Reinvented as a Czech restaurant, this downtown location brings tank-fresh Pilsner Urquell to central Prague
"I may be drunk, miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly."
The full title of the restaurant is Pilsner Urquell Original Restaurant Deminka. Like the beer they serve, it is quite a mouthful.
It is similar in design and cuisine to other Pilsner restaurants like Kolkovna, Olympia, and Celnice.
Deminka is in a beautiful old building that dates back to 1886. Back then, I'm sure the horse-and-buggy traffic out front could get pretty hectic. Now, the street is full of cars on what has become a very busy road through the center Prague.
There have been a few restaurants in the location in the last 10 years. I tried a couple of them. They are all history. The new version of Deminka opened up just this summer.
Pilsner Urquell Original Restaurants seem to have a fairly successful formula, and Deminka appears to be doing better than it used to, but after three visits, I have yet to see it close to full.
Despite the history of the building and some nice accents in the dining room, I can't say I like the interior. I'm sure others will disagree, but taken as a whole, I think it lacks for style and atmosphere.
For one thing, the furniture doesn't fit the room. But the main problems for me are that it is too brightly lit, and the walls are painted unpleasant shades of light green and salmon pink. The paint is the biggest sin to my mind.
I can see why they want the lights up so bright -- the ceilings are quite nice. But the same lights and high ceilings also kill some of the atmosphere. Plus, some of the light fixtures on the walls use bare bulbs that are just ugly and glaring.
They should really take a lesson or two from Cafe Savoy if they want to see how to do proper lighting in a historic restaurant space with beautiful, high ceilings.
The menu at Deminka is very Czech oriented. I went with V the other night, and we decided to explore a few of these offerings. We sat in the non-smoking room, which has a flat-screen television. On this night, it was showing the Sparta versus Slavia football match.
They start you off with some basic types of bread, and a very Czech spread to go with it.
A tourist might mistake this delicacy for some sort of pâté. It is not. This is škvarková pomazánka -- spreadable pork fat.
We began with the sliced Prague ham with horseradish and mustard for 75 CZK. It was better quality ham than you'll find at a supermarket, but it was processed.
The perfectly shaped slices were arranged in a circle on the cutting board, along with sweet pickles, mustard, and horseradish. It was tasty, but won't fill you up very much. The price seemed a little high for what you get.
For a main course, I decided to get the pork ribs in a spicy marinade (Pečená vepřová žebírka v pikantní marinádě) for 176 CZK. These are done Czech-style. Do not expect them to come with barbecue sauce. They come with two types of mustard and horseradish.
The ribs certainly looked nice, but they were fairly salty and not spicy at all. They were cut cross-wise, so that the three pieces on the cutting board contain many small pieces of rib bone.
They were very fatty. I used up a lot of napkins getting the grease off my hands. I could have used a knife and fork, but it didn't seem to be the most efficient way to separate the meat from the fat.
The meaty parts were overcooked to the point of hardness, especially at the tips. The ribs come with pickled pearl onions, pickled peppers, and sweet pickles.
I wouldn't get them again.
V went to the fish section and ordered the dorado on rosemary with ratatouille (Pražma na rozmarýnu, zeleninová ratatoule) for 325 CZK.
She thought the fish was excellent, and I agreed. She thought it was a little too salty, and I disagreed. She liked the ratatouille. I thought it was OK, but a little too heavy on the green peppers for my taste.
She had half a liter of Müller-Thurgau for 90 CZK. She said it was very good. I had a couple of 0.2-liter bottles of Coke for 30 CZK, which I thought was too expensive. I was taking a beer break on this particular evening.
The restaurant does charge 10 CZK each for a cover, which apparently is for the bread and pork fat.
On another visit, I tried the penne filletto di manzo for 175 CZK. It had a nice basil flavor and decent quality beef, but otherwise, it was quite bland.
It needed a lot of salt. The sauce was also pretty thin. A friend had the same dish on a different night, and it was better.
The Michigan Man got the spaghetti al tonno for 150 CZK. This is something I would never have ordered myself. I prefer my tuna raw or lightly seared. MM loved it.
I had a bite and was quite surprised that I liked it too. It had fresh zucchini slices. It was very nicely seasoned and full of flavor. No salt required.
But enough about the food.
The main reason I'd make Deminka a regular stop is the beer. It is a tank pub (tankovna) that gets its beer fresh from the factory, which is stored in a tank on the premises.
A half-liter is 30 CZK. It is good stuff, and it is good to have it available just a few minutes from Wenceslas Square.
I've heard at least one complaint about the service, but it has always been pleasant and efficient during my visits.
I may not stop too often at Deminka for the food. I may come more often with some friends for a drink. I may even get drunk. But in the morning, I'll still think Deminka is ugly.
Pilsner Urquell Original Restaurant Deminka
Tel.: (+420) 224 224 915
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