suckiness of Czech game localisation.

Jun 10, 10:09 (Filed under: Personal, Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes )

Hoo boy… still working on the essays, so I haven’t really been getting out at all. My trips out of the flat are to the Blackbridge mall, the local Electro World, or the pub above the Movie Star in Prague 9 for its excellent lunch specials – appetizer, soup and meal for just CZK 69. Typical Czech pub fare of a high quality. Definitely worth checking out if you ever happen to find yourself between the Cerny Most and Rajska Zahrada metro stations.

Been bitcometting like mad lately – in fact, I got an email from UPC telling me that I’m on the verge of being stung by their Fair User Policy. Once I hit 20 GB of downloaded content, my connection speed will drop from 2 Mbps to 64 kbps. Ouch. I suppose they’ve got to do something to keep people within their limits, but dropping the speed so low seems a bit severe… Ah, well, it’s probably for the best.

Why all the torrenting? Well, to get English versions of games that are fully localized here in the Czech Republic. Man, do these Czech localization companies piss me off. Would it really be that difficult for them to leave the bloody English files in the games they work on? When I called CD Projekt and asked this question they could not have been bigger bitches – “Our target group is gamers on the Czech market, so no, the games we localize have no English because they are for Czechs.”

No shit, Sherlock. When I asked the CD Projekt employee who took my call if it was really that difficult or costly to simply not touch the English language files in the game (after all, I’m assuming that when these companies get these games they get them in English, no?) and add a simple piece of code that will let the user select which version of the game they want to install, or even toggle the language after the game is installed, I got a bit of a “does not compute” silence, a nervous laugh, and a snarky “Our target group is gamers on the Czech market…”.

My suggestion is not exactly rocket science, is it? Well god damn the Czech PC game localisers and the distributors who have seen it fit not to include English versions on the market – and god bless P2P file sharing. And god damn UPC’s FUP. But god bless the patient and kind customer care folk at UPC.

Ah… now that that’s off my chest, it’s back to the essays (the bane of my existence and the reason for my crustiness and lack of entries as of late). These entries will cover non-Blackbridge and non-PC and non-gaming related stuff soon enough – probably full of wedding related stuff…

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Cafe writing, Vicious Circles & Absinthe Time

Apr 25, 11:27 (Filed under: , Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes )

Waking up was mighty rough today. After a pleasant interview for a part-time copy editing position, I decided to stay in the centre as the working day was pretty much over. I bought a cheap notebook and did something I haven’t done for something like a dog’s year ’ I wrote in a caf??. Everything came out in rhymes, mos’ def -initely because I’ve been gorging on hip-hop these days. I reckon I’ll just do the automatic writing thang for a while, jot things down during the week and clean them all up at the weekend. The results don’t matter as much as they used to ’ it just felt real good to write on paper with a good pen.

I used to do this all the time, was kind of manic about it, especially when I first moved to Prague from Brno back in ‘98. Whenever and wherever inspiration struck I’d jot things down, especially during long bus rides into town from Hotel Dum, way out in Modrany, Prague 4. Somewhere in the cellar is a box stuffed with little notebooks chock full of lesson plans, poetry, story ideas, dialogues, sketches, thoughts, credos, etc. Souvenirs from a far more frantic and desperate time, when, after having moved out of Dum, all I wanted was to be left alone in a shitty little room on one of Prague’s (literally) shittiest little streets (somewhere in the older part of Vrsovice) with a bottle of wine, a hefty supply of top-shelf chronic and a bunch of Bics and papers (for rolling and writing).

Sure it’s a bit cliche, and I’ve never bought into that ‘Prague is the New Left Bank/Paris of the (insert era here) ’ bullshit, but goddamnit, writing poetry, fiction, journal entries, or whatever in a cafe, whether in Prague or anywhere else in the world, feels fantastic! I may sound like some kind of born-again illuminating the obvious, but I’d really forgotten just how conducive a cafe or bar can be to writing. Must be all the surrounding activity that gets the juices flowing.

Anyway, this rediscovery took place at Cafe Indigo (Platnerska 11, Prague 1), a cafe whose greatest asset is the fact that its front is all window. Great for people-watching.

After a spell of scribbling, a couple of excellent Gambrinus, and a lackluster Mexican soup, I went to Tulip to catch up with my mate Chris Parsons. Chris’ band, Vicious Circles, has got a neat little website with a few mp3s that are worth a listen or two.

