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Review: London Café: jolly good lunches

When visiting the London Café in Bratislava's Old Town, don't think for a minute that its concealed location has affected its number of diners. The taste of jolly old England has become so popular among the Bratislava business crowd that last November the restaurant expanded its seating to almost double its capacity. And based on an afternoon visit by The Slovak Spectator on March 22, the added business is well-deserved.
Situated in an enclave just behind the British Council at Panská 17, the London Café presents a dining experience not often found among Bratislava's pubs and bistros. Instead of the traditional meat, gravy-based or heavily fried selections, London Café offers a lighter variety of fare, featuring choices from salads and sandwiches to soups and chicken dishes. The drink menu spans the gamut of options including hard liquor and beer to popular cappuccino and several different flavours of tea.

Café London

Location: Panská 17, Bratislava
Phone: 07 5443 1793
Hours: 9:00-21:00 Monday to Friday
English Menu: Yes
Rating: 8 1/2 forks out of 10

When visiting the London Café in Bratislava's Old Town, don't think for a minute that its concealed location has affected its number of diners. The taste of jolly old England has become so popular among the Bratislava business crowd that last November the restaurant expanded its seating to almost double its capacity. And based on an afternoon visit by The Slovak Spectator on March 22, the added business is well-deserved.

Situated in an enclave just behind the British Council at Panská 17, the London Café presents a dining experience not often found among Bratislava's pubs and bistros. Instead of the traditional meat, gravy-based or heavily fried selections, London Café offers a lighter variety of fare, featuring choices from salads and sandwiches to soups and chicken dishes. The drink menu spans the gamut of options including hard liquor and beer to popular cappuccino and several different flavours of tea.

If you happen to grab a seat, albeit not a very comfortable one, in the area adjacent to the bar, you may find yourself treated to the best service anywhere in town. In fact, it may be almost too good - less than two minutes passed before one of the chipper wait-staff arrived at the table. The English-language menu made the selection process easier - though the menu was quite hard to read because of its heavily scripted letters - as did the well versed English of the staff.

The roast pork plate (118 crowns) and the quiche (85 crowns) were both accompanied by a generous western-style salad, complete with lettuce, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers. The waitress brought a bowl of the soup-of-the-day (lentil) so quickly that there was barely enough time to get the menu out of her way.

Both main dishes arrived at the table in similarly speedy fashion, and the plates were full to the edge. The pork plate presented a quasi do-it-yourself situation, in which all the ingredients were laid out separately on the plate - bread, mayonnaise and salad.

The quiche was light and fluffy, with mushrooms and carrots giving a little flavour boost. Although pleasant, the quiche did come off as somewhat bland, and more veggies in the mix would have given it a better kick. The light consistency, although soothing to the palate, also did the dish a small disfavour, as the seemingly sufficient-sized slab fell short of sedating the awaiting hungry stomach.

However, this did leave plenty of room for dessert, which translated into two choices this day - apple or cheese strudel (for 16 crowns). Both strudels were of the traditional flaky-on-the-outside, creamy-in-the-middle variety and presented a sweet way to top off an overall palate-pleasing experience.

Other dishes include ham and cheese or just cheese sandwiches, grilled chicken both plain and Greek style, and chicken cordon bleu. All the food was modestly priced between 70 and 130 Slovak crowns.

London Café's well-lit and white-walled interior, in addition to the friendly waitresses, made for a welcoming ambience which was nicely wrapped up in a smoke-free package. The new seating area features a more formal (yet still casual) atmosphere than that in the bar area.

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