The crowds stomped their feet and banged their hands against the table to the tune of the accordion. An older couple from the room next door flew through the doorway and bounced along in dance to the clapping of enthusiastic drinkers. The man on the accordion smiled and played the song harder and louder than before. He was dressed up in the traditional Czech dress, right down to the checkered hat he wore on his head. He meandered through the long wooden picnic tables that lined the dining hall. Singing and playing to the crowds of people. Everyone was listening, and everyone was happy to stomp along to the beat. This is U Fleku.
U Fleku is the epitome of a traditional Czech drinking establishment. This Brewery/ restaurant in the heart of New Town Prague is massive. It holds over 1200 people in 8 different halls throughout the building, each with live music for entertainment.
Jodon and I were ushered into a mid-sized hall as soon as we stepped into the building. We sat at a large wooden bench with a couple young guys sitting at one end. All the tables in the room were shared. The room was simple and painted white, with large, dark, wooden panels lining the walls up to the 7 foot mark. The ceiling was decoratively painted and from it hung large chandeliers with glass beer steins holding each light.
The bar served only one beer. A dark, sweet tasting malty brew made right there at the brewery. A waiter walked around the room with a large tray of beers and set them in front of each customer that was empty. It is assumed that you would like another unless told otherwise. Within seconds we had a large pint sitting in front of us. No decisions. No searching through the menu. This is what you get.
A minute later a man carrying shots of honey liquor and Becherovka walked passed our table.
“Please, try one!” He smiled at us.
“No thank you” I said, knowing a double shot of whatever it was would be a terrible idea before dinner.
“But you must,” said the man “it is tradition”
Feeling a little pressured I grabbed a Becherovka and Jodon grabbed a honey liquor and the man carried on. It was a good thing we didn’t refuse longer, because the man did not take no for an answer at any one of his stops. He emptied the tray within minutes and carried on to the back to fill up again.
The food was hearty and fast. Large portions of dumplings on the side of Beef Goulash and Svickova. Comfort food at its best. And all the while the accordion played on.
I can’t say we came across a lot of local bars like U Fleku, but it definitely was a lively experience, even on a Tuesday night. It is what I imagined bars in the Czech Republic or rural Germany to be like. Lively, beer-heavy, groups of people sitting together to eat. If only the beers had been half the price, I would have stayed there all night.