Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Prague Post's Dave Faries - A Parody Review

i’m lovin’ it

McDonald's Big Mac consistently lands punches to the palate
Restaurant Review Archives
By Dave Faries*
Staff Writer, The Prague Post
January 29
th, 2008 issue

If you’ve ever gotten drunk, read F. Scott Fitzgerald, and then tried to write a restaurant column, you’ll understand what I have to say about my visit to McDonald's.

It’s less “The Great Gatsby” and more “This Side of Paradise.”(1) But a comparison to Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” might be more appropriate (2).

Know what I mean? No? Well, it doesn't matter.

At the Wenceslas Square location, I went straight for the specialty that has brought this restaurant so much critical attention, the Big Mac. As Prague's foremost burger expert (3), I am able to discard personal likes and dislikes in favor of a hard-nosed assessment of this quintessentially American sandwich (4)

Everyone knows it comes with two all-beef patties. However, if my Big Mac had one weakness, it was that the beef was not as grassy as I'd hoped. The meat should speak of freshly cut lawns on a hot summer day.

For example, I much preferred the grassy undertones of the steak at Gott Gallery (5). That was quite different than the almost grassy beef at La Veranda (6). Based on my experience, the filet at Monsoon rates higher on my grassy scale (7). But, I was also very impressed with the organic beef at La Degustation, which was redolent of the great green grass of Argentina (8).

Only true beef lovers and, of course, the more sophisticated restaurant critics, understand the importance of grassiness in a steak. I could write a whole column about it (9).

After the first bite of the Big Mac, I noticed a prick on my tongue. It's a sensation I'm always looking for. But it was nothing like the big prick that came with the freshly cracked pepper at Styl (10). It was more reminiscent of the little prick I had in my mouth after biting into that cod piece at Gordon Ramsay's place (11). Or maybe it was more like Karel Gott's timid prick (12) .

As many are aware, the Big Mac does not have the cloying tomato coulis that is so ubiquitous atop many of the restaurant's other offerings. It does have a so-called Special Sauce, which reminds one of the intricacy of a good mirepoix and indicates grounding in traditional cooking techniques (13). The onions were breviloquent (14). I didn't expect it, despite my exegetic reading of the menu and ingredients posted on the wall (15).

Let's talk about the pickles. These little circles of sourness wield daggers that jab your palate with impunity (16). The lettuce takes full advantage of the furious attack, parrying it with a watery blandness. 

Then, the salt hits you like uppercuts to the mouth that belt your palate with salvo after salvo of salinity. The violence of the toppings is only calmed by cheese (17). In the end, the sesame seed bun grabs them all and wrenches them to the ground (18).

As I see it, the Big Mac is Prague's best burger. It is even better than the Balkan pljeskavice at Mon Ami, which I consider a hamburger, but which laymen bloggers think is crazy talk.

But what do they know? First of all, they probably never worked at a free alternative weekly in Dallas like I have. Second, who can take these no-names seriously? They don't stand behind their work (20).

I do. I'm Dave Faries, dammit.


* The article is a parody. It did not actually appear in The Prague Post and was not actually written by Dave Faries.

However, it's not that different from what he writes. The numbers in the blog post relate directly to the real words of this unintentional master of self parody:

(1) "In his classic The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald cautions readers against the natural human desire to recapture moments past. If I remember correctly, nostalgic reverie has some pretty devastating consequences. Sam Waterston as a neighbor, for one."

(2) "In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, Humpty Dumpty declares that a word 'means just what I choose it to mean — nothing more, nothing less.' Thus empowered, he elects to say 'glory' in place of 'knock-down, drag-out argument' or 'impenetrably' to express his desire to change topics. Clearly, any conversation with the large egg could easily devolve into a confusing mess. U Slavíků, the new restaurant lodged in the space once occupied by Rudý Baron, is a model of such incoherence."

(3) The Prague Post, September 26, 2007, "The Grill of Victory" by Dave Faries

(4) "She understands the importance of accuracy, of discarding personal likes and dislikes in favor of hard-nosed assessment."

(5) "Otherwise, a gentle seasoning hand allows the flavor of beef to step forward — sour, grassy undertones in this case, with very little heft."

(15) "The proprietor, hiding behind the pseudonym 'Brewsta,' makes it clear he’s not a professional. But his entries are fun reading and much more exegetic than the usual blog-stopper stuff out there. I use the word “exegetic” just for Brewsta’s benefit. He took me to task for using “breviloquent” in print."

