Do you ever feel like you’ve had enough exotic tastes from all over the world and you’re in the mood for an authentic Czech meal? If your answer is yes, you should give Lokál a try. There are five Lokál restaurants in Prague and, given its unprecedented success, there could be more to come.
Lokál draws inspiration from traditional Czech cookbooks while at the same time reflecting contemporary cooking trends. So do not expect a leather-bound menu with dozens of pages and dishes. Lokál’s daily offering comfortably fits on just one sheet of paper, and yet nothing is missing - appetizers, salads, soups, main courses and desserts – all of these have their place on the menu. It is tank beer, however, that plays the main role here. Pilsner Urquell literally flows at Lokál all day long, because the consumption of hearty meals works up an appetite for beer and vice versa.
You can visit Lokál, which is an offshoot of Ambiente restaurants, outside of the city of Prague. It is also located in Plzeň, where Lokál is symbolically placed due to it also being the home of its Pilsner Urquell beer. The third location is Brno, where Lokál opened in the summer of 2015. No matter which one you visit you won’t find better beer with a thicker foam anywhere else. We recommend you to try all three styles of beer on tap – hladinka (flat head beer), schnitt (half foam), and mlíko (full foam).
Although Lokál draws inspiration from common Czech pubs, it offers quality gastronomy. How did you manage to combine those two antipoles?
We cook from common ingredients and we don’t use any substitutes, artifical flavouring and other tricks that spread in pubs so that the cooks get extra time and lower the expenses. We cook according to classical Czech recipes in the old traditional way. For instance, we make bouillon from meat and vegetables during the night and use it in the basis of sauces, we fry the schnitzel on butter or lard. It is important for us to use the best ingredients.
One finds specifically Czech traditional dishes like smažák (fried cheese) with potato salad on the menu. How do these dishes appeal to the tourists?
They like them. Fried cheese and schnitzels are the two favourite dishes on the menu. Of course it sometimes happens that the tourists order an inappropriate side dish as dumplings or kolínka with the Czech classics. In those cases we try to explain that in combination with potatoes or potato salad they’ll enjoy it much more.
Lokál is most of all a paradise for beer drinkers. What distinguishes a true bartender?
Carefully treated beer. Our bartenders take care of it from the moment it comes to the restaurant till the point they put it on the table. We keep to these rules so that the beer tastes fresh till the very last drop: good beer, conscientious bartender, short tubes, constant temperature and clean glass.
There are various ways you tap Pilsner beer. Could you explain the differences among them?
The three ways we usually tap beer are called hladinka, šnyt and mlíko. Hladinka is not as popular as the others although it is the most gentle way to tap beer. In this case, beer is tapped in one flow, foam comes first and it serves to keep the beer from becoming flat. Šnyt is something that other pubs only offer to their regulars but at Lokál anyone can have it. Bartenders used to drink šnyt to taste the quality of their beer. Karel Čapek described Šnyt in Lidové Noviny (a newspaper) in 1936 as “a pint that isn’t full, with foam reaching about to half of the pint; the amount of foam in the pint depends solely on the good will of the bartender.” That said, in Lokál you will, therefore, never face the dilemma of “having one more” or “no more”. Šnyt is not only more than nothing, it is in a way as much as you could ever get. It is a perfect picture of the bartender’s skills and it says a lot about the quality of the beer. Our guests can also enjoy our beer tapped as mlíko (milk). In this case, the pint is filled only with creamy beer foam. It is so smooth and velvety that it can be drunk right away and it resembles a glass of milk. The best way to enjoy this beer is right at the bar – literally from hand to mouth. If requested, we can also tap čochtan which is beer with no foam at all. It is great for quenching one’s thirst but it has to be drunk rather fast as it has absolutely no foam and is therefore likely to become flat quite fast.
There are plenty of minor breweries in Bohemia, yet still you remain faithful to one particular brand. Why the Pilsner Urquell?
We consider the Pilsner Urquell one of the best beers here. It also meets our demands on constant quality and it manages to smoothly supply all our restaurants.
There are also a lot of other restaurants under the Ambiente brand. Which one is your favourite and why?
That’s a tough question - as if I had to say which of my children I love the most. I always spend the most energy on the latest project, so I’m currently enjoying Eska the most.