Our young Polish host had been reticent about a tour of the dumpy male pubs of Laviska Gorne, but jumped at the chance to take us round student Mikolow a couple of miles away. She’d last done the pubs while at college here in the late ’90s, and was keen to see an apparent transformation in the town.
I guess that if Laviska is Woodley, then Mikolow is Hyde and big city Katovice is Manchester. I appreciate that the Hyde fan-club may be in its infancy, but I rate both solid towns with traditional architecture, a proper market, and some surprising pubs.
I doubt you’d take your Christmas carp home from Hyde in a plastic bucket, but elsewhere the markets contain similar calorific delights.
QUIZ TIME – WHERE EXACTLY ARE THE CARP HEADED ?
The first pub, denoted only by a knife, fork and spoon, was the sort of middle class grazing place that lovers of All Bar One everywhere will be entirely familiar with.
A good meeting place, but lacking much obvious banter or toilet art, and the Browar Zamkowy promised much but offered nothing new.
Round the corner came the first gem; the Trumpet (top) is a stunning cellar music venue that would do well anywhere in the UK. Dark and atmospheric, and packed with students drinking a wide range of bottled beer.
Mrs RM compared it to the Elm Tree or Live & Let Live in Cambridge, and she was right. The dartboard in one small alcove (Health & Safety alert), smoking room in another, and inevitable Arctic Monkeys soundtrack topped it off.
Primator seem to be a major beer supplier, and their IPA was stunning after quite a lot of fizz, but obviously it was the unisex toilets that swung it for me. Prices here were closer to £2 for the stronger bottles, which says all you need to know about students.
Then came the inevitable craft bar. I feared that Miko Bar would be a disappointment after Krakow, but it was just as good.
Perhaps a more obvious young professional vibe, with obscure jazz and Batman themed loos (see earlier) replacing the darts and Monkeys, but prices here were if anything keener than in the Trumpet. 5 beers I’ve never heard of, across the range of styles and strengths, nothing over £2. Pancakes were seemingly the only food, eaten at the bar.
As I have to compare everything with something else, this is Mikolow’s answer to Bradford’s Sparrow. It really is that good.
To top it off, we finished in the Student Union bar, another underground place. Fraktal was the bar our host wanted to revisit for old times sake. I sensed the toilets had been updated, but little else.
I know BRAPA would love this place, with unidentifiable music, shrieking girls playing table football, pouting girls discussing boys, and that superb Tyskie Golden Ale served in a warm Tyskie glass. If I was 3 decades younger it would have been enough to convince me to come and study Polish at Katowice Uni.