(16) "As a jjigae (stew), however, the stuff wields daggers — a coal-fire red broth that clutches your palate and begins jabbing away with impunity."

(17) "Yet it still met traditional standards and the mixture of spinach and gorgonzola belts your palate with salvo after salvo of pungent bitterness, calmed only by cream."

(18) "But pancetta is the heart of it — grabbing the bright taste of crushed tomato and wrenching it to the ground, uppercutting herbs with strokes of salt."

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Angel (Closed)

"I feel that there is an angel inside me whom I am constantly shocking." Jean Cocteau
We came to to the door of the restaurant, Angel, with lofty expectations.The chef, Sofia Smith, has worked in a variety of different places and positions around Prague over the years. And it says something that she's developed something of a following in the expat community.

Although she did occasionally cook at Atelier in Vršovice, and we used to be regulars there before an ownership change, we had never tried her food. So, we were curious.

When we walked into Angel, we got a warm welcome from the smiling young waiter. He used to work at Atelier and remembered us.

At Angel, you can see a lot of thought went into the design of the dining room. They did a beautiful job. You would never know that, a short time ago, it used to be a cocktail bar called Ocean Drive.

Lighting was low and on the romantic side. The beige color scheme throughout adds to the intimate atmosphere. The music was at the right level.

I particularly liked the unique chandelier of delicate, woven gold.It all works well together. Flash photography doesn't do it justice.

We came early and enjoyed having the restaurant to ourselves for the first part of the evening. The single dining room is not large and some tables were quite close together.

It did get a little noisy after four other parties came in. I'd think the rumble of conversation could be quite high on a busy night.

All the restaurant guests were speaking English except for two Czech men.

It took a while for the bread to come. The round little bread rolls were both nice to look at and nice to eat.They were served perfectly warm. They were even mildly spicy with little nuggets of cheese, I believe, baked in.

I'm always impressed when a restaurant puts extra thought into the bread. That's a lesson that still needed to be learned at maze by Gordon Ramsay when we were there last month.

For a starter, I had the hot and sour seared beef and pomelo salad served with green chili and garlic dressing and peanut praline (245 CZK). The appetizers were relatively small portions, but they offered up some big, eye-opening flavors.The pomelo was broken into yellow diamonds in the rough that added little bursts of flavor. The meat was very rare and tender. Fresh mint also had a clear presence among various other leaves. There was a liberal amount of fish sauce in there.

The tiny candied nuggets of peanut were an interesting, unexpectedly sweet addition, though the taste of peanut did not come through clearly.

The same was true of the dressing. It was pleasantly acidic, but the green chili and garlic was subdued.

V had the lamb satay Madura with sweet soy and tamarind served with pickled vegetables in lime leaf dressing (230 CZK). The chopped meat, mixed with spices, was on two wooden skewers. A sweet dense dollop of a peanut satay sauce sat on the side.The lamb was tasty, but I only wished it was as boldly seasoned as my salad. The meat and chopped peanuts went well together on the fork. We both really enjoyed the simple, finely sliced cold vegetables with the strong perfume of lime leaf.

For a main course, V had the pan-fried scallops with yonya coconut laksa served with pineapple sambal, crispy shallots, and Vietnamese mint (525 CZK). The big, delicate scallops were lightly seared with an expert touch. Each bite was a pleasure.The rich and spicy coconut gravy was great. Again, there was the power of lime leaf, which is one of my favorite ingredients in Asian cooking. Honestly, I've never had Vietnamese mint so I had trouble discerning how it influenced the flavor, unless it tastes a lot like lime leaf.

There was plenty of pineapple, thoughtfully cut into very small, pieces that were easy to scoop up.

The dish comes with a mound of black pasta in the center. I only wish there was more. It was gone very quickly, and there was still a lot of sauce left. Not wanting to waste a drop, I soaked it all up with pieces from our second plate of bread.

I ordered the seared tuna with tamarind and chili, served with gingered sweet potato puree and crispy seaweed (490 CZK).

In many other restaurants, I've had trouble with this dish. Many chefs in Prague seem to fear rareness in a tuna and cook it all the way through.

I began to tell the waiter how rare I wanted it, and he told me not to worry. Of course, it would be done properly -- very rare.

And it did come out perfectly. There were two good-sized triangles of very fresh tuna with beautiful red interiors.The tamarind and chili sauce was nicely sweet, but not very spicy. The bread may have even been spicier. The mashed sweet potatoes were good, but I was a little disappointed I couldn't taste the ginger.

