Subject: PRAGUE restaurants
Overcharging at Prague restaurants is less common now than it was a few years ago. But it still pays to check the bill, and if you use your credit card, keep a receipt to check against your statement when you get home.

Watch for the following tricks used by waiters throughout Eastern Europe, especially Czechoslovakia, to overcharge you: when you ask for a menu if they tell you they don't have one, insist, even if they say it is in their language, say no problem, they don't want you to see the prices, they would rather invent them; fish is very risky, once the bill comes you'll see five times the menu price, that was for 150 grams, you got 800; sometimes they will offer things that aren't on the menu, saying that nothing else is available (this is possible, but not likely), if the price is okay, go ahead but watch the bill, they are rarely itemized, just a list of numbers, check them versus a menu or your memory; very often, mysterious and quite large extra charges will be wedged in, ask about them, so few ask they normally fix the problem without a hassle; they like to bring expensive drinks or appetizers even if you don't order them, refuse; avoid anything but beer and simple drinks; with reforms and inflation coming on so fast, restaurants will often keep the old menus and just have a sign stating that all prices are 20% higher; never take anything without asking the price; see how the price compares to an average wage (2500 to 3000 crowns), no one will pay a week's wages for a meal; if it gets ugly, bring small bills, pay according to the menu and leave.

The Golden Pear is considered the best Czech restaurant. For sophisticated Czech-inspired cuisine try Cerberus. For downing great Czech beer in a great Czech pub: U Paseka, off Namesti Miru (Miru Square). The wonderfully authentic U Zlateho Tygra pub is worth the wait.

Rich soups, dumplings, pork and goose are some of the delicacies served in traditional restaurants such as Us Svateho Ducha at Elisky Krasnohorske 2. For international dishes, try V Zatisi, Liliova 1. For a romantic night on the town, step back in time and into U Sixtu, a beautifully restored 14th century restaurant located near Old Town Square. Accompany a hearty meal with a glass of the famous Pilsner beer.

TIPPING: Tips are not included in the bill. The general rule is leave money up to the next number that is a 5 or 0, if bill is 450 crowns or more leave from 5% to 10%.

You will notice before each item on a menu they give the weight of the selection in grams, i.e. 100 gm, etc. I found 100 to 150 gm. A nice size filling portion. Anything under 100 gm can be considered a first course, and 200 gm or over was too much food unless you weigh over 200 lbs.

Petrinske Terasy, Seminarske Zahrada 13, Praha 1, phone: 900-00457. Reservations recommended. A small intimate restaurant with a large terrace outside to enjoy a drink, overlooking all of Prague. During the summer they will have music concerts on Friday and Saturday nights. Menu is written in a humorous manner and in English. Try Petrin's gardener's medallions. Two juicy chicken breasts, each covered with a slice of apple topped with sour cream. Dinner portions are very generous. Their dessert specialty is a half banana floating in a vanilla sauce smothered in whipped cream with chocolate dribbled on it, a perfect ending to a perfect dinner. A meal for two including wine and dessert about $19, with the check being delivered in a silver, antique, covered souffle dish, into which you put your money (no cards) and replace the cover. It's the Ujezd (pronounced oo-yezd) stop on tram lines 12, 22 and 23. Follow signs up the stairs to the funicula, which you take to the first stop. Restaurant off to the right. It's a nice walk down the hillside after dinner or lunch. Open daily from 11 am to 10 pm.

Rybarsky Club, U Sovovych Mlyou 1, phone 530223, but you don't need reservations. It is private club for fisherman right on the Vltava River. The public is welcome to enjoy the restaurant. Nicest to eat on the little terrace in back overlooking the river. Food is very good and entrees are around $3.50 to $5. Their grilled sword fish was particularly flavorful. Ujezd tram stop on lines 12, 22, 23, then walk towards the river down Ricni street. At the end (the river) turn right into the park and restaurant is yellow building on your right about 10 feet or so into park.