Following a few too many beers at Tulip (for which we were undercharged ’ somewhat of an anomaly as far as Prague bars go), we decided to check out Absinthe Time, a newish bar that specializes in, surprise surprise, absinthe, on Kremencova, a few doors up from U Fleku, across from Nebe. Seeing that it was practically empty, we were about to move on, but were lured in by an extremely attractive redhead in some kind of Peter Pan get-up (all green, natch). The waitresses in this place really are like sirens ’ babe-tastic and singing tourists to shipwreck in terms of both drunkenness and finances. But the presentation is well worth the coin.

The cheapest absinthes are CZK 90 for a 0.04 l shot. Their alcoholic content ranges from 55 to 72%, and their thujon content runs from 4 to 35 mg/l. The priciest shot was somewhere around CZK 200; Chris and I decided to settle for a shot of Absinthe 35, which set us each back CZK 120.

Now, the presentation. The green fairy serving you brings a tray laden with a glass of water, the shot, a thick glass mug (the kind used for, say, Viennese coffee), two cubes of sugar, small tongs, and a perforated spoon with a ridge that enables it to rest on the rim of the mug (I have no idea what you call it, sorry for the crap description). She pours the absinthe into the mug, dips one cube of sugar into it and puts it on a saucer, then soaks the second cube in the shot, places it on the perforated spoon above the absinthe and lights the sugar. After the sugar has finished caramelizing and dripping into the absinthe, your server stirs up the mixture, not with a spoon but by swirling the glass for a minute or two, then pours the concoction back into the shot glass. Then you just sip and let the alcohol and thujon work their voodoo. The water certainly comes in handy, and that first absinthe-soaked cube of sugar makes for a potent little bonbon.

The beer at Absinthe Time is also rather pricey ’ I can’t remember the brand name, but it’s something independent, and quite nice, though it’s not quite worth the CZK 50 the bar charges for a half litre.

With its classy decor, excellent service and good selection Absinthe Time is definitely a welcome addition to Prague’s bar scene. While its prices verge on those of a tourist trap, it’s worth checking out if you’re feeling a bit posh. But be warned, it is definitely not a place for a spot of power drinking.

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Torino 2006 in Prague

Feb 15, 07:02 (Filed under: Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes, Personal )

Enough with the cinema for now. How about TV? I??m not a big fan of the Olympics, but it is nice to watch the games every now and again in the pub, or having them on as background noise at home. In Prague, most pubs with TVs will just leave the games running. I have no idea what??s going on in football, but I??m sure that Prague sports bars like Jagr??s and my personal favourite, Zlata Hvezda (I??m not really a sports bar kind of guy, but the prices, the atmosphere and the waitresses at Zlata Hvezda work for me) have a balance of footie and Torino 2006 action.

It goes without saying that ice hockey matches between the Czechs and anyone else will pull in crowds at any Prague bar with a boob tube. I??m not sure I??ll watch the February 21 match between Canada and the Czech Republic. I tend to get a bit overemotional and I??m not sure why. Perhaps it??s something in the blood. Perhaps it??s because I don??t want to experience this crap again.

I must say, however, that I found this article very pleasant reading. Of course, it is likely that no Czech hockey fan will heed The Dominator??s warning ?? which will make Canadian gold in men??s (and women??s) ice hockey that much sweeter??

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Pizza West is far from the best

Jan 26, 16:58 (Filed under: Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes, Out and About in Prague )

Pizzerias in Prague are nearly as abundant as Chinese fast food joints. From the heart of the city centre to the outer rim of Prague’s periphery, every neighbourhood has at least one ??? if not two. Here in Blackbridge, we’ve got three within walking distance of our place, not including That Gyros Place at the Mall.

And, just like Chinese fast food joints, Prague’s pizzerias run the gamut in terms of quality, style, service, etc. At Namesti Bratri Synku, two extremes of pizza-pie makers sit side by side.

At the upper end of the scale is the mighty Baretta (Belehradska 4 Prague 4), arguably Prague’s most original pizzeria owing to its Native American Indian theme, friendly service and eclectic selection of tasty pizzas. It’s been a while since I’ve been there, but they still seem to attract quite a crowd, based on what I saw yesterday.

A door or two over from Baretta, on the corner of Namesti Bratri Synku and Belehradska, Pizza West represents the low end of the scale of pizzerias. ‘Pizza West is the best’ (that’s what it says on their website)? Bullshit! Gah! Phooey! Ach! How this place, which is something like ten times the size of the magnificent Baretta, gets business is beyond me. It’s so crap that I’m not putting its address here – just take my advice and skip it and go to Baretta. The only reason to go to Pizza West is to kill time while waiting for a table to open up at Baretta.

