A few weeks ago in London, in Craft Islington to be precise, a few of us encountered that most annoying and anti social of things in a public house. There, in the middle of the afternoon, in a fairly quiet pub - well it was until we arrived - was a sign on a table - more than one table in fact - "Reserved" it said.
Now I can understand it a bit. Well just about if it was a gastropub where drinkers are a bloody nuisance, but this is a wet led beer emporium. Food there is scotch eggs and exotic cold pies. As it happened there was lots of other tables, so it didn't matter. The sign did though sensibly say that it was reserved from a certain time and that customers could feel free to use it up until that time, but it warned, ominously, that the chairs were part of the reservation. No nicking them then! I suppose it is a sign of the times and how middle class pub going in some places has become and is in this case a reflection of just that, as well as time and place. I'm guessing Craft Islington gets busy with hipsters of a Saturday night. Still seems wrong to me though. A pub is first come first served in my book.
And so to Prague. Following up Mr Dredge's recommendation we hoofed out to Restaurace Kulovy Blesk. It wasn't that hard to find once we'd nicked a wifi signal from Starbucks and as Mark mentioned to me, an unusual place. The outside beer garden was empty and the bar abandoned, but we went on downstairs to find a neat little old fashioned bar. We looked around. It was empty, though a barman leapt out from nowhere and ushered us into and through a second room, empty again apart from from two Czech guys talking gloomily over a beer. All tables except theirs had reserved signs on them. We were taken into another room with two more beer scoffing denizens. It wasn't big. Maybe six tables. All except one had a reserved sign on it. E remarked (no English was spoken) that this table for two must be our destination and headed to it. With incredible fleetness of foot, our guide headed her off at the pass and with a triumphant flourish, furnished the only unreserved table with a reserved sign.
Now I could say Dear Reader that I knocked him out at this point and he may be lying there still, but with great forbearance, I didn't. He turned and went to a closed door. It was a further small room, with about four tables. You are ahead of me now aren't you? All had reserved signs on them, but one tiny table by the door was indicated and the sign removed. We'd made it.
As Dredgie says, the beers were good and interesting: Matuška Raptor, Kocour Sumeček, and lagers from Chotiviny and Konrad. We stayed for a hour and a half, along with the other guys. Well they were there. The waiter/barman having dealt with the reserved situation to his complete satisfaction, was very pleasant and if the till receipt is to believed, was called Veronika.
Nobody else came in the whole time we were there.
We also took up Mr D's other suggestion of Nota Bene, where we ate. Modern, pleasant, good beer, no oddball behaviour. That was the only disappointment. The bar had been set high by Kulovy Blesk. Both were blessedly non smoking.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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