Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Rocky O'Reilly's

Let's say you feel like going to an Irish pub, having a decent dinner, and watching Premier League football. So, you get on a plane with 17 of your best friends and fly to Prague.

Happens every day.

Let's say you then go to Rocky O'Reilly's, billed as Prague's biggest Irish pub. If you do, odds are you won't run into me. I'm not there when football is on. Too crowded. But if there are no major sporting events going down, there's a chance you just might see me with a steak sandwich in my hand.G and I went the other day for dinner. The restaurant is divided in two. On one side, there is a smaller, separate bar and dining area. Next door, there is a space with a much larger room in the back. We scored a table in the small front room by the wood fire, which is not so easy during the winter.
As Prague pub food goes, Rocky's is on the pricey side, but pretty good. Then again, I haven't tried a lot of the menu. That's because I almost always get the steak sandwich. It costs 245 CZK, but the online menu is way out of date and says it is only 175 CZK.

If I feel like a big change, like getting a bit wild, I get the Fillet Steak. It's not that I don't like variety. Obviously, I eat all kinds of different food. It's just that I like Rocky's steak and steak sandwich so much.

The waitress came by. Male customers seem to like their uniforms -- micro-miniskirts, and tight white T-shirts with silk-screened hand prints over the breasts. Prague's version of Hooters. I haven't taken a survey, but some female customers may have a less enthusiastic response.

We ordered. G went for the steak sandwich. I got the Fillet Steak. When the food came, I waxed fanatic on the virtues of the sandwich sitting on G's plate.
"This is one of my favorite steak sandwiches of all time. First, the bread is great. I've never seen bread like this for sale anywhere else in Prague -- a long roll with a crunchy crust and a soft interior. Notice all the melted garlic butter on the inside."

"I noticed," G said.

"The slices of steak are thick and tender. Easy to take a bite out of without it pulling out of the bread. And the sautéed red onion and mushrooms. Simple and perfect. But you know what else I like?"


"No cheese."

"I like cheese on a steak sandwich."

"Most people do. But I think most steak sandwiches drown in cheese. It covers up the other flavors and generally makes a mess. For me, this is just right. Maybe I'll throw a little Heinz Soja on the top, teriyaki style."

I wrap up my riff on the steak sandwich. G is a good friend. He lets me talk it out.

The Fillet Steak is good, but you might consider it expensive at 395 CZK, considering the surroundings. The out-of-date online menu currently says it is 375 CZK.

The first time I had it, I remember being very impressed. The next couple of times, it was still very nice, but not as good as my first memory. It is very tender and comes in a buttery brown pool of gravy, I think from the pan. I will go back to the steak sandwich next time.

We shared an order of onion rings. These are good -- big, thick crunchy rings. G said he'd had better in the USA. Prague is not a big onion ring town in the first place. If you want some, Rocky's has the best.

They have two 10-degree beers, Gambrinus (28 CZK/.5l) and Budvar (45 CZK/.5l). I suppose I can understand why they don't sell the stronger Pilsner Urquell. They might have more of a crowd control problem on football nights. There is also Guinness (85 CZK/.4l), Strongbow Cider (85 CZK/.4). And there is Heineken (85 CZK/.5l), but I'm having a hard time imagining who would come to Prague and order that.

The menu includes dishes like Irish Stew, Cottage Pie, Fish and Chips, Chili con Carne, and a Beef Burrito. Rocky's also serve a few Irish-style breakfast dishes until noon. The prices may be aimed at tourists, but they do get quite a few Czechs in there, too.

If you go, there is also a good chance you'll see the barrel-chested proprietor of Rocky's, Robbie Norton, standing out front. I've never met him, but it is obvious he knows that taking care of his customers, many of whom are tourists, is a good business move.

On the wall, there is a list of 10 warnings to be heeded by visitors to Prague. They include such useful advice as don't change money on the street, watch out for dodgy taxi drivers, beware of pickpockets, and buy and stamp your tickets on public transportation. Seems obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people would have benefited from reading this list right after their arrival in town. You can find the list of warnings in full on Rocky's website.

This list is only missing one important warning: If you don't order the steak sandwich, you'll be sorry.

Rocky O'Reilly's
Štěpánská 32
Prague 1


Anonymous said...

If you like Irish pubs, give JJ Murphys in Mala Strana a whirl - decent interior, sofas upstairs, low-key crowd with good, well-priced food.

I can recommend the bangers & mash for 230 Kc.

Somehow the decor and location of Rockys puts me off.

Anonymous said...

The steak sandwich on ciabatta bread at Dinitz on Bilkova in the Jewish Quarter is hard to beat.

Brewsta said...

Totally agree about the interior. I've never sat anywhere but the window seat or by the fire. The back room is like a big, dark cave.

Wait,I did sit in the smaller side once.

Still haven't tried JJ's.

Will definitely go to Dinitz. Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

It is good occasionally, when they feel like treating locals like locals,

I mean I’ve been in there and got a good pint of Gambrinus for a good price 28,- , then the next night (when football is on) sorry we don't sell Gambrinus in here, only Budvar at 45,-

Anonymous said...

Haven't been to Dinitz on Bilkova since August when the wonderful Israeli chef Gilad departed, but I imagine they still serve up the great sandwiches.

They also have another one on Na Porici - great interior, live bands at w/e, although the food has always been better at the original one on Bilkova.

Give JJs a try, I think you might like it (esp. upstairs).

Brewsta said...

Been to the Dinitz on Na Porici, but only for music and drinks. Was always curious about the other location. I'd heard good things.

Anonymous said...

I ordered a sparkling water once at Rocky's and the expiry date was over a year old - it had no bubbles. The waitress refused to provide a drinkable one in exchange, and I've never been back. Molly Malones is a great Irish pub in the centre, http://www.mollymalones.cz.

Brewsta said...

Aged water, hmm? Unpleasant.

Never been to Molly's. Menu looks a bit limited. Have to admit I'm not really a bangers and mash kinda guy.

Anonymous said...

"Will definitely go to Dinitz"

Walked in and walked out. Tourist trap in my opinion.

One of those awful Irish places (sewing machines and crap all over the place) occupies a space that was once home to a sadly departed Prague great, Fakhreldine. A touch of Mayfair & Beirut in Praha- a real winner in it's day.

No demand for quality from the Easyjet mob. Deep fat frier, a beer keg & some buxom serving lasses is all that is required.

Unknown said...

Saw the signs for Rocky's around town the second full day (of two weeks) that I was in Praha - my host shrugged at my reaction, not understanding why I would be interested in an Irish pub.

I got in on my second last full day, when my host was at a conference and had left me with a map to explore the city on a Sunday - I ordered a Guinness and from halfway across the room I could see that a catastrophe was about to happen:

The Guinness was poured straight and sent out immediately - it was still a clouded, headless mush. My local pub is an Irish establishment in Canada, and they know how to pour a pint - they will not let it go to a customer unless it is settled and of full head. Beyond that, it was nice to be in a place where I could use English and where the English menu was not simply a typewritten translation with prices updated by hand.

All that said, I bought a staff t-shirt for one of the bartenders back at my local - she modelled it to the appreciation of the customers there for about ten minutes. Was quite surprised how the bill so quickly came to 950 Kc - the Guinness stew (it was okay, but I've had better for about 100 Kc less than their 245 Kc price) and three Guinness came to 500 Kc, the t-shirt was an almost painful 450 Kc. The signs showing that these are on sale show the prices for the kid's sizes much larger - 295 Kc iirc - who would buy that for a kid, though?