In restaurant, Prague
We visited in October and it was already quite chilly. Outdoor seating areas and dining areas are a big part of the social culture in Prague's Old Town Square and surrounding areas. But sitting outdoors was not so appealing on a chilly day. However, some establishments are very smart putting lambskins or sheepskins on the chairs and providing blankets or throws for your lap or your shoulders.
When you enter a restaurant, if you are alone or in a small group, they will often seat you at the end of an already occupied table. Some might see this as a devious attempt at deprivation of privacy, I think its more a practical way of letting more people enjoy a meal. I'm not sure how they decide who to seat where, but it seemed like foreigners often shared tables with other tourists.
The times that it happened to me turned out really well and I got a chance to share a meal with some very nice people.
One time was a bit of a surprise. I came into the restaurant and the man seating me asked if I could do a favor for him (he asked once he found out that I spoke english). He offered me a discount on my meal if I would sit at the table with one of the visiting Scots because the staff was having a difficult time understanding his accent. Is that a reasonable assumption? That an American would understand a Scottish accent any better? I don't know....After the initial "oh you're a Yank" reaction he was very, very nice and was thrilled to tell me all about his clan, wearing a kilt, Scottish music and most of all Scottish football. Anyway, it was no problem understanding him and it was fun experience.
It turned out that some 6,000 Scots were in town to see the Scotland/Czech republic match. The Tartan Army they called themselves. all dressed in their kilts and all. Though clearly committed to having a grand time, they seemed well behaved in the time i was in Prague.
used this site to find out where all the deals were for lunches etc throughout the day, I was surprised how much you could save just using the meal of the day, just click onto the area you are visiting, then pick a restaurant, and menu for the week,
Many places in Prague don't accept credit cards, and sometimes the Bankomats (ATMs) are difficult to find. Make sure you bring enough cash into restaurants in particular so you won't have any issues with paying.
Becherovka is an herbal bitter appetizer, and a typical product made in the Czech Republic. It is flavored with anise seeds, cinnamon, and aproximately 32 other herbs. It is normally served cold, and is often used as an aid to digestion. We drank it in a warmed up Cognac glass. It can also be served with tonic water, in which case it is known as a beton (Czech for "concrete"). Its alcohol content is 38 percent (76 proof).
In general, a good warming up tool after visiting the Christmas markets in Prague
If you don’t mind sitting with others, you might want to try sharing your table with others especially if its busy. This apparently will be less expensive in some restaurants and the locals will not see it as being rude or invasive to join them dining.
Dining can be fairly casual most of the time, even shorts are ok. Of course if you are going more high brow, choose your dress accordingly.
After you get a bill in a restaurant, never leave money on the table. The waiter/waitress will wait there while you decide the total that includes tip and give you appropriate change. Tip 10% or if the service was great, a little more.
After ordering a meal at a restaurant Czechs do not say thank you to the waiter. They think it quite funny that foreigners do...my Czech teacher thinks it's hillarious.
It is hard not to say thank you...I consciously have to stop myself...have a go!
If you want the attention of a waiter you say ....'prosim vas!' (pro-seem vaas)
If you want the bill ...... 'ucet prosim!' (oo-chet pro-seem)
Many guidebooks will tell you the proper tip is no more than 10%, 15% for excellent service. If you aren't on a tight budget, disregard this advice. For those of us using the Pound and the Euro (soon my dollar as well), many of our meals and drinks in Prague are relatively dirt cheap. Yet the people serving us these delectible treats aren't making much money, and are working long hours. Usually, I'll sit down for a meal and get excellent service from a hardworking waitress who, quite frankly, shouldn't be smiling at the end of a 10 hour shift. My bill will be so cheap, I'll give about a 50% tip (make sure to ask the server if they actually receive the tip first). It's good to know a couple extra pounds can help a hardworking Czech local, and a beautiful Czech smile is well worth the price.
Its not like America where men open the door for the ladies, they go into a restaurant first, i don't know why but don't embarrass yourself girls! I did a few times and didn't catch on for the first few days!
In the Czech Republic it is considered rude to leave the tip on the table.
Either include it in what you give the waiter or give your tip straight back when you are given your change.
You should typically tip 10%; more if your are in a large group.
Most places don't include the tip in the bill and are usually very keen to point this out.
No Czech person ever leaves a tip on the table. The way you tip is this: the bill comes to 90Kc, if you give the waiter a 100Kc note, he would expect to keep it (i.e. you have given the bill +10%. In Czech you would normally tell the waiter how much to take i.e if the bill was for 120kc I would give the waiter a 200kc note and tell him to take 140kc. (I have given him a 20kc tip) He would then give me the change of 60kc. If you do not know Czech numbering it's best to wait for the change and IMMEDIATELY give your tip back to the waiter as we don't leave a tip on the table here. For details of what to expect in a Czech Restaurant click here and enjoy How to eat Czech
When in Prague, be sure to bring a little patience with you in terms of customer service in restuarants and shops. It is true that this is an area that needs a little work but remember, up until just over a decade ago, there was NO SUCH THING as customer service. They're still learning and as such, service isn't always with a smile and is sometimes rough around the edges.
Not so much at the finer establishments but the little "diner" type places and bistros.
Two places we had quite good service were Chez Marcel and Rugantino's Pizza.
At most restaurants, you will be charged for a "table setting charge", meaning the table settings and the bread. This is normal, so don't think you're being robbed!
Anyway, it is a very low fee... See it as a discounted 15-20% tip we leave in the US!
And if you were happy with your service, it does not hurt to leave a few coins and let the struggling waiter/waitress know you were happy with their service =)
It is quite common when you go to eat at restaurants, to be seated with another person or couple. This usually doe snot happen in touristy restaurants but it does at the ones that have a local crowd.
So don't be surprised, and take advantage of that: that person usually lives there and know everything about the town you are actually trying to discover!