Smíchovská Perla, Bohemian Pub/Restaurant
Where: Mariánska 1
English Menu: no
Open: 11:00 - 24:00
Rating: 7 out of 10
The best thing about Sm'chovská Perla, the new Bohemian pub/restaurant on Mariánska 1, is its woodwork: rich, reddish-brown tables, chairs, wainscots and bar set off by attractive masonry. The second best thing about Sm'chovská Perla is its sense of space and dimension, its towering ceilings, wide pathways, hulking bar and appointments.
The combination begets a flavour unique to Bratislava, the feel of a North American pub middle-class types would crowd into to watch a title fight or horse races (horse racing photographs on the wall further this affect).
Although welcome, the space and newness also bring a certain emptiness. There are no stains on the floor, no wear and tear in the corners, and on most nights far fewer people than available seating. Only two months old, it remains to be seen whether the staff and clientele of Sm'chovská Perla will turn it into the excellent pub it already looks to be.
Sm'chovská Perla offers two excellent Czech draft beers - Velvet and Staropramen - and several bottled beers. But with its ale-house design and scores of empty Czech beer bottles used as decor, the options appear scant.
The menu isn't very large either, but the food is good, offering a respite from the typical pig meat theme at most other venues. A few savoury examples: bread with baked blue cheese and Orava bacon, chicken wings with honey-mustard sauce, a spiced hamburger served with onion, tomato, an egg and tri-bun, all of which cost less than 100 crowns each.
The service is another plus, both prompt and friendly (it's even OK to order fries without a main course). Other random pluses include clean bathrooms, comfortable seats and an enclosed patio back of the main room that stays crisp and cool in the summer. In addition, plans are underway to offer more Czech dishes in the near future.
But unfortunately, whoever is calling the shots at Perla has made a few rookie mistakes, the most notable being the music selection. On a recent weekday evening tunes ranged from the heavenly (Jimmy Hendrix) to the downright obnoxious (Brittany Spears and other irritating 'artists').
It's been said that nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd. And if Sm'chovská Perla draws that first hearty crowd, it could turn into one of the best pubs in town.