When in Prague, try authentic dishes from Bohemian cuisine in Hostinec U Kalicha. This restaurant played an important role in the life of the brave soldier Svejk, the main character in the novel of the same name that was written by the Czech novelist Jaroslav Hasek. U Kalicha was the favorite pub of Hasek.
This is the place where he made the Secret Police arrest Svejk. This is the place where Svejk spoke the famous words: "After the war at six in U Kalicha . . ." and continued, "Better if you come at half past six, in case I should be held up somewhere."
The entrance to Hostinec U Kalicha is easy to find. — Photo courtesy of Marianne Crone
If you are an admirer of The Good Soldier Svejk, you can follow in his footsteps and have a traditional Czech meal in Hostinec U Kalicha. All the walls are scribbled with quotations from the book, and all characters from the novel are present as wall paintings by Josef Lada, the illustrator of the book.
Photos of illustrious international celebrities - such as Jacques Chirac, Vaclav Havel and Lionel Jospin - grace the walls. Serious fans of The Good Soldier Svejk can even stock up on Svejk merchandise. If you are prepared to pay $12 for a beer glass, $6 for an ashtray and $10 for a mug, you will go home a happy person.
The interior of U Kalicha is original 1930s. The restaurant can seat several hundred guests. The menu is in twenty-four languages, showing that you are not the only foreign visitor.
In fact, it is hard to find any Czech people dining in U Kalicha. The reason may be that the dishes are slightly overpriced and beer is twice the price of what you pay in most other places. When your mug is empty, it will be swiftly replaced by another one unless you tell them explicitly that you don't want any more. They only serve half-liter glasses, not three deciliter as in other bars and restaurants.
Although the food is authentic, many a Czech prefers to go to a quieter restaurant serving dishes as his or her grandmother would cook them. Be aware that the small dishes of almonds that are place on the table and which you haven't requested are to be paid for.
Try authentic Czech cuisine like Bohemian goulash with dumplings. — Photo courtesy of Marianne Crone
While you are here, you might as well try roast goose with dumplings and red cabbage, pork knuckle with dumplings and sauerkraut or Bohemian goulash with bread dumplings. Vegetarians have a difficult time because only two dishes feature on the menu: asparagus with cheese and potatoes and scalloped cheese French fries. If you order a salad, ask if small pieces of chicken or pork have been added. This is not shown on the menu.
If you like meeting other foreign tourists, are a fan of The Good Soldier Svejk and don't mind paying 'tourist prices,' a meal in Hostinec U Kalicha is quite an experience.