Ever since I moved to Prague I have wanted to check out U Fleku. Perhaps it was because I once saw U Fleku on a DVD about Prague that featured Czech Classical music with videos from the city. I still remember the U Fleku bit; I believe the music was a Dvorak composition combined with a moving picture of dark flowing beer brewed at U Fleku. I was a believer when I saw the first pour, entrapped by the look of the interior as well with the long dark wooden benches in the beer halls and the colorful and traditional decorations on the walls. And alas, live music! I was hooked on the idea, especially after growing up close to Chicago with the small German town and the select few jolly beer halls I would go to with my family and friends. So last week I went and I wish I could leave it at that. The best description of my experience: U Fleku belongs in the World Showcase at Disney World. Enough said, right? Well for those of you who do not know what the World Showcase is, it is a manmade lagoon surrounded by about a dozen different ‘countries’ or structures, restaurants, and shops made to look like real countries. Okay, so the interior of U Fleku is old, as the brewery dates back to the 1400s, but that is where the authenticity dies. My partner and I were escorted by a friendly, yet a bit cold manager to a corner table in a room that was empty but promptly filled up, and I mean filled up, with a huge group of Japanese, German, French Canadian, and American tourists. I must admit, in the beginning I thought, okay this is cool, I am completely surrounded by people from all over the world and we are all going to have some tasty Czech beer and food and be merry. My gaiety didn’t last too long. The staff was friendly and prompt at first, but after they realized we were not going to keep drinking their 60kc medium sized beer (which is expensive, you can get a large beer in other places for 30kc) they pretty much ignored us and even left us waiting for an average apple strudel that we ordered for dessert for about 40 minutes. But let me rewind back to the beginning. So we were sitting in the large room and a server with a tray of beer approached us and asked if we wanted a beer and we said yes. The beer, by the way, is a good dark brew, but you can find better in Prague and for less money. Seconds later a man with a tray of Becherovka came over and asked if we would like a traditional shot of the Czech liqueur. We said no. He didn’t move. He then proceeded to ask us another two or three times and then told us that it is customary for people to drink Becherovka before a Czech meal (which is not exactly true). I succumbed to the pressure of the pushy waiter and downed a shot; good thing I like Becherovka as the cunning man sold me a shot for 100kc! And I am not sure, but I think it even seemed a tad bit watered down, which is in no way traditional, the stronger the better in this country! We then ordered our meals; my partner had traditional goulash and I had smoked pork with cabbage and potato dumplings, we also had pickled hermelin with Czech bread. The food was average and the portions were small, but the prices were not bad. After our meal we then waited for the above-mentioned 40 minutes for our apple strudel. During that time a couple of men dressed up like German officers came in with a horn and an accordion and started to play music, and of course they took requests. And tips. They seemed to be jolly fellows and I did in fact enjoy listening to them. At one point a Japanese man stood up with them and started signing an Italian opera. That was the highlight of the evening and I even started to like U Fleku. This ended after we annoyingly waited for the much-anticipated strudel, the waiter clearly forgot and when we reminded him he didn’t even look apologetic. After we had our dry strudel we wanted to pay so we went to the bar as no one was paying attention to us. This is where U Fleku gets tricky apparently, especially for a foreigner. Our waiter looked at our bill (which was a piece of paper left on our table during our dinner, the wait staff marked down what we had as we went along) took a calculator from his pocket, did some quick addition that was clearly wrong and overcharged us by about 200kc. Too bad we didn’t realize it until we had left. We asked for a receipt and they gave us a hand written one with a stamp from the restaurant; just a bit suspicious isn’t it? So to some it all up: the restaurant has atmosphere but it is a fake Disney World atmosphere, the food is average, and they clearly rip off people when they can!
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Address: Křemencova 11, Praha 1, www.ufleku.cz
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