Victoria cafe has pancake-making down pat, but could improve both its atmosphere and its draft beer.
photo: Ján Svrček
Address: Liptovská 42
Open hours: Mon - Sat: 10:00 - 22:00, Sun: 14:00 - 22:00
Rating: 7 out of 10
English menu: no
Walking down Michalská Street last month, I noticed that Francúzske Palacinky, the creperie that used to be on the corner with Baštová Street, was boarded up. I peeked into a crack in the shuttering. No signs of flour, jam or the balding cook who used to work the frying pans behind a large picture window.
Francúzske Palacinky had been, I believe, Slovakia's first creperie. It opened in summer 2000 to full lunch-time sittings inside and out. But its prices (up to 250 crowns, or $5, a pancake) were perhaps to high for its product, even though it was in the Old Town and its interior was plush and posh: two blocks away a take-out stand in Stará Tržnica was selling pancakes for 10 to 20 crowns a piece.
In recent months, a new creperie, Viktoria cafe, has opened kitty-corner to Bratislava's Business Centrum about a kilometre from Bratislava's bus station in the Prievoz district. It doesn't have the ambience of its Old Town predecessor, but its pancakes are about a third larger, equally scrumptious and cost about half the price.
Yes, the size is what stands out, and it does matter. Viktoria's crepe pancakes come in rolls over a foot (30 cm) long. My friend exclaimed when she opened a container I brought back from lunch and saw a strawberry (jahodová) pancake with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.
In her words: "It's wonderful that you can fill up on one pancake. And there was so much chocolate. It was fantastic. Where do they get such big frying pans?"
Such excitement for only 58 crowns.
Back at Viktoria's cafe, I had filled up on a rich spiced pork and cheese pancake (bravčová so syrom, pikantné) and half a toothsome chestnut (gaštanová) pancake with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. My fastidious lunchtime companion gave a similar thumbs up to a chicken medallions (kuracie medajlónky) in blue-cheese sauce, even though the chicken inside could have been warmer and the sauce seemed short on blue cheese.
Stuffed to the limit, satisfied with our meals, we set to praising and nit-picking. I appreciated that Victoria's offers decaffeinated coffee, but didn't like that its lone draft beer, the Czech Radegast, was short on body and long on bitter aftertaste. I also felt something should be done about the ratio of sweet to regular pancakes (39 to 9), or the fact there are only two non-dessert vegetarian selections.
My companion, on the other hand, didn't like that the waitress brought our meals several minutes apart and that the smoking section comprised only two tables. And we both agreed that Victoria's fundamental flaws were its size and decor. Sit at any one of its 13 tables during lunchtime and you're bound to bump elbows with a stranger. And the peach and blue colour scheme seemed to clash on purpose.
The price and portions are certainly right at Viktoria cafe, and one can understand that a low-budget creperie is not going to be as luxurious and tasteful as a high-priced one. Nevertheless, Viktoria could make three changes quite painlessly to improve its offer: better beer, more choice and more space. Were the cafe to follow these suggestions, people would likely forget that another creperie ever existed in Bratislava.
17. Sep 2001 at 0:00 | Matthew J. Reynolds