Throughout the meal, I drank three bottles of Leffe Brune, a strong dark Belgian beer (75 CZK each). It was definitely a nice change after all the Czech beer I've been drinking lately (not that I don't love that stuff, too).

We wished Angel also had Leffe Blonde, which became one of our favorites after V spent some time in Brussels. V tried the Leffe, but had two glasses of Villa Wolf Riesling at 105 CZK each.

I decided we needed to sample at least one dessert. I'll almost always go for something chocolate, and in this case, I was sorely tempted by the flourless chocolate cake served with peppermint and cardamon ice cream (155 CZK).

But I decided to be different and try my first-ever sticky toffee pudding (155 CZK). It was served with preserved ginger and almond ice cream.The pudding was a small, rich, intensely sweet cake with the very strong essence of orange peel. It was served warm, almost hot, and the cake had soaked up a large amount of the dark toffee. I have a big sweet tooth, so that wasn't a problem.

The ice cream was homemade and unlike any I'd had before. It didn't blow me away, but it was nice change of pace.

All the courses came out pretty slowly, and the meal did take a long time. That was more of a kitchen issue, as we were the first ones in the restaurant.

However, the waiter and waitress also did get a little overloaded when several parties came in at once. As a former waiter, I can be understanding when that happens.

Another small thing was that it was a little too warm in the dining room, and it made us feel sleepy by the end of dinner.

To be fair, Angel had only been open a couple of weeks.

I'm not sure how everyone will feel about the Asian flavors that are fused on Angel's plates. For us, they were very familiar.

We actually cook many similar dishes at home. We use lots of the same ingredients -- lime leaf, ginger, coconut milk, red chili, chopped peanuts, tamarind, and fish sauce.

In fact, V found them almost too familiar. I don't think that will be the case for most people. She liked Angel, but was a little less impressed than I was. Even so, she told me to make sure to say she loved the scallops.

Along with the bill came some very nice sweets. We each got a ball of coconut cream in coconut flakes and also some very intense, cocoa-dusted dark chocolate.The chocolate was bitter, with even a touch of sourness to it. It was too strong for V, so I finished hers, as well. I loved it. I had no coffee, but I actually had trouble sleeping later that evening.

Chocolate does not have caffeine, as many people believe, but it does contain a different, longer-lasting stimulant.

The dinner cost 2080 CZK before tip -- not cheap and more than we usually spend for a nice meal. Still, it was half what we spent at maze by Gordon Ramsay. That was the most expensive meal we've had in Prague.

Some might be shocked, but I'd say we found more value and enjoyment at Angel.

We left with a happy feeling inside.

V kolkovně 7
Prague 1
Tel. (+420) 773 222 422

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Starbucks Coffee - Prague

"Starbucks says they are going to start putting religious quotes on cups. The very first one will say, 'Jesus! This cup is expensive!'" Conan O'Brien
It's been talked about for a long time, but Starbucks™ has finally arrived in Prague™ . Two mega-brands, together at last.

Using its own particular brand of black coffee magic, the international chain's first store appeared almost overnight in the Czech capital. Not long ago, the restaurant, Square, occupied the same space. That fancy food spot had taken over what had been a history and memory-laden coffee house in the Palác Grömlingovský at Malostranské náměstí.

I went to the Starbucks™ grand opening party. The place was packed when I got to the door. But that's as far as I got."I'm sorry, sir," said the man with the posh British accent. "This is a VIP only party. We would love to have you come by and visit us tomorrow."

I didn't know it was going to be a gala event, but I'm not the type to go to watch the invited press suck down freebies, anyway.

I am the type to press my nose against windows. Or my camera. So, I took some photos and observed omnisciently.

There was a particularly rich scene out in front. I witnessed an old Czech woman ripping angrily into the clipboard-wielding PR guy.

She was basically saying "There used to be a Czech coffeehouse here. This fancy new Starbucks™ doesn't belong here! Take it away!"

Clipboard man was saying coffee was being served again as it was in the past. Isn't that great?

This did nothing to appease the woman. She kept up her one-woman battle to rid historic Prague of this incursion by modern messiahs of the macchiato.

"I'm sorry. There's really nothing I can do," the man said.

He threw up his hands and walked away. But she wouldn't give up and kept at him. Again, he walked away. She zealously went after him again.

Finally, after sensing the clock could not be turned back, and the man kept turning his back, she gave up hoping that the old coffee house could be resurrected.

Inside, there was a mad scene of a different sort at the ordering counter.

