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U Hrocha (its name means "At the Hippo") can be found on a quiet side street just down the hill from the Prague Castle. It was my second Prague Pub, and my first at what I would call a traditional "local" establishment. At a spot like this, knowing a little Czech Beer Etiquette will go a long way towards enjoying a great Pub experience!
For starters, it's a good idea to get on the staff's good side. Keep in mind that these pubs tend to be very small, with perhaps only five or so tables, and that they all tend to have "Reserved" signs on them. Reserved for locals, that is, and these places would be quite happy to do without any backpackers from Ontario or anywhere else showing up. So....
Greet the server with a cheery "Dobry Den!" ("Good Day!"), and gesture toward an empty table while saying a reverential "Je tu volno?" ("Is this taken?"), adding a submissive "Procim?" ("Please?") for extra brownie points. If the staffer grunts and nods towards a certain table, then CONGRATULATIONS!, you have made contact and you are in. Now to the beer!
U Hrocha, as befits its name, has all kinds of Hippo related brick-a-brack within the premises. The beer, however, is none other than the Czech Republic's world-famous Pilsner Urquell. This ain't your Beer Store PU, though. This is fresh from the source, by means of a quaint little tap on the counter. And at 32 CZK (less than $2 Canadian a pint), it's a cheap ticket to Pilsner Paradise. Here's another bit of Etiquette to keep in mind. The beer will keep a-comin' unless you make some noises, so when you have arrived at what you judge to be your Final Beer of the session, tell your server upon receipt "Zaplatim, procim" ("I will pay, please"), and he or she will tally up the ticks on your beer tab and present you with your total, to be paid whenever you are next able to secure their attention. Do not be in any hurry! Conclude the visit with a sincere "Dekuji" ("Thank you" - try dee-KOO-yee and you'll be close), and you'll be, almost, ready for your next pub!
As much as I enjoyed U Hrocha, I would have to say that I didn't give it quite the same Yuk/Yummy rating as Ferdinanda. The Pilsner Urquell was delicious, but I actually found tastier PU at a future location. This did seem a bit extra-bitter in the aftertaste, although I was at some point using the beer to help swallow the really strong Beer Cheese I had ordered! A 7.5 out of 10 is my way of saying that I enjoyed this pub and would be delighted to return, but it wasn't the Best of Prague.
NEXT: Glug Glug Glug Went the Trolley!