Monday, December 14, 2009

Restaurant Review: Lokál





The newest, best, most must-visit restaurant in the country doesn't have a celebrity chef. It doesn't have white tablecloths, amuses-bouche, or a sommelier. Instead of soufflés, there's smažený sýr (fried cheese); tlačenka (head cheese) takes the place of truffles.

This is Lokál, and it's the restaurant we've all been waiting for.

I probably don't have to tell you how miserable most Czech pub food is these days. The average inexpensive svíčková (beef in cream sauce) goes something like this: a rock-hard, dry piece of beef, smothered in a watery brown sauce, with a few stale knedlíky (bread dumplings) on the side. No wonder so many foreign visitors shudder at the memory of Czech food.

Those of us who didn't grow up weaned on the Maggi bottle, whose mothers and grandmothers cooked their national dishes with pride, know a different kind of local cuisine – one that lives on in our kitchens at home, but has all but disappeared from pubs and restaurants. Until now, anyway.

A plate of svíčková at Lokál costs 115 CZK, plus 28 CZK for the dumplings (all sides are served separately). For 100g of meat, it's more than you'd pay in most pubs, but the difference is startling. The beef was so tender it pulled apart easily under my fork. The dumplings were light and fluffy. And the sauce, tasting strongly of freshly pureed vegetables, was bright yellow and richly sweet. The dish was served with the traditional topping of whipped cream, cranberries, and a slice of lemon.

Tradition is a priority for Lokál, along with freshness, authenticity, and honesty. The inscription of the bottom of their (daily changing) menu explains their ideology best: "We want to cook Czech dishes differently than most pubs - places where hard work and fresh food are replaced with spices, flavorings, fats, ingredients that 'last forever,' and other cheap tricks used to make cooking faster, cheaper, and easier." What took them so long?

Lokál is the brainchild of Tomáš Karpíšek, the founder of the Ambiente Group and the Czech restaurant market's most brilliant innovator. He's achieved success with his chains of pasta restaurants (Pastacaffe, Ristorante Pasta Fresca) and all-you-can-eat gorgefests (Ambiente Brasileiro, Pizza Nuova). He's promoted Czech food before, too, with the First Republic-inspired Café Savoy and the upscale gourmet favorite La Degustation Boheme Bourgeoise. But Lokál is set to be his biggest, most revolutionary, most important venture yet.

Housed in a massive space off of Dlouhá formerly occupied by Middle Eastern hideaway Dahab (since relocated to nearby Soukenická), Lokál is said to be the longest restaurant in Prague. It has been, despite its size, rammed to the rafters from the day it opened. That's no surprise, really. When was the last time anybody saw rýžový nákyp (Czech rice pudding) on a menu? Or šunkofleky (pasta with smoked ham)? Or škubánky s mákem (sweet noodles with poppy seeds)? Even if you've come across those long-neglected classics once in a while, I guarantee they've never been made this well.

There isn't much to describe about Lokál's food. The plates are kept clean, with garnishes and other unnecessary flourishes kept to a minimum. No wilted oblohy (garnishes) here – just simple, straightforward dishes. My plněný paprikový lusk (stuffed pepper) (99 CZK) was filled with a mix of lean ground beef and marjoram in a sweet tomato sauce. The tatarák (beef tartare) (178 CZK) was made with similarly high-quality meat, pre-mixed to tender perfection, and served alongside crispy topinky(fried toast) and raw cloves of garlic.

That may sound close to what you'd order in any pub, and it is. The difference is in the consistent freshness and quality of Lokál's ingredients – and in the little details, like the homemade, hand-cut noodles in the chicken noodle soup (38 CZK for a pleasantly large portion), or the fresh whipped cream decorating the rakvičky (little meringue "coffins") (28 CZK). Renowned regional companies provide much of the ingredients, and the hotové jídla (pre-prepared dishes) are made from scratch several times a day.

The simplicity of Lokál's food is reflected in its interior, which, with its stark lighting and long wooden benches, brings to mind a school cafeteria. The only decoration, appropriately enough, are childlike doodles made along the length of the wood-panelled walls, illuminated from behind to create a glowing modern display.