VIP guests looked like commodities traders, signaling furiously to the baristas for their coffee futures. Perhaps it was because they didn't have pay to serious cash for immediate delivery of their grande caramel cappuccinos.

There was some music to keep the hopped up guests entertained as they consumed their half-caf, no foam, cinnamon-dusted lattes. And muffins.I'm sure this place will pull in tons of tourists, given their lack of familiarity with the value of the local currency and the store's prime location.

It might also attract some local eye candy looking for a place to pause and pose.Now, if you follow the expat discussion boards on the arrival of Starbucks™, the sentiment is heavily on the negative side.

As for me, I have enjoyed a Starbucks™ plain iced coffee on occasion on a hot day in New York. I won't deny it.

However, I have never enjoyed long lines. These are a regular feature at U.S. Starbucks™, and I have never stood in one.

Even more, it was hard for me to enjoy a coffee drink when it cost around $5 in New York. A 100 CZK cup in Prague™ isn't going to do a lot for my penny-pinching soul.

But because I care about you, the reader, so much, I dipped into my hard-earned savings for an exploratory visit. After deciding to compromise my wallet, I had to compromise on another long-standing principle, as well.

There was a decent-sized line when I got there. Yes, I stood in it.Perhaps there were ten people ahead of me at around 6 pm.

The average price for coffee drinks was around 100 CZK. The price for many of the desserts and sandwiches was also around 100 CZK.

Ordering a coffee here is no simple matter. Here are some instructions.I got to the counter in about ten minutes and ordered a grande Iced Caffè Americano(70 CZK) and a chicken pesto ciabatta (109 CZK). It took another 10 minutes or so to get my drink and sandwich.An investment of 20 minutes and 179 CZK, altogether.

Starbucks™ describes the Iced Caffè Americano this way: "Rich, full-bodied Starbucks® espresso is combined with cold filtered water and ice for a crisp and refreshing drink."

Cold filtered water? I watched the barista throw the espresso into the cup of ice and then hold it under a tap in the sink to top it off.

The result? Watery. Plus, I forgot to ask for milk, so I sucked down several gulps and filled the space with milk from a jug at the other counter.

The sandwich was served warm. The ciabatta seemed to have come from a factory. It was more spongy than crunchy.The fresh basil leaves were a nice touch, and the pesto was good. But the sliced, roast chicken had a bit of a musty, aged taste that was accentuated by the reheating process.

If I really need a sandwich, I'd rather go a block down the street to Subway.

There are a couple of different rooms upstairs with some big, very comfortable chairs. But because they take up so much space, there aren't a lot of them.There is also a pretty big space downstairs with a mix of big chairs and smaller wooden ones. There were more open tables down there.Of course, you can buy bags of Starbucks™ coffee to make at home, if you like. There are also expensive souvenir Prague™ Starbucks™ coffee mugs.

I happen to walk by the store again later in evening, around 8:30 pm. There was no line.

In the future, I may venture again into a Prague™ Starbucks™ under certain conditions.

Like if I'm in the area, it's hot outside, I'm in the mood for iced coffee, there's no line, I just hit the bank machine, and I'm feeling flush with cash.

Otherwise, not.

They do charge an ungodly amount of money.

Starbucks Coffee
Palác Grömlingovský
Malostranské náměstí 28
Prague™ 1

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Tiger Tiger Closing

"After your death you will be what you were before your birth."
-Arthur Schopenhauer

By random chance, I heard today that Tiger Tiger, the Vinohrady Thai restaurant, is closing down forever after tonight.Word has it that the owners of the building don't want a restaurant in the space. The apartments there have gone upscale, and they reportedly don't think a dining establishment fits in with the fancy image.

So I was told.

I also heard that all drinks will be 50% off tonight in something of an "everything must go" sale. I only have this from one source, so don't sue me if I'm wrong.Last March, I wrote a post about one of the restaurant's better curry dishes.

But Tiger Tiger's offerings never blew me away. To be fair, no Thai restaurant in Prague really knocks my socks off, either.

Still, it was good to know it was there in case a Pad Thai craving suddenly hit me on the way home.

I'm sorry to see it go.

RIP Tiger Tiger

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Auberge de Provence

"Life is a pilgrimage. The wise man does not rest by the roadside inns. He marches direct to the illimitable domain of eternal bliss, his ultimate destination."
-Swami Sivananda
Prague's dark, gray winter was getting us down, and we had a strong urge to get out of town.

