A pub I wish I could visit
I don’t know what it is about the area where my wife, my son, and I live in the Czech capital that it can’t have a decent pub. Crazy as it may sound, it’s true: the establishment closest to our home, and there’s only one, is lousy. I’m not even a big pub-goer - but I wouldn’t mind going once in a while if I could.
Example. My date decided we should grab a bite nearby and… what was closer?
I ordered a starter a-something-on toast thing with melted cheese. Should be fine, right? What could go wrong? Well, I’ll tell you: the thing was so doused in oil you could have blamed it on BP.
That would have perhaps been permissible if they had good or great beer. After all, there are plenty of places that serve vile food but everything is forgiven (or perhaps forgotten) because of the quality of the lager.
Not here. Is there ever a time that beer-on-tap is supposed to taste like pickles?
The waiter. What a charmer: not only did it take his eminent presence forever to take our order after walking past five times… but he made a point of forgetting what we ordered almost immediately after he left. Now, I have no problem telling someone what’s what: but who wants to spoil a first date?
And when we did protest, exasperated to no end, he addressed us in a surly ‘Sir’ and ‘Madame’…she was 26, I was in my early 30s. Sir??! Madame??!
I could go on.
About the toilet and the door that wouldn’t shut.
About curtains so dirty they look like old skin.
About the blaring screen inside that only ever shows the very dumbest programmes on TV. Not some series, I mean the most idiotic shows ever produced. It’s Orwell’s telescreen, only worse. If American Gladiators dubbed in Czech is on, you know the bartender and the rest of the customers by default are watching.
That and more led me and my girlfriend, now wife, to coin the place U idiotů – At the Idiots’… And damned if we’ve ever called it anything else since. When people come over for the first time and can’t find our address, we tell them, ok, we’ll pick you up at the pub on the corner...
We forgot At the Idiots’ isn’t the real name, raising an eyebrow or two.
The paradox is, that others don’t see it, or at least not right away. To my constant amazement the place is often crammed. I just don’t understand it. Well, actually, no, I sort of do: the thing is, and here’s the point: this pub, this pub in its location with its scarred wood charm has (or had) every potential for greatness: a garden, two floors, a theoretically okay beer, and a nice view. But it’s let down, it’s miserably let down, by interiors that were last cleaned in 1906.
It’s let down by a lack of colorful characters (the few there are, are busy watching Baywatch Nights). And above all, above all, it’s let down by lousy, lousy customer service. Yes, the old expat obsession raises its ugly head. But in this case it is justified and even after all these years I have new proof!
Luckily, this time, we weren’t the guinea pigs.
A friend who was visiting us recently insisted on walking over there with a jug – apparently sick of the canned beer in the fridge. Apparently he prefers the taste of pickles. It’s sad, it really is.
I’d go once in a while… I’d love to: with friends or for lunch with our son, or for a late nightcap with my wife once in a while when the grandparents were babysitting. It’d be perfect. Just perfect. But it’s not going to happen. I wonder what the owners must think? But it must be: Why change something for the better? If you don’t really have to, why change a thing?