I’ll admit that I haven’t had Pizza West’s pizza, but based on what Jitka and I experienced yesterday I don’t think I ever will. To start with, the bottled Pilsner (they don’t serve draft beer ??? strike one) was only a few degrees below room temperature (strike two). Ok, the minestrone was proper, chunky tomato-based vegetable soup (as opposed to the bland vegetable soup that most other ‘Italian’ restaurants in Prague have the nerve to call minestrone) and very tasty, but it was served at a few degrees above room temperature (foul ball).

I made the mistake of ordering a beef burrito (at a Czech pizzeria’ man, I can’t believe I was that dumb), which was a crepe filled with Bolognese sauce, with a side of dirt-flavoured beans, rice with some kind of wimpy seasoning and some tomato paste with raw onions that was trying to pass itself off as salsa (note to Pizza West ??? there’s this really amazing herb called cilantro that you should check out). On the whole, the meal had all the appeal of what my cat leaves behind in the litter box after eating too much cheese ? strike three, you’re OUT Pizza West!

Oh, and Jitka’s vegetarian lasagna was not much better. An uninspired stack of lasagna noodles with a frozen vegetable and tomato sauce, covered in eidam, surrounded by a moat of? what??? bechamel sauce? More like flour-and-water sauce.

The lackluster service was about the best thing about Pizza West. For the first time in a long time I was signaling for the bill before finishing my meal ??? such was my haste to get the hell out of there.

Fortunately, our deserts at Radost FX saved our tastebuds somewhat. The double-layer chocolate cake was not all that decadent (if you really want chocolate decadence get Radost’s cheesecake brownie) and the cheesecake was rather stale. Ah well, at least the coffee, the music and, of course, the company were fine.

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Prague Hip-Hop folk and spots: Inside Kru, Soft Bellies, Cross Club

Jan 23, 19:51 (Filed under: Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes, Out and About in Prague )

Holy crap, has it already been 6 days? Last week was fairly action-packed, though my mind was working in bullet-time for most of it.

Things started off great last Monday with a kickass performance at Roxy by Prague??s Inside Kru, a fresh hip-hop outfit that has instilled my faith in Czech hip-hop. Finally, CZ hip-hop with hooks that take the listener by surprise! More importantly, CZ hip-hop that doesn??t simply loop the same bloody hook for five minutes while an MC (or MCs) spits without pause. Inside Kru throws down feelgood chronic sonic science straight out of the school of DJ Shadow with flows almost as rich, lush and smooth as those stamped with MC Solaar’s majestic talents. Check them out the next time you get the chance ?? find out when and where those chances are here.

Staying on a hip-hop tip, another two places worth mentioning in this entry are Soft Bellies and Cross Club. Soft Bellies is a newcomer to Prague??s bar scene. Located on the corner of Biskupska and Biskupsky Dvur, this restaurant/pub tends to get packed pretty quickly with a young, lively mostly expat crowd. The atmosphere is friendly, owing in part to the regulars but mostly to the owner and the staff. The food is great, especially the chicken toasts ?? not your standard slim square fare, but a big honkin double-decker with cheese, mayo, lettuce, tomato and, gasp, bacon. And not those strips of fat that the supermarkets try to pass off as ?English bacon?, but real strips of juicy meat, fried to perfection.

Soft Bellies was where Jitka, myself and a group of friends kicked off Friday night. We then moved on to Cross Club, which is stunning in terms of size, interior design and music (more Dub, Jungle and Raggae flavoured). Although we managed to find a table big enough to accommodate our crew, a walkabout amongst the throngs downstairs nixed any thoughts of dancing. If squirming and pinballing your way through a crowd of wasted kids all night is your idea of a good time, then Cross Club is a great place to be. That??s not really as bad as it sounds ?? the place looks phenomenal and it takes less time to get served at one of the clubs bars than one would expect in such a crowd. How good does it look? Words fail me. It’s better if you see for yourself, without checking the gallery at the club’s website. For Cross Club’s location look here

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A few top "Prague Spots"

Jan 4, 10:02 (Filed under: Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes, Out and About in Prague )

I don’t think I’ve ever done a list in this blog, and it’s a bit late to be doing a “Top x Whatevers of 2005”. But seeing as I’m still waking up and I can’t really keep nicking entries from the Prague Monitor (which is, incidentally, Prague’s Top Online News Source of 2005 IMO), here goes (until Jitka wakes up and we get back to translating history essays):

