Renault: What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Renault: The waters? What waters? We're in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.
If you come to Mariánské Lázně for the waters, you are in the right place. If you come for the food, you were misinformed.
The spa town is definitely worth a visit if you enjoy looking at restored grand hotels or nature walk in the nearby woods. And, of course, there are the spa treatments if you like that sort of things. There may be some good places to eat that are hidden away in the hotels. We didn't see them. Granted, we didn't look very hard.
The town's main street, Hlavní třída, is full of shops selling tourist kitsch and the large, round sugar wafers that the city guide calls "spa waffles" (Lázeňské oplatky). The streets and restaurants are pretty deserted in the winter.
We were in a bit of a hurry, so we thought we'd just find into a decent place for lunch while walking down this central street. We were wrong.
One hotel restaurant looked decent from the outside and very depressing on the inside. We walked out. Then, we saw the Churchill Pub and Restaurant in the Hotel Excelsior.
Inside it looked very clubby, with wood paneled walls, big, stuffed leather booths, and a picture of Sir Winston on the wall. A little more inviting than the other place.
V got chicken with tomato sauce (180 CZK). The chicken was chopped into small granules of meat. The sauce itself had a ketchup and water base. A coulis, if you will. V also had a small salad of lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and cucumbers (30 CZK). No dressing. Oil and vinegar available on request.
I had penne with four slivers of sun-dried tomato, four slivers of sautéed onion, olive oil, flecks of tasteless basil, and Parmesan cheese (105 CZK). Not bad, actually. I like minimalism.
For drinks, we had a couple of bottles of Mattoni mineral water (30 CZK each). V had the house red at 60 CZK a glass (20 cl).
Shortly after we came in, I noticed the music. It was the Muzak version of "Feelings." As the next song began, I realized it was the Muzak version of "Feelings."
"They're playing the same song over and over again," I said.
Luckily for V, she had never heard this tune before, so the full effect was somewhat lost on her. As for me, at the beginning of the meal I was laughing. By the end, I was crying. Lunch was an emotional roller coaster. I needed to get off.
Before we left, I had a shot of Becherovka to calm my nerves. Then, I had a shot of Fernet Citrus. To help me forget.
Churchill Pub and Restaurant
Orea Hotel Excelsior
Tel. 354 697 111