For a Prague 1 restaurant, Lokál is refreshingly and unapologetically Czech: there are no menus in English (or French, or German, or Russian), and there are no conciliatory dishes of spaghetti or hamburgers. All of the drinks, from the tea (black, fruit, or rosehip only) to the hard liquor (Tuzemský Rum, Pražská Vodka, Lokál's own slivovice) to the soft drinks (Kofola, homemade sodas) are from these parts. And the beer (36 CZK for 0.5l) is fantastic: ice-cold Prazdroj, tapped fresh from small tanks, and also available as "Šnit" (a mini beer, to be consumed in one or two gulps) or "Mlíko" (only foam).

The only detail that seemed a little off were the coasters – they were the regular green Pilsner Urquell kind. Shouldn't a Czech restaurant this concerned with tradition have its own coasters, emblazoned with its own logo, as all the pubs used to have in the old days?

I guess I can forgive Lokál that one oversight. They are, after all, the restaurant (and future chain of restaurants) that is single-handedly saving good Czech pub food from near-certain extinction. You might think I'm exaggerating, but try it for yourself. If you don't like it, they'll bring you Maggi to make your meal taste more familiar, and your waiter won't even give you a dirty look: the service is more traditional Ambiente than traditional Czech, and thank God for that.

As for me – and again, no exaggeration – Lokál is the only restaurant that I feel like visiting at the moment. Everyone else peddling Czech food in this country should pay attention – because only now, after so many years of greasy goulashes and salty soups and freezer-burnt knedlíky, is somebody finally doing it right.

Lokál

Dlouhá 33
Praha 1 - Old Town
map
Tel: 222 316 265

Open Mon-Fri 11:00-01:00, Sat 12:00-01:00, Sun 12:00-22:00

photographs 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 Tomáš Krist for Lidové noviny; all others ambi.cz

This review originally appeared in Czech translation in the 05/12/09 edition of Lidové Noviny.

54 comments:

Pivní Filosof said...

Blah, blah, blah, Czech pub grub bad, blah, blah, blah, salty soup, blah, blah, blah, bad service, blah, blah, blah.

It's getting really tiring reading expat reviewers about how awful Czech pub grub and service are when it's clear they hardly ever venture into places where English isn't spoken.

If you know where to go, Czech pub food can be really good. Where? I know of many places, but won't tell, go look for them.

That said, nice to see an expat/tourist friendly place doing Czech food right.

PS: Traditionally most Czech restaurants and pubs didn't have their own coasters, but little ceramic ad-hoc plates, like the ones used in Klášterní Šenk, and they would have a dark beer on tap as well. Get your facts right. Oh! And I hope you didn't mean Ice-cold literally, because that IS NOT the right temperature for Ležák.

Martin Charvat said...

Hello Laura,
I agree with you completely. Just one thing you can hardly understnd as somebody growing in another country - the design of an interior of Lokál is another great part of this pub. It takes all the typical bits and pieces from the ugly communistic pubs from sixties to eighties and it redesigns them in modern way. That means that all the Czechs and Slovaks sitting in this pub feels something familiar. They all feel the "wind" of their childhood or young years but redone in modern way. For example the lamps are remaining the old ugly lamps from that times, but in nice and modern way. The same thing is with tables, chairs, walls, toilet signs(!) or even bread baskets! I understand that you gave it almost full spoon and that nobody is perfect, but me personally, who grew up and spent all his young years in the pubs with similar design (and when I say I spent there years, I mean it). I as a Czech would give it maximum for atmosphere as well (maybe I would compensate in service).
Martin Ch.

EB said...

Sorry, Pivni Filosof, but I've been to plenty of traditional little village pubs full of locals, and half the time the food's STILL greasy and full of Maggi.

Sim said...

Pivni filosof:
blahblahblah show us your heart and stomach examination report

Pivní Filosof said...

