I spent my allotted 64kč beer money in the Wombat Café this week. Once again, despite the hours of research I did before coming to Prague, I found this bar entirely by chance: terrified of missing my step target and facing the wrath of my fitness app, I’d decided to take an evening stroll around my neighbourhood.
[By the way, “hours of research” is a high-and-mighty way of saying I Googled “craft beer Prague” and then marked the results on a map.]
More terrifying than my phone’s hardwired passive aggressiveness, though, was the prospect of doing anything relating to exercise. As soon as I heard the ping in my headphones that indicated I’d reached 10,000 steps, I clocked out. I practically fell down the steps into the nearest bar – Wombat Café.
The first thing I noticed was, unsurprisingly, the overriding theme of the caf – comics. The walls were covered in prints from different graphic novels, including a particularly massive section taken from Sin City. The owners had also set up a series of well-lit shelves groaning under the weight of cartoony action figures; I ignored the fact that all the women depicted had massive chests and not a lot of clothes, as well as the lack of any real women in the bar, and headed to the counter.
Since, as you can see from the name, Wombat is more café than bar, I was unsurprised that they only had the obligatory Pilsner on offer as far as beer went. There were also a couple of slices of cakes on offer and I spotted a coffee machine under a pile of dusty Star Wars merch. Unusually for the Czech Republic, there were far more bottles of whiskey than beer; however, given my refusal to drink anything that tastes that much like your throat is actually on fire, I stuck to the ležák.
The atmosphere in the bar was really strange. The guys in there were all clearly good friends, and I enjoyed listening to them chat to the bartender, who I reckon was also the owner. If you were into comics and were good mates with any of the regulars, this would be an incredible way to spend your weekday nights.
The downside of any bar where you mostly serve your mates, though, is it can be pretty uninviting to anyone else – I felt this very strongly. About halfway through my mediocre beer I happened to glance up and noticed that five of the guys were unabashedly staring at me with a what-are-you-doing-here kind of expression. I couldn’t help but share their feeling: it was a little bit like I’d noticed the door to a flat was open, wandered in, and sat drinking a beer in someone’s living room whilst they hung out with their mates.
I’ll award the Wombat Café a doughy slice of fruitcake and half-arsed pint, with the important asterisk that if you happen to love nerd culture and have an in with one of the crowd, it could be the place for you.