Restaurant Canto, on Besedni Square. From Ujezd stop (trams 12, 22, 23) walk down Ricni, sign points to restaurant in corner of Square. Another small, romantic restaurant with candlelight and good food. Two people can enjoy a meal for about $10.

Yoco's, Belohorska 49. Tiny restaurant with about 6 tables, friendly service, great food with two people eating well for about $13. The owner, Peter, Stania's husband, suggested I try one of their specialties: Mira Chicken, ham, cheese, red peppers and spinach rolled up in a chicken breast. They only use the freshest products and indeed I enjoyed the meal very much. Trams 8 (from Republic Sq. heading across the river, or 22 from Malostranska Sq., about 15 minutes out from city center. Off at Marijanka (pronounced mariyanka), the stop after you see large Pyramid Hotel on right. Restaurant on the left side of street about a block up (walking same way as tram going). Or you can get off at Drinopol (next stop) and walk back a block. (A good place to eat before or after visiting Brevnov Monastery).

U Karpu, Zatecki 7, In the heart of the old Jewish quarter just off the Old Town Square. Candlelight on plaid table cloths, a charming patio for summer dining and the perfect place to eat before going to either the puppet theater or the Black Image theater. Food very good and most of the entrees are around $4.50. Try their potato pancake with mixed meat covered with melted cheese.

Pod Kridlem, corner of Narodni trida on Vorsilska St. next to British consulate. Phone 2491-2377. A friend and I fell into this place as we needed to have dinner before seeing an opera at the National Theater, a block away. It turned out to be a first class place with formal waiters. In contrast the wording of the menu makes for very funny reading, but the service, presentation and taste of the food all elegant, top-notch and in English. The boar meat was especially tender and delectable. Open every day 11:30 to midnight. Entrees from $4.50 to $7.00. (Trams 22 or 23 or B-line subway, stop: Narodni trida).

Kampa Park, Na Kampe 8b, Mala Straana, Praaha 1; 573-13493. Sits on the northern tip of a tiiny island in the Vltava River, next to Charles Bridge. 3-course dinner with champagne is $60. Try the thick, juicy veal in an orange-infused-port-wine sauce.

La Perle de Prague, Rasinovo Nabrezi 80, Praha 2; 2198-4160. For excellent French foodd. Dinner around $18.

Kajetanka, to the left of Prague Castle, has a fabulous view out over the city from its terrace tables. The man at the next table very nicely opened the big umbrella to protect me from the sun when the waitress refused to do so. Now comfortably situated, munching on my sandwich, listening to the classical music wafting down from the street musicians in front of the castle, as I overlooked the city, I could have stayed there forever.

Sostinec II Rozcesti, K Lochkovu 377, Prague 5-Slivenec. Reservations a must, 581-7379. A wonderful, all Czech restaurant (no tourists) with interesting, ancient puppets hanging from the walls and music accompanying your delicious dinner. Their chicken with ham and melted cheese and steak with whipped cream and a strawberry on top particularly delightful. They have an English menu, but they don't speak English. Dinner for four including wine and hors d'oeuvres $24. It's about 10 minutes from city center. Need to take a taxi. Call AAA at 1080.

Bohemia Bagel, Ujezd 16. Familiar and not so familiar bagels (and muffins, cookies and salads). Sandwiches served on bagels. A fast food place where many young Americans meet. Opens at 7 am, so good place for a quick breakfast or any cheap meal. Can eat well for under $3. Ujezd stop on streetcars 12, 22 and 23

Blue Duck, Mala Strana, Praha 1, for very good traditional Czech foodd.

U Modre Kachnicky (At the Blue Duck), Nebovidska 6; 42-601-203822. A new spot in Mala Strana, the city's most romantic quarter, serves game (boar steak, stag sausage, and so on) in an outrageously rococo setting. Sit in the glass-ceilinged back room, where the murals are the most impressive. Entrees from $10.