Sim, sorry to ruin your day, but I've been to the doctor recently for a full check up and it turned out I'm in tip-top shape (though the cholesterol could be a tad lower, but who gives a toss about that). It didn't surprise me, I feel really well, I'm 192cm tall, 85kg.

I guess it must be all that awful pub and (the horror!) jídelna grub I have for lunch, plus binge amounts of good pivo, domestic and imported and non-Tesco food for dinner. That and a lot of walking, too.

But I'm wasting my time here with you snobs, you've made up your minds. Much better for me and a lot more people.

Jx said...

Wow, PF, now I remember why I quit reading your blog.

You are, by the way, (also) wrong about the traditional beer mats/moisture-dealers-with. Some places indeed had, and still have, glazed ceramic thingmes to catch the moisture. In the 17 years or so I've been going to the pubs here they've mostly always been the paper/cardboard kind. Much more efficient. (I've also seen quite nice unglazed ceramic thingmes, and once in Brno, felt beer mats. That is, they were made of felt.)

As to nasty pub food: the cheap pubs have tried to keep prices down while the cost of food has jumped. Hence over the substitution of fat and salt for flavour over the past years. I had pretty much given up on pubs, and just hit the bufets. (If caring about how food tastes makes me a snob, then I'm a snob.)

But now I'll be trying lokál. Many thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

Decent svickova downtown at those prices??? Count me in.

Oh, you didn't mention the (Czech) gulas; also decent, if totally bland compared to the real thing?

Thanks for the heads up...

Laura Baranik said...

Interesting information, Martin, thanks. I have to say I like the interior more and more each time I visit, even though I don't have the same association with the Communist-style pubs.

And JX, that's exactly what I meant about the coasters. A friend of mine who has also lived here for 17+ years has a collection of paper coasters from old-school pubs with their own names and logos on them. Nowadays you just see the beer brand paper coasters everywhere. The old style ceramic ones are cool, too, but aren't personalized in the same way.

Ian said...

Man, this is the most snobby, expats.cz style review i've read in a long time. The place sounds nice, but very bland, i like a bit of character, not a sterilized Husa-esque kind of place.
As P.F said, there are plenty of great little places all over Prague selling similar quality with more atmosphere and smaller prices, but as also said, no point listing them here.
PS - Pilsner could be served at any temperature and it would still be massively overrated.

Anonymous said...

This is all good and well---but is it a "real non-smoking restaurant".
Prague newspapers and other sources always comment about some new restaurant but if you can't breathe, forget it.
I would love to find a real non-smoking place to eat in Prague.
They could make a fortune if they didn't gouge the tourist.

Anonymous said...

If you don't like ill-informed, sophomoric reviews, then stop reading Prague Spoon. She's not going to improve.

Anonymous said...

A czech reviewer agrees: "Lokál: konečně restaurace, kde vaří česky. A dobře
7. prosince 2009 9:53
PRAHA - Po letech strávených konzumací mastných gulášů, rozmražených knedlíků a přesolených polévek je tu konečně podnik, kde dostanete domácí nudle, knedlíky i omáčku, která nepřišla do styku s žádným instantním práškem. " http://www.lidovky.cz/lokal-konecne-restaurace-kde-vari-cesky-a-dobre-fq9-/dobra-chut.asp?c=A091207_095331_dobra-chut_glu

Jennifer said...

Errrrr...same reviewer, different language.

Anonymous said...

Now that I look closer, I see it's the same article! :o) Anyway, we tried it the other day and my Czech friend agrees. We have a favorite Czech pub we go to regularly, but the potatoes are made from powder and the soup is usually salty. We like it anyway, but Lokal is far better.

Anthony Lauder said...

Lokál is one of my favourites, and it really does all come down to the quality. Even the beer here was clean and fresh tasting. The article mentioned it is soon to be a chain. I hope that is correct, because we need more places like this. I am crossing my fingers.

Niall said...

I've been twice now and was impressed both times. One thing we noticed was it was full of Czechs not tourists and lots of ordinary people and families.

