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Review: Something fishy at lunch

The menu said Sk155 for the Fisherman's Roasted Zander, with a warning that each 10 grams of fish over 100 cost an additional Sk15. My friend and I figured the cooks were on their honour to shoot for 100 grams, and he went ahead and ordered the Zander.
It turned out that his share of lunch cost Sk700, that they had served him 320 grams of Zander without reason or warning and charged him accordingly. We had no idea until the bill came, and then it was too late to complain. Thank goodness it was on the Spectator's tab.
The Zander pricing outrage spoiled an otherwise good, if unremarkable, lunch at Alžbetka, a fetching restaurant with one of the largest selections of Slovak food in Bratislava.


The lunch at Alžbeta was only distinguished by the enormous cost of the added weight to the fish.
photo: Ján Svrček

Alžbetka

Address:Mickiewiczova 1 (off Obchodná street)
Open:daily 11:00-23:00
English menu: yes
Rating: 6 our of 10

The menu said Sk155 for the Fisherman's Roasted Zander, with a warning that each 10 grams of fish over 100 cost an additional Sk15. My friend and I figured the cooks were on their honour to shoot for 100 grams, and he went ahead and ordered the Zander.

It turned out that his share of lunch cost Sk700, that they had served him 320 grams of Zander without reason or warning and charged him accordingly. We had no idea until the bill came, and then it was too late to complain. Thank goodness it was on the Spectator's tab.

The Zander pricing outrage spoiled an otherwise good, if unremarkable, lunch at Alžbetka, a fetching restaurant with one of the largest selections of Slovak food in Bratislava.

Two weeks ago I wrote about the PFSR (pseudo fancy Slovak restaurant), which makes passing attempts at urbanity - waiters in bow ties, silver serving dishes - undermined by tacky decour and undistinguished food. Alžbetka is one step above a PFSR - the colour scheme makes sense and most of the plants are real - yet all through lunch I had the feeling the none of the employees were trying as hard as they might.

As lunch began, I was impressed with the 20-table dining hall's velvety red drapes, plush carpets and original oil paintings. But it took 20 minutes for our waiter to take our order, even thought the place was almost empty.

We started with soup. The spicy beef and garlic soup wasn't spicy and was hardly garlicky. And the beef was overcooked and stringy. The creamy garlic was thick as whipped cream with a strong garlic taste. It came in a bread bowl, although that wasn't written on the English menu.

From the 73-entree menu I selected veal in cream with artichokes and olives. (The English menu lists veal as "calf") The meat was rich and tender, and the olives made a zesty counterpoint to the cream sauce. Unfortunately, mushrooms were substituted for artichokes, which was why I ordered the dish. I wished the waiter had warned me.

The Zander was grilled to perfection, fluffy and boneless and seasoned to draw out the fish's subtle flavour. Of course for Sk500 it should have been the best fish we had ever tasted.

After dinner we had to ask twice for a second glass of juice. Such service seemed to fit in with menu's unpredictable English translation and two-page restuarant history that set a record for number of words written containing no interesting information.

But aside from the Zander pricing outrage, my biggest complaint with lunch was the muzak, this time a cross between Enya and Falco with C.C. Devil on the electric guitar playing through an amp with the reverb turned up all the way.

So if you dine at Alžbetka, be sure to pick a seat away from the speakers, and make sure your wallet is full if you're in the mood for fish.

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