Where: SNP Námestie 15
Open: Mon-Sat, 7:00-22:00, Sun 9:00-22:00
Rating: 6 out of 10
Open for over a month now on the corner of SNP square and Špitálska Street, Café Vienna is already attracting a bustling crowd with its sleek, modern atmosphere and exhaustive drink menu. And after a drink or two, one can head downstairs and find arguably the most immaculate and inviting bathrooms in the city centre.
The attractive tile-work sparkles, a faint, fruity odour wafts lazily through the place, a small speaker supplies elevator music telling a tale of romance. A very nice setting, indeed, for the ceaselessly repeating human ritual, but then - oh my - darkness.
A small motion sensor triggers the lights on the way in, but since it's placed on the far side of a semi-wall partitioning off the urinals, it turns them back off before a man of normal capacity has finished his business.
This small error is indicative of a bigger problem with Café Vienna, which was constructed in an ugly, flavourless building next to a McDonalds and a bank. The motion sensor is a nice idea, it works in theory, it seems stylish, but (arrrgggh!) the location spoils everything.
Back upstairs, a smartly dressed, polite and courteous wait-staff hustle through an obstacle course of young Bratislava yuppies (in Slovak, 'MVPs' - mladí veľkomestskí profesionáli). Everything here is working fine. Customers are getting their drinks without waiting. Waitresses are being tipped.
Things are so efficient that people seem to be coming and going at an even faster rate than they are next door at McDonalds. Perhaps this is because they aren't eating. Café Vienna serves all sorts of beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), but so far, almost no food besides Danishes and bowls of fruit. Sandwiches, desserts and a breakfast menu are planned for this autumn.
Some of the menu's creative cocktails can be quite filling though. The banana ice-cream cocktail (55 crowns) is delicious, with whipped cream on top of ice cream on top of a concoction containing tasty chunks of something sweet and chewy - presumably a banana. The strawberry version is nearly as good.
Five bottled beers and two on tap run from 35 crowns to 70. The list of sodas (35 crowns) includes diet Pepsi and ginger ale. Fifteen varieties of coffee cost between 32 and 90 crowns. Then there is a long list of highballs (99-130 crowns), non-alcoholic cocktails (45 crowns), and wine (130 - 900 crowns).
These choices come in a well-lit, smartly decorated environment. Besides the bathroom light, there's not much wrong with Café Vienna. The biggest visible blooper is the lack of a proper barrier between the smoking and non-smoking sections. So the non-smoker gets the shaft; no surprise there.
But with the rubber McDonald's playland bouncing out front and the ugly steel innards of the building visible at the entrance and exit, something is just not quite right.
In a different location and with slightly lower prices, Café Vienna might get what it is missing most: the kind of clientele that has time to sit unhurried over a drink and chat.