The first time I was there I had a pork skewer. When it arrived I noticed it was quite undercooked, so I called the waiter over. (The staff are very attentive so this was easy.) He immediately apologised and went to order another. Then came back and offered me a shot of Becherovka on the house. This has never happened to me in 7 years of living here. We weren't in a hurry so I was very happy to see that finally somewhere cares about service and reputation more than making a quick profit.

It's not too smokey and so far we haven't had to book a table. Though I don't think that will last for long.

Check out the toilets as well.

Laura Baranik said...

Lokal is not a non-smoking restaurant, but it does have a large non-smoking section (pictured in the first photograph) that has very clean air. If you wish, you can enter from the back entrance (off Hastalske Namesti, just across from La Degustation) to avoid the smoking area altogether.

I can't seem to find the source that said Lokal would be a chain - but judging by its success, it probably will be. Reservations in the evenings are now pretty much a must, especially if you're in a group of more than two people.

Pivní Filosof said...

I insist on the beer mats. Watch any scene that takes place at a pub in and old Czech film and you will see what I'm talking about.

Of course, there were some (relatively very few IMO) pubs that had their own mats, but those would have cost quite a bit of money to have made, and I don't think most neighbourhood hospody could afford or be arsed with them to begin with....

I like the personalised ones, a lot, I have a few at home, but those ceramic plates really do have class.

Jx, if you've stopped reading my blog, you don't know what you are missing, your loss, mate...

Anyway, whether you will agree with me or not on the blah, blah, blah thing, it is still very lazy writing.

Anonymous said...

Hey Pivni Filosof,

You’re absolutely wrong about the beer mats. I’ve lived here nearly all my life, during communism and after the revolution, and paper mats were absolutely the standard. The ceramic plates were a hold-over from the first republic and before. All of the more famous Prague pubs had their own signature mats, but this sadly started dying out in the mid-90s when breweries began giving the pubs free mats to advertise their beer. And so, as a retro commi place, it’s absolutely true that Lokal should also have their own signature mats, as Laura rightly said in her review. Don’t always believe what you see in the movies, PF. And don’t talk crap and assume things about a place you’ve never even visited. If anyone’s writing is lazy, it’s yours.

You’re also wrong about the food at pubs being proper representations of Czech cuisine. I bet you haven’t had a proper Czech meal in your life! Up until now, it used to be that you could only get that kind of quality cooking at your Czech (or Slovak) mother’s or babicka’s house, like I sometimes still do. Pub grub is just something we’ve always had to tolerate when we needed to coat our stomachs while out drinking. Lokal is the first place I’ve been to, out of the many hundreds of Czech pubs and restaurants I’ve eaten at over the past three decades, that serves authentic Czech food with the love and attention that mama always gives it. So stick to the smoky old pajzls that you “bohemian” expats have come here to romanticize, eat your plates of maggi-flavored, powder-mix sauces and stay away from Lokal. Leave their precious tables free for those of us who know better!

Another nice, precise review, Laura! Lokal is truly great! Finally I can take my foreign friends somewhere for cheap, authentic Czech food without having to make excuses for the dry knedliky, lumpy sauce and meat consisting mostly of chewy fat. And, say what you want about Prazdroj, beer lovers and philosophers alike, it has never been tapped better than at Lokal.

Pivní Filosof said...

OK. I was wrong about the mats, sorry.... I guess there are different perceptions of "traditional".

And as for the food. I know my Czech food and I know it well. I'm married to a Czech woman (four and a half years now) and we do visit her parents and relatives, so I eat quite a lot of home-made food. I also take foreign visitors, relatives, friends, etc to some of my favourite hospody and they've always been happy with what they got on their plates. But hey, it can happen we are all a bunch of weird romantics that wouldn't know good food if it hit us in the face.

If you had bothered to read my first comment fully, you would have noticed that I said the following:

That said, nice to see an expat/tourist friendly place doing Czech food right.

Hmmmm... As it turns out, it's you who is wrong here....

PS: I'm not a "bohemian" expat, I'm an immigrant, and a pretty well assimilated one at that, mind you...