We hadn't made any plans, and didn't want to drive too long, so I came up with this proposal: We'd give the city a rest and go to a roadside inn outside the center for lunch.

We'd drive out, just past the airport, to the Prague West village Tuchoměřice and go to Auberge de Provence.I'd read a lot about this place and had also gotten a recommendation from a friend.

The air that day had the stinging smell of burning coal and an unpleasant inversion haze hung over the valley. Ironically, the air was actually cleaner in the center of Prague.

After getting off the highway, we followed a long and winding road that didn't have a lot of signs. The area is not as pleasant as you might think. The landscape's farms and villages are mixed with mega-warehouses and business parks.

The Auberge de Provence has a courtyard and an outdoor grill. It could be pleasant there in summer.The interior has stone walls and thick wood support beams. There's plenty of kitsch, like antlers, boots, and even a boat hanging from the ceiling.Lots of restaurants do this, but it's not too over the top here.

The waiter brought out warm, light baguette slices served with butter mixed with shallot and chive, I believe. V asked the waiter a few questons about the restauant and the food.

He used a lot cutsie Czech diminutive names in many of his descriptions. V finds this annoying.

There was an amuse bouche of chopped and mixed tomato, basil, and mozzarella.

We were amused that it was served on edible spoons that tasted like bread sticks. We not amused that the spoons were slightly stale.

I ordered the crottin de chevre en croute. The menu said it was"warm goat cheese and smoked duck breast in puffed pastry" (230 CZK). The pastry was coated with honey and had a cinnamon stick in it.Once a fork hit the crust, the hot, liquid goat cheese spread out on the plate.

I could not really detect any smoked flavor and the duck meat was a bit gray.

Still, it was a warm, sweet, salty, and satisfying starter.

V had moules au basilic, described as mussels broiled with tomatoes and basil served with herbed crostini.

The flavor of the basil was very pronounced in the sauce. The cherry tomatoes were on the sour side.It was not served wtih herbed crostini, but I didn't realize anything was missing until I looked at the menu on the internet.

For a main course, I had the steak and "Belgian frittes" (335 CZK). It was a fairly large and thick rumpsteak with a light pepper sauce. I added some extra salt. It said it came with a salad, but the leaf and tomato on the side didn't really qualify as a salad in my book.Regarding the size, it was certainly much larger than the steak I had with frites at Brasserie M a while ago. I wrote a post about that. However, Auberge's beef was very sinewy and not so easy to chew. The flavor was not bad, but nothing to write home about.

The frites were OK, but their standard size, shape, and taste indicated they almost certainly came from a supermarket. I'm not sure what made them Belgian. From Delvita, perhaps?

V ordered the sautéed lobster with herb butter and French bread (680 CZK). She loved it, and not a single morsel went to waste. She justified the extravagance by saying, "Well, we're not staying overnight at the inn, so with the money we've saved.."

It was a fairly small crustacean, split down the middle, heavily seasoned with salt, pepper, and other spices, and fried with butter.The waiter said it was being freshly prepared for us, so it was a little odd that it was barely warm when it came to the table.

I thought it was a bit overcooked and a little too salty. But V would not let me spoil her enjoyment with small complaints. She liked it, and that was that.

V ordered a . 1 liter glass of Bohemia sekt, Czech sparkling wine (50 CZK). She followed that up with her favorite beer, Leffe Blond (50 CZK).

The restaurant had Belgian Trappist and fruit beers, if you are into that. They were all around 100 CZK for .33 liter bottles.

I was driving and stuck to Mattoni sparkling mineral water (45 CZK).

The only dessert I considered was a Belgian waffle with warm fruit (140 CZK), but it wasn't available, so we just got the check.

I looked at the bill when we got home and noticed that instead of sekt, it said V had 2 "Prosecco 0,1" which cost a total of 100 CZK. There's no question that the one small glass was .1 liter, and there was a listing for sekt at 50 CZK on the menu, so it looks like they overcharged us by 50 CZK.

My feeling was it was pretty good food that was reasonably priced for what you get. I can't say I loved it. Plus, the mistake on the bill made me regret the nice tip I left. What I liked best, perhaps, was that it was not in Prague.

On the other hand, V said she enjoyed the experience at Auberge de Provence. She really liked her lobster and pointed out that, as expensive as it was, it was cheaper than most lobster dishes in town.

