Perhaps strangely for someone my age, I am completely in love with the idea of the Czech beer bar, as I imagine it may have been at the beginning of the 20th century: heavy wooden furniture, taps overflowing with the liquid gold of Bohemia, middle-aged men engaged in loud, never-ending conversations, congenial if slightly hassled waiters slaloming amongst the tables, greeting familiar patrons and leading them to their favourite places. And when I want to time travel straight into this fantasy, I walk two blocks and go to Ferdinand Monarchia restaurant.
My intro is always a Becherovka and a pint of Ferdinand Sedm Kulí, an amber lager, but they also serve the same brewery’s pilsner and dark lager as well on tap- all excellent, as Czech beer generally is. The food is a mix of traditional Czech and ‘monarchic’ dishes, so ones from other regions of the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy (told you we were time travelling). Some staples, such as the ‘hermelin’ (Czech pickled camembert, a must alongside beer), Švejk’s pork knuckles or the Prague pork steak with sautéed cabbage remain unchanged throughout the year, but otherwise there is a rotation of dishes, which means that whenever your heart breaks for a discontinued favourite, you find exciting new replacements. As noticeable form the previous enumeration, Ferdinand (or just Ferdi for the regulars) is mostly for lovers of meaty, hearty food, yet some options are always available for the special vegetarian in your life as well.