Laura Baranik said...

Just to be clear, Lokal is NOT what I would consider a "tourist friendly" place. The menus are only printed in Czech and would be indecipherable to anyone who doesn't know the language at all. It might be tricky even for those who do understand some restaurant Czech, since so many of the dishes are local rarities that don't usually show up on menus.

That said, foreigners shouldn't be discouraged - I'm sure the waiters speak some English and would be glad to help out a bit. But I've only ever seen Czech people there. This pub is aimed at locals and locals only, which is part of what makes it so great.

Velky Al said...

Some people really should get their backsides, whether expat or wannabe Czech, out of Prague 1 to experience proper Czech food.

Czech food, properly made, is bloody marvellous and the Maggi crap you get in a lot of Nove Mesto/Stare Mesto is simply a travesity, but don't fall into the mistake that Prague 1 is any more representative of Prague than Prague is of the rest of the Czech Republic.'

Want good Czech food, go to Brno, Tabor, Pisek, Pardubice, Nachod, Liberec, take your pick just get out of Prague!

Pivní Filosof said...

Laura Said:
"Lokal is NOT what I would consider a "tourist friendly" place. The menus are only printed in Czech and would be indecipherable to anyone who doesn't know the language at all".

More Kudos to them!

I wonder how long it'll take them to change that, though.

Not that they should! It's nice to have an inexpensive place with good, down-to-earth food and tourist/only English expats free.

If only they had better beer....

Petr said...

Oh God, Pivní Filosof, really, how old are you?

"I know of many places, but won't tell." I haven't heard that since kindergarden...

I am 100% Czech, pretty normal income, so don't think I am a snobb, and everybody knows (and now I mean us Czech, not you expats) that to find a pub with good food in Prague is mission impossible.

So thanks God for having Lokal in the centre for normal prices with good food and beer.

Hope there will be more Lokal kind of places soon..

Pivní Filosof said...

Petr,

As I've mentioned in another comment, I'm not an expat, I'm a very well assimilated immigrant, been here 7 1/2 years and have an extended Czech family. Man! I even live in a "Satelitní Město", what can be more modern Czech than that? :)

I'm really sorry for you if you can't find any decent pubs in Prague. I guess I live in another city or country. Funny how none of my friends (both those who live here and those who come for a visit) have seemed to noticed that.

PS: I'm 38, BTW, but very much in touch with my inner child...

Velky Al said...

Petr,

Have you per chance tried the gulas at Sousedsky Pivovar U Bansethu? The chicken breast in bramborak at U Sadu? Even the food at U Provaznice is decent, despite the Gamcrap.

But of course if some American living in Prague discovering their "Czech roots" says all Czech pub grub is bad then it must be true!

Iain said...

I think criticism of 'expats' on this thread is a bit misplaced. I'd say that this place looks like more of a yuppie hang-out. Which isn't much better, in my book, in fact another reason to avoid it. And the fact that a place serves ice-cold Urquell is definitely not a recommendation, either. Is it too much of an effort for these supposedly classy places with fantastic food to put some imagination into their choice of beer?

Velky Al said...

Iain,

are you casting dispersions on that great beer, formulated by a German, using German methods, fermented with German yeast, made by a company that hired only German head brewers until well into the last century?

Anonymous said...

lol...

Without commenting on the general hilarity of where this thread has gone, I for one am glad to find a place that serves great beer, offers a non-smoking section that allows me to leave with my clothes not stinking and serves traditional food, thoughtfully prepared by chefs trained not only in seasoning but in cleanliness.

Too many times in the past, I've glimpsed into the open doors of the kitchens at other favorite pajzl pubs and seen inch long ashes dangling from cigarettes over koleno being pulled from greasy buckets. Ick. I don't eat at those places (Na slamniku, I'm especially talking to you!) anymore.

If this makes me and my Czech and foreign friends who like Lokal yuppies, then so be it. ;-)

Pivní Filosof said...

I beg to differ on the "great beer" thing.

