68. Brasserie Federal, Zurich, Switzerland

Whenever I want to get mugged, I go out for dinner in Zurich.

IMG_0785

It’s hard to understand why Brasserie Federal doesn’t work. The shell of the building is exquisite: sweeping arched windows, stained-glass roof, perfect people-watching opportunities. But then there is the shiny silver turnstile leading down the tasteless ‘marble’ stairs to the bathrooms (two francs please), the laminated sheet of Word art with blue toilet people acting as a sign, the miserable hot lamp attendants ambling around the ill-advised el fresco kitchen.

IMG_0806

 

IMG_0807

There are around 100 beers, but they needn’t have bothered. Much of the list is like choosing between Heineken and Amstel; hardly Sophie’s choice. There are glaring omissions from this Swiss beer list: Storm & Anchor, I’m looking at you. At best, the microbrew scene in Switzerland can be described as inchoate, but quality is still there. Just not here. The Mousetrap (a tiny bar beside a British cheese shop) and Fork & Bottle (American-run family-friendly restaurant with an incredible beer garden) are your best choice in Zurich for Swiss beers. Yep, an English and an American place serve the best Swiss beers.

IMG_0822

The service is quick, in tune with their customers’ needs, which is somewhat refreshing in Switzerland. My waiter was particularly friendly, striking up a conversation with ease, seemingly happy to speak English with the tourists (you’d think he’d get bored of that).

IMG_0823

Venue: 2/10

Convenient, and a top, top people-watching area. But the inside is generic, worn, and hard to take a picture of that makes it look impressive.

Beer: 2/10

Probably the widest selection of Swiss beers. But why bother?

Worthy? No.

Not even the best bar in Zurich.

Advertisements

14. U Fleků, Prague, Czech Republic

IMG_1210

U Fleků is a brilliantly preserved Bohemian experience in the heart of Prague. The first written reference places a brewery on this site since 1499, making this the oldest continuous brewpub in Central Europe.

IMG_1215

If you’ve ever been to Prague, especially if you’ve stood on Charles Bridge, you will have a sense of the strangling number of tourist cloying the streets. It is remarkable U-Fleku-Beersthen, that U Fleků retains such Medieval charm and unspoilt grandeur. There is space inside for a staggering 1,200 patrons siphoned through eight distinct rooms, each with their own character. These range from the chthonic ‘Sausage’ room with arched beamed ceilings, to the resplendent and decadent Academy room which has hosted Czech socialites and celebrities for centuries.

Venue: 10/10

An excellent example of Czech Bohemian grandeur surviving through the ages and coping with the huge summer tourist numbers.

Beer: 8/10

There is literally one beer, the Flek Thirteen; a dark lager whose names derives from its Plato rating of 13 degrees. One could make the perfectly reasonable argument that my rating is far too high for a single-beer bar. To one, I say “Go drink some”.

Worthy? Yes

Legendary.