Bohemian bread dumplings begging for brisk beers

Ah, finally! How long did I have to wait for this moment? I had imagined every single dish I once had at this restaurant over and over again. I could hardly wait to go back since I had really missed all the good memories, hearty dinners with friends and family, the good traditional fare and the beer-enlightened mood in which I often left my favourite Bohemian restaurant back in the day. I had to wait six years to climb the welcoming stairs into “Wenzel Prager Bierstuben” again, but today was the day!

The “Bierstuben”, and I will not call this restaurant a tavern or a bar since it is more like a beer hall than anything else (I’m not saying it isn’t cosy or welcoming but you would expect something else if I were to call it a “pub”), is located in Rostock-Warnemünde and only a stone’s throw away from the train station in the heart of the fishermen’s village (though Warnemünde really isn’t a quiet settlement anymore since it has became more and more touristy over the last quarter of a century). Even if you were to drink one meter of beer on your own (yes, they sell a meter of beer consisting of 12 300ml beers for a decent price) you shouldn’t need more than 10 minutes to stagger from the restaurant to the station.

The interior of the restaurant is rather rustic but has a modern touch to it which makes it really welcoming. I felt comfortable even before the waitress led me and my charming companion to our table, which on this occasion was illuminated by the sunlight since we choose to go out for lunch rather than our usual dinner date. Unfortunately, this was the last time we saw any of the waiters for a really long time but hey: at least we got a place in the sun, a comfy bench to sit on, and they even have some pretty interesting and mouth-watering reading material on each table in the form of the menu.

I knew what to expect on the menu since I have been fortunate enough to experience various Bohemian restaurants in the past and have been to the “Bierstuben” numerous times. I was looking for spicy goulash, soft bread dumplings, beery sauce, sweet-sour red cabbage, all kinds of soups and roasts, and I wasn’t disappointed. The only problem would be choosing a dish: I wanted it all and I wanted lots of it!

I forget to mention one key element, every page on the menu features at least a handful of beer-containing dishes, and the selection of premium Czech beers is mind-blowing and fairly dazzling if you are an amateur in the beautiful and tipsy-making world of beer. We had to wait more than 15 minutes to place our food order, which was pretty annoying, especially as my hunger was being stoked up by all the smells and dishes being served around us.

My decision for an entrée fell on a Ukrainian classic called “Borscht” which turned out to be a surprisingly salty soup. According to our waiter, the version served here is not based on the traditional recipe for this dish. At least he was honest, so I decided to give it a shot anyway. What a bad decision. It was so heavily oversalted that I asked myself and my companion if a) it was a strategy on the part of the restaurant to make their guests drink more beer or b) if the cook was so desperately in love that he just couldn’t handle the salt. (There’s a saying in Germany that the cook who uses too much salt is in love). Disappointed and dissatisfied I decided not to even finish it. Usually I would have made a complaint but the waiter even gave me a warning so what could I say?

Our mains arrived shortly after and I knew the disappointment wouldn’t be long-lived. Or at least that’s what I thought when I saw the waiter with our plates. After the first bite of my beef goulash in beer sauce with bread dumplings it was clear to me, however, that what I had dreamed of for so long could not be achieved today. Too bad so sad! The dumplings were not as fresh and soft as in my memory and according to my taste buds, this dish had too much salt as well. This, of course, is just my personal impression and overall the dark sauce harmonised really well with the beef, and the dumplings were soft enough to soak up all the rich and unique beer sauce. My expectations were not met by any means, but overall it was still a decent and classic dish that filled me up really well but didn’t satisfy me in the end. At least I got another beer to wash down my disappointment and the salty aftertaste of the meal.

If you’re looking for a classic Bohemian restaurant, if you have never had Bohemian food before, if you’re really hungry and like food that is a little salty and if you’re able to counter it with a beer or two, if you like beer in general or if you’re just curious you should definitely give “Wenzel Prager Bierstuben” a try since it is still a decent restaurant with good comfort food and great beers! I would not recommend it for “important” dates or meetings, but definitely for a night out with friends that you haven’t seen in a while. Don’t expect too much, and if you place value on decoration (the dishes were devoid of any kind of garnish – except one sad twig of parsley), if you have to watch your pennies (it is rather pricey – not saying that it isn’t worth it) or if you don’t like simple food this will not be your new favourite restaurant. If you are brave enough I would say try it anyway because this is the only way to find out if you like it or not. I personally will not be using the vouchers for the next visit they gave us as we paid the bill!

Felix Georgi

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