Back in early 2009 Hotel Victor made many a local beer lover happy. It was a rarity back then, a pub that sold only beers from one microbrewery, and no other than Chýně. It was a nice place, but along the way something happened, a change in ownership, perhaps, and it lost some of the appeal, just when the multi-tap boom was getting louder. The last couple of times I had been there, the Chýně beers were in very, very poor condition and I promised myself I would never go again. So, when right by the end of the year, Hotel Victor turned into Pivovar Victor, I was not all that excited and was in no rush to see what their now house made beers were like.
And I wasn’t all that looking forward to reviewing it with my colleague Fiona Gaze. But work is work and we sometimes must go to places and do things we may not end up liking.
I arrived shortly before the agreed time. Except for the staff, all sitting in front of a loud TV, the place was empty. I sat by the shiny brewhouse, a 2hl do I reckon, and the friendly waiter turned down the volume to a more accommodating level. I ordered a Světlý Ležák to help me pass the time until my colleague arrived.
The beer turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It would not reach the level of a Benediktin or Únětické, but it tasted smooth, clean and well made. Far from memorable, but pretty enjoyable just the same, so much that I ordered a second one when Fiona arrived, and at 35CZK a pop isn’t all that bad value, either.
The other beer they had on tap that day was Black Victor, that was described as a Stout. Someone who gives more of a toss about styles than I do, will perhaps question that claim, it’s their thing. I thought it was a pretty, pretty fine black beer. I usually like my dark beers to be more on the roasty side, but this one had that sort of milk chocolate melted in filter coffee that can do the job just fine. It was also very smooth with an almost criminal drinkability for a 14º brew, If I hadn’t had anything else to do that afternoon, I would have easily stay to drink several more than the two pints I had.
With such competent beers, it’s a real shame that the same can’t be said about the food. The menu, to begin with, isn’t very imaginative, it seems to pack all the tourist trap favs with nothing really that stands out. Prices are also quite high, basically at the same range as those at Pivovar U Tří Růží, which, I believe, has a far more prime location. That wouldn’t be such a deal if the food was at the same level as at the Old Town brewpub.
In my almost 11 years here I’ve eaten at all sorts of places, from greasy spoon to silver spoon and everything in between, and I tell you that what I had at Pivovar Victor ranks among the worst ever.
The garlic soup wasn’t bad, but was hugely overpriced at 60CZK (the heavenly Gulášovká at U3R was 65CZK to give you an idea), but that can’t compare with the disaster that was the duck. The only way it can be fairly described is disgusting, it tasted (and smelled) as something that has been several times frozen and reheated in a microwave. I was very hungry, but couldn’t finish it, and all for the fair price of 250CZK! (I didn’t remember it that day, but I had also ordered duck at U3R, which not only was 40CZK cheaper, but also was pretty, pretty good- I was going to say “better”, but a sandwich of vegan chorizo and tofurkey would be more appetising than what I got at Victor). And poor Fiona didn’t fare any better with her lunch, as you can read here.
Though I can’t say anything bad about the beers, I seriously doubt I will be going back to Pivovar Victor anytime soon. There’s no excuse for the food being so expensive and so bad (and very little for the loos being so smelly) and with Merenda, the recently reopened U Slovanské Lípy and several other pubs at walking distance that offer far better value in every aspect, there’s very little excuse for me to drop by, even for a quick one.