Blue Moon patrons had better read the sign before entering.
photo: Ján Svrček
Where: Michalská 14
Open Hours: 7:00 - 24:00
English menu: yes
Rating: upstairs, 2 out of 10;
downstairs, 7 out of 10
Blue Moon café's manager was standing on the other side of the cafe's front door as I pushed on a handle that didn't budge.
"Outside," he snapped at me through a thin plate of glass covered in heart-shaped stickers.
"You're not open?" I shouted. It was 9:00 and the sign on the door read open: 7:00 to 24:00.
He rushed toward the door, slammed it open, almost hitting me in the face, and pointed to a small sticker marked 'pull'. "Don't you know how to read?" he said. By shouting "outside" he had been telling me the direction in which the door opened.
I mumbled an apology and followed him into Blue Moon, one of the Bratislava Old Town's newest restaurant/cafés.
Irritated and embarrassed by the manager's abrupt manner, I was dealt another dizzying blow on this weekday morning by Blue Moon's interior. Heart-shaped cardboard cut-outs and heart-shaped balloons hung over tables with heart-patterned doilies in two harrowingly narrow rooms painted ocean blue, sky blue, and baby blue.
Thirty seconds after arriving at Blue Moon, I had the nauseating feeling of having eaten a whole box of valentine chocolates.
I ordered tea, studied the menu and considered having breakfast. But when the manager snorted a profanity-laced apology to a customer that his restaurant, which advertised that it served breakfast, had run out of eggs, I decided I wasn't hungry. I drank my tea and left.
When I returned to the Blue Moon on a weekend to sample the food, things were better. The blue decor seemed less atrocious when one entered from the evening twilight than from the morning sunshine; the heart decorations had disappeared (they must have been for Valentine's day); no one insulted me as I opened the door.
Searching for a table in the back, I found a spiral staircase I hadn't noticed on my first visit, at the bottom of which was a restaurant that bore no resemblance to the café upstairs. Candlelight illuminated low, arched ceilings, white walls, fine woodwork and a black piano. The only reminders of the vulgarity upstairs were artificial flowers and cheap Bol's Liqueur coasters. I sat in a booth lined with pillows.
The Bloody Mary I ordered from an exhaustive list of cocktails exceeded my expectations. From a large, reasonably priced food menu, I selected chilled chicken cocktail, garlic soup, and pork medallions stuffed with cheese, ham, bacon and peppers. Everything but the soup, whose croutons tasted of soggy cardboard, was superb.
The wait staff was quick and professional throughout the meal, despite rude demands from my side that were in revenge for the treatment I had suffered from the manager. "More Tabasco in my Bloody Mary". "Still not enough, bring the bottle". "I said tap water, not mineral water". "I wasn't finished looking at the menu". "More bread with the soup". "More bread with the soup". The staff never once flinched or lost their cool.
My only complaint with my dinner was an abrupt switch in music from tolerably sappy 1980s love songs to intolerably sappy 1980s love songs interspersed with loud selections from the Slovak rock band Elán. The Elán songs especially detracted from the restaurant's pleasant mood.
I still can't reconcile the two sections of Blue Moon. The upstairs café is like the tacky place with rude staff you end up in at five in the morning in an American casino after you've lost your money and self-respect. You're thinking: Who in the world designed this place and how did I end up in it? I hope life never brings me here again.
The downstairs restaurant, on the other hand, is a few changes away from being one of the nicest places to dine in Bratislava's city centre.
26. Feb 2001 at 0:00 | Matthew J. Reynolds