Top Cafe for Laptop Internet Usage and Private English Lessons: Villa Incognito Cafe

This cool little Vinohrady cafe is heaven for lappy owners and ESL teachers and their students, as well as those who just want to chill over tea, or engage in coffee-fueled conversation. The cafe’s owners and staff are among the nicest people you’re going to meet in Prague. Villa Incognito is currently home to the Poezie a Provokace poetry open mic (second and fourth Sunday of every month, next one takes place January 8, start: 7 pm) and is open to hosting readings, small concerts, movie nights and a variety of other events.

Top Cheers Substitute: U Zpevacku

Every drinker in every city has one – yes, a bar “where everybody knows your name”. Well, maybe not everybody, but the staff and the regulars will certainly make you feel welcome. Veteran expats and a many a local will tell you that this cozy little watering hole used to be more Trainspotting (the book, not the movie) than Cheers, but don’t worry – the joint is Begbie-free, and actually has its own Cliff Claven of sorts (sorry, no names, you’ll just have to find out who I’m talking about for yourself).

Top Bar to Kill Time in While Waiting for the Metro to Start Up: Batalion

Batalion is not the kind of place that you actually plan to go to, you just kind of end up there (and often spend part of the day after wondering how you ended up there, and, plausibly, how you got home). I spent a lot of time in Prague’s “Hard Rock Cafe” when Jitka was in America. It’s everything a rock bar should be: loud, dirty, stupid and a whole lot of drunken fun. This is part of why it makes the list. ‘nuff said.

Top Blackbridge Eatery: Pizzerie Violete

Forget about the pizzas. The lasagna and the tomato soup are the only things on the menu that I find worth ordering, and Jitka is never all that thrilled about her meals at this Prague 9 pizzeria. The service is friendly but, with the exception of one waitress, rather slow. The Stella Artois is always a crisp cold delight, but the coffee is dull face-screwing sludge. So why do we keep going back? Because in Blackbridge, it’s the only place other than McDonald’s, KFC and That Arabic Joint in the Mall that’s worth our hard-earned korunas.

Well, Jitka’s up now, so that brings this little list to an end for now. I am open to requests and suggestions for other top places. For a couple more “Best of Prague” lists, check Prague.tv’s series.

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No more Czech-Chinese takeaway

Nov 9, 12:33 (Filed under: Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes )

After checking out pretty much everything my ‘hood has to offer for a midday meal, I came to realise that Cerny Most sucks ass come lunchtime. There are a few places that offer lunch specials – soup, a main course, and sometimes a drink or desert for less than CZK 100 – a couple of these are Italian, a couple of them Czech. Jitka and I were about to splurge at Violeta, an Italian place that we consider the lesser of the evils here, though it doesn’t have any specials, but slackjawed sloth-like waitstaff and the glass-shaking, nerve-grating howls of a furious infant drove us out of there. (New parents take note: taking your infant offspring to a restaurant is terribly inconsiderate – not only to your fellow diners, but to the baby that’s got to breathe in all the smoke in the place. Those of you who do this should smarten the fuck up and get the kid a sitter).

I would have been more than happy with a falafel sandwich and a plate of baba ganoush (or ganuz? ganus?) in the Blackbridge mall, but our last visit there had left both of us with some pretty nasty indigestion, which was still fresh in Jitka’s memory. So we settled on fast cheap “Chinese” takeaway from Zlaty Orel (Golden Eagle), situated in the mall’s food court.

The best thing about the meal was the rice. Jitka and I joked about the origins of the meat chunks in my “eight treasures”, settling on rat, pigeon, and hedgehog, though it seemed plausible that the place had a very sinister deal going on with the mall’s new petshop. Obvious jokes, sure, but I wasn’t cracking wise when, about a third of the way into my meal, I bit into a chunk that had a taste that immediately brought pigeon – or something worse – to mind. The flavour was absolutely skank-nasty, like something that had just been scraped off a traffic-stained road, plucked out of a piss-filled gutter, or yanked out of a diseased harlot’s crotch.

“Goddamn… sonofa… fu… that is it!,” I said, rubbing my gut with one hand and waving the other hand about angrily, “it’s official! This is the last time I ever pay good money, let alone eat, this cheapass ‘Czechese’ shit again!”

