Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dining Out

Dining out takes time here. A lot of time. This applies to cafés and small restaurants. I haven't hit any of the nicer restaurants yet so they may it do it differently.

First, you find a table and wait for a server to greet you. Be patient because this can take a while. A long while. And good luck finding a non-smoking section because they don't exist.

When you order a drink the server places a 2" x 5" chit on the table and makes hash marks for what you order. The chit will stay on the table and the server will go get your drink.
  • All of the glasses are marked with a line for 0,5L so you know how much head you are supposed to get on a beer.

  • Soft drinks come in tiny 0,2L glass bottles which get poured in to glasses. No ice with sodas here and there are no free refills.

  • Tap water is not served at the table. You can order bottled water - flat or sparkling.
On most menus you'll find the size of the portions, written in grams, indicated to the left of the item. I've learned enough Czech to know if I'm ordering soup, chicken, fish, etc. So far I'm getting by and I'll talk about Czech cuisine in another post.

When you place your order it is written down on the drink ticket and the server goes off to place your order. The server has to remember everything because the ticket stays at the table. I don't know enough Czech to make any special requests but I don't think it is done here. Every one seems to order right off of the menu.

Before your food comes the server will bring you a glass and inside the glass is your napkin and cutlery. When your food arrives you are given a dobrou chut' (bon appetít) and that is the last time you will see your server. The whole checking back to make sure everything is OK hasn't made it over here yet. When your glass is empty they may come back to get you another round, but usually they come back when you're done eating. It is nice not to feel rushed but not to the point where you feel ignored.

An učet prosím (bill, please) will get you your bill. The server will add up every thing on your ticket, mark off the hash marks on the ticket, and tell you the total. When you give the server your money you have to say how much you want to pay...not how much you want back. For example, if the bill is 100 kč and you pay with a 200 kč note, you say 110 or 115 kč. This adds in their tip so they know how much change to give back. Apparently you can't just leave the tip on the table.
Here's the ticket for today's lunch/dinner - a soda, a chicken dish with potato pancakes and an espresso. You can see the crossed off hash marks and the math done at the table. The grand total came to 186 kč (~ $10).

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