In need of a light pre-game meal, Czech Please's Brewsta samples this Pilsner Urquell pub's chicken wings and potato pancakes

This article was originally posted on the Czech Please weblog.

Every week, I play sports with a group of friends. Every week, after the game, we go to the pub to drink. We call this the post-game show.

Sometimes, we drink a few before the game. This is called the pre-game show.

Recently, G and I decided to stop by Olympia on Vítězná for the pre-game. The beer is very good there.

The restaurant is owned by the Kolkovna Group, which works in partnership with Pilsner Urquell. Olympia is what is known as a tankovna. It is one of the few places you can get unpasteurized Pilsner Urquell. I believe it is 39 CZK for a half liter (the internet menu says 37) -- about 10 crowns more than some other pubs in the area.

Anyway, we had time to kill and both of us were feeling a bit hungry, but we didn't want a full meal. I ordered the chicken wings -- you get nine for 153 CZK. They were good, maybe the meatiest wings I've seen.

The wings came with "roasted" corn and two sauces. One sauce was similar to the mango chili sauce at Ambiente on Manesova, with a very sweet ketchup base. There wasn't enough of it in the small glass dish.

Their other sauce was something like sour cream, not really a sauce. There were assorted vegetables on the side (obloha). I couldn't really detect any signs of roasting on the corn on the cob. It was bland.

Ambiente does a better version of the roasted corn, which is not included with their wings. Ambiente's Carolina Wings may be a bit smaller, but they have better seasoning.

G got "traditional Czech potatoes pancake" (bramborové lokše) for 65 CZK. The menu says it comes with pork crackling and a pepper sauce. They called them traditional, but neither of us had seen potato pancakes that look like these before -- very light in color, with an almost cake-like texture.

The pepper sauce was a condiment I've bought on occasion called ajvar. The description of it on Wikipedia is that it is a relish made with red bell peppers, eggplant, garlic, and chili pepper. It is popular in the Balkans. Probably from a jar, but good stuff.

The potato pancakes were studded with pork fat, the cracklings, which G picked out. I tried some. I thought the pork seemed very old and looked a bit gray. The verdict: G liked the potato pancakes, I did not.

The Kolkovna group owns two similar restaurants -- Kolkovna (V Kolkovně 8) and Celnice (V Celnici 4). Olympia is fairly large -- it takes up a whole block of Vítězná and sometimes gets large parties. You'll find tourists, but also plenty of Czechs.

The service in the bar area was good. Our waiter was constantly moving by, always asking if we wanted a fresh beer as one was close to finished. But a number of my friends, all fluent Czech speakers, often refuse to go to Olympia.

Few will deny the superiority of the beer. Most lament the fact that many other bars in the area serve Staropramen and not Pilsner Urquell. That debate, which can get heated, is for another time.

The problem is that friends, long-term residents of Prague, have been put off in the past by the annoyed and impatient attitudes of some of the waiters. It has been a consistent issue.

If they ever work that out, maybe one day Olympia will be the main event for us.


Vítězná 7, Prague 5

Tel.: (+420) 251 511 080

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