Bog standard, more likely... but that is a bit off topic....

Vláďa Bukač said...

Nice to read all the time excited and complimentary Lokál critiques. Isn't it a small PR bubble?
But of course, I was in as well.

The food and service was OK, but after all these critiques, I was expecting more. Anyway, I´m not gastronomic expert :-) And maybe last think, in my opinion, the beer was a bit overcooled (sure, better than warm one but..) and even here i was missing the right level of beer (in czech it's caled "podmírák").

But in this part of the town it's probably the best choice!

Anonymous said...

Gosh, it's so good to see that Ms. Baranik, ever the sucker for hype, just looooooooooooooves Lokal.

I mostly agree with Pivni filosof but (except on the coasters, heh) but here's my take.

1. The food is OK. It's not stellar even though I don't question the integrity of the kitchen, ie. using fresh ingredients, avoiding mixes, etc.
2. The prices are very good for this part of Prague.
3. The decor is insufferably smirky and actually "wrong" on a few counts. The "copy" in the oh-so-stylish "graffiti" is all wrong, no doubt conceived by some youngish "creatives" from a PR or ad agency instead of someone who actually knows and remembers the genuine thing they are trying so hard to reference, ie. 60s/70s "socialist" pub interiors. Axl Rose and Madonna references? Oh please! SO wrong.
4. The PR was massive and vastly successful. We are such a herd of sheep, we are.
5. I don't wish Lokal ill - good for them, there are worse places out there - but will always prefer my own local cheap pub with excellent food, which EXISTS! Except it's not cutesy and has zero PR and serves Nachod beer and looks like crap from the outside. And it's not in the Old Town. Or Vinohrady.

Martin said...

Name it. Don't hide it from us. By the way, on the walls are also so authentic signs as: Volej Pavel. If you remember the eighties in Czechoslovakia you know what I am talking about.

Martin said...

Laura, this is 100 % hit :-). People or hate it or love it - both the pub and your review :-).

Pivní Filosof said...

Anonymous (the latest one), nice to see some reasonable people here.

Please, do tell (at least the neighbourhood) where this Primátor place is (I think I have an idea).

Love those dives with good food...

Joe said...

Pivni Filosof, get over yourself. I hope you manage to check the one-upmanship - even smugness - that has recently infected your writing on Czech food and beer. I'm glad you're so well assimilated - no need to keep banging on about it. No need, either, to make assumptions about your fellow reviewer's knowledge of life in the Czech Republic, nor tar every non-Czech you don't know with the same condescending 'expat' brush.

Yes, there are a lot of great local pubs with excellent beer, but I have come across few indeed that serve even halfway decent food. These days, if I'm in such a pub, I prefer not to risk eating at all. And if assimilation's your bag, that's after more than a decade's worth.

I think Ms Baranik has shown dignity in not rising to your posts. Perhaps she doesn't want to waste her time on snobs - inverted or otherwise.

Pivní Filosof said...

Joe,

Laura's (and other expat reviewers') constant rant about how bad Czech pubs are is to me a clear sign that they haven't been to enough of them.

Now, If that assumption is wrong (and it might very well be) that will mean that she is using lazy, tired clichés to increase her word count, which is actually worse. But then, she's free to write as she sees fit, and if people want to believe here, that's their problem.

Nobody is denying that there are some truly awful pubs in Prague. I've been to quite a few of them, but saying, or implying that ALL of them are is really unfair and disrespectful to all those people that work really hard (and I know a few personally) trying to keep their patrons happy while at the same time, struggle to keep their heads above water without compromising too much.

As for what you say about my blog, you are free and welcome to leave your comments there pointing anything that you don't like or don't agree with and we can discuss it there.

(and before anyone says it, I do like Laura's reviews overall, even if I don't agree with some of her views)

Anonymous said...

PF, If you know so many great pubs with great food up to the quality level of Lokal, why don't you name one for us so we can try it ourselves? You don't have to give all your secrets away -- just one. Then we can try it for ourselves, and you can prove everybody wrong. Because if U Provaznice and U Sadu are what you're going by (mentioned by someone else), you obviously don't know what you're talking about.

