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R.I.P. - The late-night café at the foot of the stairs

Summer has arrived in the city - bringing with it crowds of tourists and vacationing Slovaks who flock to Bratislava's cafés and pubs. Things can get a little congested out there, which is why the R.I.P café - with its relative anonymity and its long open hours - is a great place to find a seat and hang out.
The café is hidden away down a flight of steps in a courtyard off trendy Panská Street, near the Sushi Bar on Venturská and close to the Academy of Performing Arts. Opened in March this year by a drama student, the café is tastefully furnished and almost always has a table free. Students not only make up the main clientele of R.I.P, but also its service staff. This fact makes the café somewhat unusual - waiters and waitresses are not the usual dullards who ignore customers or mess up orders, but instead are interesting and engaging people in their own right.


Café décor features wooden floors with theatre stage lights suspended from the ceilings.
photo: Soňa Bellušová

Address: Panská 27
Tel.: 54 43 39 70
Open: Mon.-Fri., 09:00-02:30, Sat. 11:00-02:30, Sun. 11:00-24:00

Summer has arrived in the city - bringing with it crowds of tourists and vacationing Slovaks who flock to Bratislava's cafés and pubs. Things can get a little congested out there, which is why the R.I.P café - with its relative anonymity and its long open hours - is a great place to find a seat and hang out.

The café is hidden away down a flight of steps in a courtyard off trendy Panská Street, near the Sushi Bar on Venturská and close to the Academy of Performing Arts. Opened in March this year by a drama student, the café is tastefully furnished and almost always has a table free. Students not only make up the main clientele of R.I.P, but also its service staff. This fact makes the café somewhat unusual - waiters and waitresses are not the usual dullards who ignore customers or mess up orders, but instead are interesting and engaging people in their own right.

The educated flavour of R.I.P. extends to the daily Slovak newspapers which are available at each table, and the number of esoteric books that café patrons seem to be reading at any given moment.

Although the café is open till half past two at night, it is the morning opening hours which expats may find the most attractive. Breakfast - a toasted ham and cheese sandwich with Alfredo espresso coffee - costs only 35 crowns, while croissants are available for 15 crowns and a block of brie-style cheese known as Hermelín costs 45 crowns. Tea drinkers have a choice of six flavoured fruit teas.

Seating is admittedly limited - four tables and 15 chairs, with additional outdoor tables - but the café's hidden location means that seats are usually free. Each table comes equipped with heavy stone ashtrays, which see regular use (the smoke factor can sometimes be a problem here, especially on hot summer days).

The café is housed in the same building as the recently opened Sushi Bar Tokyo and Japanese Restaurant. R.I.P. shares its courtyard with the Katarina Popovich fashion shop, whose stylish owner is one of the café's best customers.

R.I.P.'s décor was designed by a student of stage design, and it shows - the bar is a polished metallic affair, while the floor has a wooden mosaic effect and the tables are black. Antique theatre stage lights hang from the ceiling, creating a unique pattern of shadows.

Café R.I.P. also offers a respite from pop music drivel - Edith Piaf, movie soundtracks from David Lynch movies like Twin Peaks or jazz tapes tinkle away in the background, in perfect accompaniment to the unusual drink menu ('absinthe with pear juice' commands 100 crowns, while Vinea sells for 25). The café features eight kinds of whisky and the regular rum-gin-borovička lineup. Beer fans can get a half litre of Pilsner Urquell for 35 crowns, while non-drinkers can have a café latte for 30 crowns.

This is a place which makes few concessions to expats or tourists: R.I.P. customers, the café owner says, love to listen to the cabaret songs of Slovak performers Milan Lasica and Júlus Satinský, and get their wish, regularly. The lyrics may be unintelligible (and the music unenjoyable) to anyone who speaks no Slovak, but for those seeking contact with young educated natives of this country, a dose of Lasica and Satinský may go down just fine.

-Soňa Bellušová

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