Ron Pattinson has written about U rotundy, one of his favorite rough pubs. It might have its charms, but for me there are two good reasons not to pick U rotundy: one, they serve Staropramen, which you could get just about anywhere else in Prague if you wanted it. And more importantly: just two doors down the very same street is Art-Café u Irmy, which you might call a “rough café.” In addition to great inexpensive Georgian food — as in the country, not the American state, nor the historical era — u Irmy is one of the few places in town where you can get draft Bohemia Regent.
Many thanks to reader James for the tip, as well as pointing out the café’s excellent atmosphere, like a wacky house party where all the characters come from different corners of the old soviet sphere of influence. The food, as well, is an eastern treat: great dolmas, outstanding lobio (Georgian red beans with red onions, pomegranate seeds and coriander), borscht, chačapuri (cheese bread), čachochbili (chicken and red-pepper stew), sacivi (walnut sauce) and chinkali (beef dumplings). How could U rotundy possibly compete with that?
And then there is the beer.
Once widely considered the second-best mass producer of beer in Bohemia (after Pilsner Urquell), Regent has virtually disappeared from taps in Prague. And yet its dark lager remains one of the country’s best, certainly when in good condition. My half-liters (40 Kč) were at the very top of their game, in excellent shape, rich and coffee-like with the bitter notes perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the malt, or at least that’s how I described it in my review of U Irmy in Lidové noviny two weekends ago.
I love rough pubs. But I think I like rough cafés even better, especially when they serve great beer, great cheap food and have convivial, Borat-esque atmosphere. In fact, just across from U Irmy is Duende, which serves Bernard, another one of the country’s great smaller brewers — and many times better, for most beer lovers, than the ubiquitous Staropramen.
If you want two great stops for great beer and a fun scene in the heart of the touristic center, you know where to go on Karolíny Světlé.
Art Café u Irmy
Karolíny Světlé 19
Praha 1-Staré Město
Tel.: 775 565 868