Pivní Filosof said...

OK....

U Medvidku
U Bansethu
Zlý Časy
Pivovarská Krčma Chýně
Budvarka
Ferdinanda
Pivovar U Bulovky
Kulový Blesk
Klášterní Šenk (a restaurant, actually)
U Veverky
U Rokytky
U Pětníka (I haven't been here for a couple of years now, but it used to be really great value)
Pivnice Bruska
Kralovství
Pivovarský Dum (though rather overpriced)
U Rudolfina
Svijanský Rytíř
Malostranská Pivnice (but you will have to speak Czech there, otherwise, you'll probably have to pay a "service charge")

This is just from the top of my head.

Don't know how much some of you will like them, but I've been to all these places not only alone, but with Czech and foreign friends (both living here or visiting) and everyone has been pretty satisfied so far.

Anthony Lauder said...

I am surprised. Most of these pubs PF has listed are tourist traps and expat hangouts. Certainly, the few of them that I have been to offer bland food at best. I am only imagine that PF hasn't even been to Lokál, and hence cannot make a sensible comparison.

Pivní Filosof said...

yeah.... I guess that is why most of them don't have menus in English prominently displayed if they have it at all...

I'm haven't got anything to say against the grub at Lokál, I haven been there.

I give Laura's review a lot of credit, so I believe the food there is good, perhaps the best of its kind in town, if that is what you want to hear. That doesn't mean that all the rest is crap...

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone! It's me - Anonymous.

I don't wish to reveal the location of my favorite dive with great food mentioned a few posts ago (suffice it to say it's way off the beaten track in the suburbs so few of you might be interested in venturing there) but here's one for the downtown crowd: Baráčnická rychta.

_______________________


Unlike PF, I find Ms. Baranik's reviews poorly written both in terms of content (she repeatedly makes errors that an aspiring "food critic" should never make), attitude (repeated references to her erotic exploits and personal appearance, ignorant arrogance masquerading as worldly sophistication) and finally, style. Her reviews - frequent victims to hype as they are - are chock-full of hackneyed phrases and metaphors that go nowhere. My friends and I (two of whom are chefs, btw, though not at any place she has reviewed lately) read them mostly for a bit of masochistic amusement.

The fact that she has an enthusiastic (mostly expat) following is caused by the same reasons that make Radost FX a popular restaurant and Staropramen a popular beer.

Joe said...

Anonymous - Repeated references to Ms Baranik's erotic exploits? Providing you and your chef friends with masochistic amusement? This is all getting rather exciting. Doesn't much tally with the blog I've been reading, though.

Anyway, nice of you to stoop to the level of the 'downtown crowd.'

Now that Pivni Filosof has opened up his treasure chest, it seems there was not much worth coveting (food-wise) after all. The pubs he mentions - and I've been to about three-quarters of them - are great places for a drink. But really, with the exception of Klasterni Senk (a restaurant, as PF points out), I would not eat at any of them again in a hurry.

Which of course proves nothing, other than that PF and I have different taste/expectations when it comes to food. And that's fine and dandy. In fact, that's probably what this discussion should be all about. Not who's the phoney and who's the insider; not who's down with the locals and who isn't. But what we like (and don't like) to eat. Which is at it should be on a food critic's blog.

And which only makes it all the more puzzling that some of the higher and mightier contributions to the discussion have come from people who have not even tried the food at Lokal, and so cannot make a comparison between it and the fare offered up at other pubs.

So maybe you should give Lokal a try. Our reviewer saw fit to give it four spoons - and with no apparent erotic inducement, to boot. (Or am I missing something?)

Rachel said...

@Anon Re: "The fact that she has an enthusiastic (mostly expat) following is caused by the same reasons that make Radost FX a popular restaurant and Staropramen a popular beer."

You are obviously not aware of Ms. Baranik's numerous Czech fans. Could you be unaware that her articles are among the most popular in Lidove noviny's weekend paper and frequently billed on the front page of the section?