After our meal, we decided to explore the area. On the advice of Grant, from Grant's Prague Bike Blog, we visited the ruins of the 14th century Gothic castle at Okoř.He even said that the Hotel Okoř served up one of the best steaks he'd ever had. Since he is a former food critic himself, I hope we can go for a rest at this roadside inn and taste those steaks ourselves.

Life's pilgrimage toward eternal bliss will have to wait.

Auberge de Provence
U Špejcharu 355

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Chateau Rouge (Chapeau Rouge)

"Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company."
-Mark Twain
A friend's band was playing at Chateau l'Enfer Rouge** (Red Hell Castle) on a Friday night.

It's not a usual hangout, but I headed over with a few guys to catch the show.

This bar-disco-music club been around since 1994 and used to be called Chapeau Rouge**. They had to change the name because of copyright issues.

These days, most people just call it Chateau or Chateau Rouge**.

Chateau** is a dark, ragged, red-cloaked bar that is not too far from Old Town Square. It has an international, yet seedy vibe that you won't find in too many other places around the city. The website actually says it was modeled after an Irish pub.

Inside, I found the usual mix of tourists, expats, and Czechs. It was packed later in the evening.The layout is very poor, and it was hard to get from one side of the two-room bar to the other without going outside and coming in the second entrance.

In 2003, Chateau expanded and created a dance club and bar in the basement.

That basement bar area almost always seems to be filled with American students.

But you'll find a few Czechs down there, too.

Next to the bar, there is a drab space with a peeling red paint job.

The floor is painted red and even that is peeling.

It has a sad little lighting system. It reminded me a bit of the basement of a college fraternity.

Perhaps because of the aesthetic deficiencies, the club invested in a heavy-duty fog machine.

It's not quite as foggy as it looks in the picture. The flash doesn't penetrate it too well.

Even so, the less you see, the better.

But wait, there's more. In the sub-basement, two levels down, there is a small space for live music called Chateau Underground.

I paid 100 CZK, got a stamp on my hand, and headed downstairs.

The sub-basement was recently reconstructed, and they did a good job with it. I saw bands there before the makeover.

Back then, it was hell-hole with bare concrete, exposed pipes, and a fine patina of filth.

Those were the days.

In the here and now, the first band I saw was The Tower of Dudes. They deployed an accordion, a mandolin/banjo, drums, bass, and a guitar.

I got there early and watched them do their sound check.I included this picture because the lights were up and it gives you a sense of what the room is like.

So, who are these dudes? This is from the band's Myspace bio:
The Tower of Dudes is one of the finest drunk bands you will ever see live. This mix of country, punk, pivo and germ warfare is guaranteed to make you dance and sing (or curse and boo) until this most glorious band of half-crazed misfits explodes. (Do people even read these bios?)
Apparently we do, Dudes.

Their lead singer is Johnny Feelings. Here's a short burst of their style.

It's not clear in the video, but the accordion playing dude is actually a dudette.

The headliners were The Careless Guys, a British-American-Canadian-Czech rock outfit. Led by a gentleman named Steve Cautious, the band's drummer and bass player have both worked as war correspondents.

In other words, you wouldn't call them cautious.

The guitarist in the big black wig is known as Noah Lowance. But without his wig, Noah is really Johnny Feelings. In case you care.

Here's a sample of The Careless Guys.

A few girls were dancing there at the end, and it was good fun.

I forgot to mention some other important information about the live music club. There is a very small bar in a separate room, and if memory serves, a half-liter of Staropramen in a plastic cup is 25 CZK. I think the price was higher upstairs, but you get a glass.

It takes just about three or four people to fill that cramped bar area. The passage leading to it is also very narrow. Later in the evening, it was almost impossible to get into it.

There was also a serious build-up of cigarette smoke -- Too many smokers and not enough ventilation. At a certain point, I couldn't take it anymore and had to move up to the top floor bar.

There, I was accosted by an Englishman with a pathological need to tell total strangers fantastically obvious falsehoods about his life.

Obviously, it was time to go.

The live music was over, the Europop was chirping, the bar was packed too tight, and people were getting weird.

As I searched for an exit, Chateau l'Enfer Rouge felt less like Twain's version of hell and more like Jean-Paul Sartre's.

"L'enfer, c'est les autres," he wrote. "Hell is other people."

Chateau L'Enfer Rouge
Jakubská 2
Prague 1
Tel. (+420) 222 316 328

**I received this e-mail from the club management in Sept. 2008:
We would like to inform you about renaming of our club to Chapeau Rouge (the former names were Chateau Rouge or L´enfer rouge). Chapeau Rouge is returning to its original name from 1919.

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