It was not without a little bit of sadness that I made this declaration, but for all the pleasant experiences I’ve had at these places there have been too many manky MSG highs (yesterday’s meal brutally KO’d me), meats of dubious origin, and oceans of grease to give them a second chance. I’ll splash out on the real thing, but not this rubbish that the proprietors of these culinary cesspits have the nerve to serve to a public that really should know better. I’ll take my chances with the Colonel or Ronnie Mac-Dee instead, thank you very much. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a couple of frozen pizzas to heat up.

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A Blind Eye Halloween and a CANZA bash at Fat Boy's Bar.

Nov 2, 12:25 (Filed under: Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes, Personal )

Holy crap, it just never ends?? it’s good to be working a lot, but things seem to be spinning way out of control. I’ve stopped exercising, started chain smoking, cut down on my food intake, firing up my nerves with coffee then numbing them with beer and whiskey (something I never usually touch).

On Tuesday it was the Blind Eye Halloween party. My intentions were good – a beer, a Beam and beat a path back home, but then Steve, Becki and Mike (Freak Parade crew members) showed and my good intentions were shot to hell. So, I stuck around for a couple of joints and several hits off a pipe that supposedly had belonged to Motorhead. I can’t remember who said that, and I’m not sure I believe it, but it was a nice pipe??

So, I went from blazing up to boozing with the biz caz (as in “business casual”) set. Last night started with a couple of beers at Chateau before heading over to Fat Boy’s Bar across the street for a CANZA mixer. I’m not really into the whole networking thing – these kinds of functions have a worse bullshit stink than that of a ballcap and bimbo bar. I mainly went to hang with my mate Oliver, and to get paid for a press release I did for CANZA’s upcoming charity ball (November 26, the same day as Freak Parade’s next Prague gig). Not a bad bar – cute bespectacled barmaids, a surly Slovak barman (who, to his credit, was pretty cool about Oliver and his friend Dominik’s rather intense play-fighting), weak Long Island Ice Teas – but definitely not the kind of place I would make a regular haunt.

And I’ll probably be out again tonight, as Maria, an English friend of mine and Jitka’s from our ELI days, is arriving in Prague this afternoon and will be staying with us until Sunday.

ELI… ah, that takes me back… some day I’ll have to do a bit of reminiscing here about my teaching days. The school sure wasn’t using its current slogan, “With Our Key We Will Even Open Your Tongue”.

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Komercni Banka, Royal Cafe, Tulip Cafe

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

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.

Spot-on comments [4]

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Prague's Taj Mahal

Oct 20, 09:25 (Filed under: Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes )

Last night Jitka and I, along with our mate Oliver and his date Monika, went to the Taj Mahal for dinner. We were all in a celebratory mood and Oliver was jonesing heavily for some Indian food, so we reckoned the Taj would be ideal.

I can’t say I was as thrilled with the place as Prague.tv’s reviewer seemed to be. Yes, the ambiance is pleasant, but the service was kind of rude. Our waiter acted as if he was doing us a favour and I had to fetch him when it came time to pay.

The food was adequate. We started with papadums and a way overpriced assortment of pickles and chutneys – well, that’s what it said on the menu. What we got were wee helpings of mild mango chutney, chili pickle, raw onions in brine, and what seemed like mint and yogurt.

Oliver and Monika also had samosas to start. Also pretty tiny for the price.

There was a lengthy stretch of time between our appetizers and mains, but they were worth the wait. My lamb vindaloo had just the right amount of heat – not enough to make me sweat, but a force to be reckoned with nonetheless. Oliver’s lamb madras was tasty and tangy, like desert in comparison with my meal. Jitka’s vegetable shahi korma was even more of a desert, much to her disappointment as it was far too rich for her to finish. Fortunately Oliver’s dining companion Monika was more than happy to swap half her far tastier vegetable curry for half of Jitka’s korma.

Overall, it was a fairly pleasant experience, but I don’t think I’ll be satisfying my Indian food jones at the Taj Mahal for a long while. Haveli out by Hradcanska metro, with its excellent lunch specials (the Taj Mahal has lunch specials as well for something like CZK 178) and somewhat friendlier service left a better impression on me.

Back to the vindaloo spicing – it really wasn’t as hot as the waiter had warned me it would be. Oliver told me that the meals at Tiger Tiger (which has CZK 100 lunch specials until 3 pm on weekdays) pack more of a punch. As I’ll be in Vinohrady later today, and am in the mood for a culinary challenge, I think I’ll check it out.

Spot-on comments [7]

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