As someone who actually works in Czech media I have been privy to many conversations about her writing. These folks feel extremely disappointed on the infrequent weeks when she is away and someone else pens the reviews.

Laura's following is decidedly NOT expat. Instead, expats have been the nastiest, most hateful critics on this blog. Which makes sense since they know everything. (Apologies, I had to throw a stab in there.)

I am quite certain that I know who several of the "anonymous" commentators are on this blog and would be happy to start naming you if you won't come out of hiding on your own.

Would anyone else like to start guessing who they are?

Anonymous said...

Dear Rachel,

No, I am not unaware of the LN column. I read Czech. Speak it too for that matter...

I wonder then why Ms. B has not treated her blog audience to the delicious morsel that was her LN column on tipping. There the unwashed masses receive sage advice not only on how much to tip but also on how to avoid making Ms. Baranik's thoughts turn to genital warts when settling the bill for her dinner.

The wit, wisdom & class of that piece of writing are truly without equal, even in the dazzling world of Czech media where you "actually work" and where, god knows, one comes across all kinds of things.

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like Mme Verdurin,

Smart, refined, successful and oh so glamorous in her head - bitter, hateful, petty "&" pretentious to everyone else.

Get a life, my dear. A real one.

Rachel said...

@ Anonymous:

Your talents are unending! How fortunate for you Ms. Anonymous.

Why not go on to annotate the full list of criteria qualifying you to tear down a fellow writer? I find doing it with the "anonymous" button so dignified, do you? (Let me clarify: it was "anonymous" in quotes, not "doing it." I would hate to distract you with another juicy erotic reference.)

On a personal note, it was obvious at our last chance meeting that you hold a sizable personal disdain for this blog's author but coming from someone in your profession I find your attacks on Ms. Baranik's work truly despicable.

I guess with winter break you have a lot of time on your hands, no?

The only serious issue I have with Ms. Baranik is that she allows her comments to be enabled on this site allowing intellectually superior folks like you to ruin her holidays.

Pivní Filosof said...

Joe,

I couldn't agree with you more on your last post.

I think that if Laura hadn't used that (IMO unfair) blanket statement about Czech pubs, and instead had said that Lokál is better than other pubs she's been to, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Of course, that would mean that this comment thread would be a lot shorter and, at least for me, a lot less fun. :)

Anonymous said...

Aw, Rachel, your loyalty to Ms. B is truly sweet. I don't believe I am spoiling her holidays - au contraire, I'm fairly sure she loves controversy or she wouldn't be writing the way she has been. If anything, my posts probably add to her already substantial sense of self-worth.

And as stated before, if someone calls herself Prague's "most opinionated" eater, surely she's letting her readers know she's game for a few dissenting opinions.

Finally, I'm interested in your comment about my "profession". I'd like to know what it may be; I am amply supported by my adoring husband Dr Verdurin and besides running my questionable salon (and commenting on poorly-written restaurant reviews), I do not hold what you might call a "job". So, yes, time on my hands I do have. And I do enjoy it so.

Jx said...

PiFi, no, it's not, not at all.

Joel said...

I LOVE THIS BLOG. Don't get me wrong. I can give two shits about LB reviews. One word: Zero Content. Moreover, there is nothing said that you wouldn't assume or guess at by simply the name (HRC, Sushi Review, etc) "Love ribs, Hamburgers, and oh why are the beans cold?" Hahaha, oh and my favorite, "Sushi is expensive!" hahahaha

I read LBs review on occasion for the response she gets from her followers and haters (equally ridiculous). She often reviews restaurants I haven't heard of... and most of all I think she is pretty... what can I say I fall for good looks and talking about food. Therefore, I will try Lokal due purely to the response from this blog and look forward to her next post.

Thank you all for your heartfelt comments. KEEP'EM COMING except PF, get a life man... and your reviews suck. You add nothing to the conversation except mundane diatribe. Honestly, the Expat vs Czech or Long term "immigrant" vs new to Prague are tired.

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