Thursday, March 8, 2007

Olympia Restaurant

News Update: The Kolkovna Group has renamed Olympia. It is now called Kolkovna - Vítězná.

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.

There 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 like the potato pancakes. I did not.

The Kolkovna group owns two similar restaurants -- Kolkovna V Kolkovně 8 and Celnice at 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.

It's really not this dark

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.

Olympia
Vítězná 7
Prague 1
(+420) 251 511 080
Open every day 11:00-Midnight

30 comments:

Pingrid said...

Hi Brewsta! Your blog is great!
I'm going there next weekend with a group. I was there last summer and had good experiences. Our waiter was nice and spoke good english. The beer was good, but not as good as the beer at U zlatheo tygra. Maybe this is because the greasy duck I ate ruined the beer. I don't know. In fact was the beer the biggest disappointment. The roosted greasy duck was marvellous.

BTW Brewsta: have you tried Na Verandach in Smichov. Is it worth trying? I'm not a Staropramen drinker, but I have read that they have nice "Weiss-bier" on tap there a long with good pub dishes.

I have also ordered a table for the group I'm travelling with at The blue duckling II, Michalska. Do you have any comments about that? It will be much appreciated.

Brewsta said...

Hello Pingrid! And thanks. Good to see you over here.

I've actually not had problems at Olympia but, as I said, a few my friends, very assimilated expats, got annoyed with the attitude on two different visits. For example, a friend said the waiter snapped at him when he wasn't ready to order.

A number of my friends are also passionately anti-Staropramen. Sure, Pilsner Urquell is better, but some refuse to set foot in Staro pubs.

I read that a pub owner here said people would turn heal at the door when they saw the Staro taps. He switched to Pilsner and biz went up.

But breweries can be fun -- I wouldn't talk you out of it, by any means.

I haven't tried Na Verandach -- I don't get over to Smichov very often. But one benefit of the blog is people offer up lots of great suggestions.

Anonymous said...

dont they ever serve food on plates where u eat?? the wings look delicious

Escoffier said...

Awful place. Wouldn't step foot inside if you paid me. Some - note I say some - of the staff have a serious attitude problem and the cooking is boring - couple of steps above tourist slop. There is so much better just a few blocks away.

What about The Blue Duckling? Not sure - pricey isn't it?

Pingrid said...

Thanks Brewsta !

escoffier are you talking about Olympia or Na verandach? As a tourist you have limited time, and don't want to throw it away on mediocre restaurants/hospodas even at lunch. I was also thinking about visting Pilskny restaurant at Andels or Zlata Klas. I have travelled far and want to be near my hotel. Any comments about those places.

Escoffier said...

There is ONE place in Prague 1 that I love / full of well healed (not Louis Vuiton naff) Czechs. Problem is ---- it is difficult to get a table. The food is CONSISTENTLY good - the service great /super.

If I tell all - will it become even more diffcult to get a table? Answer: Yes.

If Brewta finds it - then OK. So please go ahead.

The places that you mention are not on my radar. Why? Expats stick to places they know - that is why this blog is a GOD SEND. Let Brewsta get burned - I'll stick to my known haunts. Thanks Brewsta!

Pingrid, if you say what you are after then I am sure you'll get good advice. Czech duck can be a delicacy that outranks its under cooked French counterpart. It is difficult to not get re heated crap if you do not know where to go. Is duck your thing?

The Prague Post and the "Faerie Cakes" are rightly dismissed for what they are.

Brewsta said...

Hi Pingrid,

I haven't tried the places you mention -- but I do have this advice. Ask Peb7 on Tripadvisor. I'll say here and now, that guy knows way more places than I do. I eat out a lot, but he has been to more places than me, by far.

Escoffier -- I hope you'll forgive me -- I went to Perfect Restaurant, I really wanted to like it, but I didn't. I'll have to explain in a post.

Anonymous said...

Okay, now I'm curious. I had ignored this particular blog entry and comments since I usually try to avoid anything owned by the Kolkovna group or any other chain restaurant for that matter (and let's be frank about this, this is a Czech version of TGI Friday's). But now I want to know what Escoffier's perfect restaurant is. It's okay to keep a restaurant secret, but it's not okay to dangle it in front of someone's eyes and then still insist on secrecy ...

Anonymous said...

