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Review: Tea (and curry) time

Ganesha is the Hindu god of wisdom and the remover of obstacles. But from now on whenever I see his picture - a short fat man with an elephant's head - I will not think of erudition or improved access, but of the best tea I have ever had.
Bratislava's new Indian restaurant, Ganesha, at Obchodná street 42 (if you've been wondering what happened to Jungle restaurant, wonder no more, it closed and Ganesha has opened in its place) scores highly on most counts, but it's the Massal tea that has me looking for an excuse to go back. A creamy, sweet blend of black tea and milk, with a hint of cinnamon, it's a culinary triumph.


If only the service could have been a bit better....
photo: Ján Svrček

Ganesha

Address: Obchodná ulica 42
Open: 11:00-23:00 daily, closed Sundays
English menu: yes
Rating: 8 out of 10

Ganesha is the Hindu god of wisdom and the remover of obstacles. But from now on whenever I see his picture - a short fat man with an elephant's head - I will not think of erudition or improved access, but of the best tea I have ever had.

Bratislava's new Indian restaurant, Ganesha, at Obchodná street 42 (if you've been wondering what happened to Jungle restaurant, wonder no more, it closed and Ganesha has opened in its place) scores highly on most counts, but it's the Massal tea that has me looking for an excuse to go back. A creamy, sweet blend of black tea and milk, with a hint of cinnamon, it's a culinary triumph.

Ganesha's entrance is set back from the main drag in an alley where it could easily be overlooked in favour of scores of new restaurants that have opened lately on Obchodná Street.

That would be a shame, and not just because of the tea. Everything my companion and I sampled during lunch last week was excellent, some of it was outstanding, and all of it came at prices difficult to beat for ethnic cuisine in the Old Town, around Sk400 each for the entire stomach-stretching meal.

Still swooning over the tea, we were presented with two soups heavily seasoned with curry powder. I was delighted, my Slovak friend was overpowered. She passed over her zesty, buttery cream of mushroom soup. My creamy tomato soup was less tangy, also buttery, and the better of the two choices.

The entrees. If you don't like curry you should pass on Ganesha. If you do, be sure to try the lamb. It's boneless and tender, and ample chunks of meat come floating in a sauce in which sweet, spicy and fatty tastes vie for supremacy, with the diner emerging the real winner.

The Palak paneer, thumb-sized portions of cheese in a runny spinach sauce, was a slight letdown, the spongy cheese - which tasted like fresh mozzarella - marred by a sauce more salty than spinachy.

We ate these entrees with moist boiled rice and a charcoal-flavoured yoghurt pancake. Both were satisfactory complements to our main dishes.

If only the service and atmosphere had been better, Ganesha would be my new favourite restaurant. We waited 15 minutes to order, even though only eight people were in the some 50 seats; then the waitress asked us repeat our choices after she misplaced her notes. Our entrees arrived before we finished the soups.

Ganesha's upstairs is a promising arrangement of Indian decor. I especially liked the framed rugs depicting the Taj Mahal and the god of wisdom himself. But the cramped downstairs, where we sat, was shabbily painted in a garish pink. An exposed ceiling fan drowned out the traditional Indian music. The place mats on every table were purest kitsch.

I'm going back regardless. I can endure much worse for such marvellous tea.

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