Had some poor experiences at Olympia with both food and staff - the last time with a group of visitors was so bad I vowed never to return. Shame as I liked the interior.

Na Verandach suffers from a similar problem, and is another one I've blacklisted after rude, incompetent service and mediocre food. These two started off well when they opened but have IMO gone downhill in the last 2 years.

Zlaty Klas is a good Czech restaurant with fine Pilsner Urquell and above-average Czech food, inexpensive. The other Pilsner place you mention in Andel has v. good meat dishes, although the place is a bit smoky for my liking.
I also like Potrefena Husa in Andel - good service, some Belgian beers (brown Leffe on draft for 55 Kc), plus consistently good food.

Also worth a try is "Andelka" on the corner of Radlicka and Ostrovskeho - only been open a few months, good consistent cooking, attractive interior, 4-5 beers on draft.

Hope this helps.

Pingrid said...

Escoffier : I fully understand you. BTW: Perhaps a wild guess: Is your restaurant/pub located with the Rudolfinum? Or is it perhaps U Juridika?

Yes, duck and goose are my thing. In my spare time I actually hunt at them. But I'm a bad cook.

Pingrid said...

I saw your reply just now. Thanks a lot! I will try Zlaty klas. I don't drink belgian beer while I'm in Prague.

Escoffier said...

Brewsta: Perfect...is a real hit or miss place. I am not too keen on the interior - I am looking forward to your review. Did you do the buffet?

My pub shall stay under wraps for now. Pingrid's guesses are incorrect.

But here's a surprise: schweinhaxe in a tin (think juices), great service, reasonable value. Where? right by Wensceslas Sq behind that New Yorker clothes store. Do not know the name, and wouldn't have thought it was any good until I was tipped off. Can be very busy with loud types on Friday. Run by Italians, I think?

Duck? There's a specialty duck place - what's the name?

Really interested in your Perfect Restaraunt review. Keep it up!

Escoffier said...

Duck:
http://prague.tv/articles/dining/perpetuum

Anonymous said...

Under wraps??? Now I am REALLY curious ... Any idea when the unveiling might be?

Escoffier said...

Can't say. When you finally choose a name maybe? Messieur Anonymous!

Lunch: Now I went to the place behind New Yorker for the schweinhaxe - Kc 192 - comes in a baking tin (with cooking juices) served with plenty of bread & a plate of horseradish, mustard, onions etc. (Obviosuly use the bread to mop up the juices)

Think of it as a huge (it's big) hot pork sandwich. Good value + professional service. Shared tables means you have to be careful what time you go.

Curious to find such a place in that area.

Pingrid: I learn that the duck place I mentioned is fair to OK only. I like duck made at home - nobody sure where the best Czech duck is in Prague?

Brewsta said...

In case anyone is confused, schweinhaxe is called "koleno" in Czech and "pork knuckle" in English. A typical specialty here.

N'est-ce pas?

Escoffier said...

Merci! I was thinking about your sandwich problem for that area - hence the description.

Sante!

Escoffier said...

Talking about sandwiches - why don't you buy at Culinaria, Skořepka 9 - New York deli inspired sandwiches? That's your call. You have to order - they will deliver too.

Brewsta said...

They do have good sandwiches there. Been there many times. Sandwich prices are reasonable, but prices on some other things are crazy. Still, it is just a bit far for me to go there regularly during work hours. Don't always have good selection pre-made and calling ahead is too much bother sometimes. But thanks for reminding me - it will be a good place to write up.

Escoffier said...

I know that they used to do great salt beef sandwiches - that's what jogged my memory yesterday. Not too sure about some of the cooked dishes - agree about silly prices on "hard to find" gourmet jelly beans etc. Oh, the cakes are good.

Waiting for the Brewsta's "Perfect" review :-)

Anonymous said...

Culinaria is a good place and I wish it well. I only wish they would sort out their staff and ordering situation. They've been in business something like two years plus .. and I still have no idea exactly what their system is for ordering food, eating in, buying groceries, when I should pay, etc. And the staff looks just as confused. Once I ordered a sandwich to be made fresh and after about 10 minutes the guy ran up to me and put one of the already wrapped, freezer-burned ones in my hand and said I was lucky since they had already made one of the ones I wanted earlier that morning ... I don't think he understood that I ordered it special to be made fresh at that moment ... (little things like that tell me that Culinaria days ultimately are numbered ... ) I won't even go into things like $15 pancake mix and boxes of pop tarts.

Max said...

You say in your post that Olympia is one of the few places where you can get nepasterovana tankova plzen. Actually, there are a legion of them, with more and more opening. Bredovsky Dvur, U Zlateho Tygra, U Rudolfina, all of this in the centre. Plzensky Sklipek (great neighbourhood hospoda, really down at heel, with great service and really good ceska klasika) in Prague 6, Alej in Prague 4, just to mention a few. In all cases, the beer will cost you no more than 32Kc for half a litre.
Now, if you want to have a really good pint, I would recommend you start to visit the many micro breweries in Prague, Pivovar u Bulovky, in Liben, being my favorite. Or if you want to have a great beer experience, trying new stuff every time you go, nothing beats Pivovarsky Klub, in Krizikova. They have six different beers on tap that change all the time, most of them from small and independent Czech Breweries, and sometimes they brew their own stuff. The food is not bad, and the service is great. Most of the beers you will find there will be unpasteurized. And that is not all of it; they also have over bottled 200 beers local and imported.
About Olympia and the other restaurants from the chain. I think they are a rip-off. I can as good or better food, for better prices and better services in a multitude of other pubs. Granted that in most of them you will not find anyone who speaks English, but learning a bit of Czech hasn't killed anyone.

Brewsta said...

Thanks for the great info, Max. I eat a ton and been here for years, but I'd be the first to admit my knowledge is not comprehensive and has many gaps. I do know a few people who know a lot more about the scene than I. The more who want to share info, the better.

As for the disorganization at Culinaria -- I've seen that too. I know someone who refuses to go back because of it. But I always pick up a pre-made 99 CZK sandwich on the run so I don't really deal with it. OK, mabye a slice of cake, too.

The prices are crazy high, but to be fair, I bought Bisquick pancake mix for 99 CZK there. One box made quite a lot of pancakes on a ski trip

Perfect Restaurant will be next week some time, but I can't say when. I have a few visits to be posted.

Max said...

Brewsta,

Glad to be of help. I do know tonnes of places, but most of them are of the cheap (but good) kind. I favor the neighbourhood joint over the posh restaurant.
I've been here for almost five years, and I must say I know Prague better than many locals. And I also write my own column and blog about restaurants, czech food, czech culinary traditions and czech beer, but in Spanish.
If you are up for it, I would love to get in touch with you directly and talk more about pivo and knedliky. :) Just let me know how.
Take care,
MAX

Brewsta said...

Don't want to give out my email address on the blog right now, but if you get a login at either expats.cz or tripadvisor.com, I comment and give advice on both sites under the name Brewsta and they both offer indirect email.

Eve said...

I've never actually bought anything at Culinaria, but I have to give them major Chutzpah Points.

I think the most impressive example was 200 kc for a can of Libby's pumpkin the Thanksgiving before last. To put this into perspective, I bought two whole pumpkins (enough for 3 pies and a big batch of roasted spicy pumpkin seeds) for less money from a Vietnamese OZ.

If you're in that neighbourhood and after a quick cheap lunch though, there is a little Yugoslavian cafe in a pasaz off Havelska which does really tasty food.

Anonymous said...

-- I don't get over to Smichov very often


You say the above,then in a further blog go on about your local pub being on Ujezd,and how you now go to wigwam on Zborovska.They are about 30 metres from Smichov.
Or is it just your pathological hatred of Staropramen that stops you visiting their brewery?

Brewsta said...

You are grasping at straws, troll.

The fact that Wigwam is close to Smichov doesn't change the fact that I rarely go to Smichov.

Show me where I said I hate Staropramen and you win a prize.

Anonymous said...

Lokse are, as far as I know, more traditional Slovak than traditional Czech. At least they are fairly common there but I've never seen them in Czech Republic. Perhaps like langos originally hungarian even, though I'm not 100% sure, but it's not very slavic sounding.

Anonymous said...

Hi
I live Norway.We have an Olympia Restaurant here(greek restaurant)
Is these a sister company or what?If not,,Is it allowed to=
copy the Olympia logo?

pls check it:www.olympiarestaurant.no