The interior of Kelt pub is hung with faux-Bronza Age artefacts and a massive picture of a female Celtic warrior.
photo: Soňa Bellušová
Address: Hviezdoslavovo 26, Bratislava Old Town
English menu: Yes
Hours: Daily, 11:00-1:00.
Have you been desperately seeking the meeting place of Bratislava 'trendies' where you can select from a beer menu of Kelt, Kelt or Kelt? Or are you looking for a place to groove along with Boy George's greatest hits while sitting under abstract nouveau Celtic shields which harken back to the Bronze Age? If you answer 'yes' to either question, then Bratislava's newest pub - Kelt on Hviezdoslovovo Námestie - is the place for you.
Opened on May 13, Kelt was designed in memory of the peoples inhabiting much of Europe and Asia Minor during Roman times. The culture of the Celts developed during the Bronze Age around the upper Danube and reached its climax in the first century BC before the region was overrun by various Germanic races.
The new owners of Kelt clearly hope their new establishment will be overrun by customers. And on an average night, one gets the feeling they may succeed in their mission.
A large fireplace at the pub entrance greets customers. Although the hearth will contain a roaring blaze come winter time, for now it has been assigned decorative duty. Indeed, Bratislava's hot summer weather is sure to make competition fierce for the 15 shaded tables outside on the square, which offer a lovely view of the national theatre and a less charming view of the Carlton Hotel reconstruction.
My party opted to sit inside at one of the five massive stone tables surrounded by connected wooden benches. If all the tables are full, as is frequently the case, there are various other smaller tables and stone ledges on the walls offering a place to rest a drink or a reflective elbow.
The west side of the bar is slightly elevated, with two smaller tables and thickly cushioned chairs. Employees said that it will be used as a stage for live music performances sometime in the future. The back wall of the stage is adorned with a large painting of a robust Celtic woman - perhaps Boadicea - which dominates the scene and contributes nicely to the bar's theme.
Our waitress was a young woman dressed, as are all Kelt waiters and waitresses, in black pants, a black t-shirt and a big leather belt studded with a rodeo-sized Kelt belt buckle. She was friendly and attentive - the night shift seemed to be very much on top of things.
The day shift, on the other hand, seems more content to read magazines at the bar. My second visit to Kelt was with a colleague at lunch time. When nobody appeared interested in serving us, I walked to the barkeep to order and was then invited with a gruff nod of his head to come and pick up the ready drinks. The lazy waiter sitting nearby did find time to bring us our bill moments later, however.
The nighttime scene is, as one New Yorker put it, "very New York." Like the service, customers prefer a get-up consisting of black with some splashes of gray here and there. The trendy feel of Kelt even extends to the bathrooms, where the standard men and women signs have been replaced by the male and female symbols, which served to confuse a few patrons.
Kelt's prices are expensive in Slovak terms but standard for Bratislava's Old Town - a domestic beer will run you 34 Slovak crowns. Draft beer is not available and the only selection is Kelt in a half-litre bottle with its interesting flip-top (first made famous by the Dutch beer Grölsch). Wine by the glass (30 Sk) or bottle (190 Sk) is available as well as chilled bottles of champagne starting at 250 Sk.
The cognac and whisky selection starts at 42 crowns and crests at 138 for a glass of Hennessy, but most malt liquor is in the neighbourhood of 70 crowns. A wide selection of spirits is also available, including Jagermesiter (68 Sk), a favourite among American followers of the Grateful Dead, and the Slovak specialties Borovička and Slivovica (38 Sk).
For teetotallers, Kelt offers plenty of different juices and sodas (served with ice!) varying from a 14 crown bottle of water to a 75 crown can of the energizing drink Red Bull. Coffees and teas are also available starting at 22 crowns and running up to the 36 crown Viedenská Káva, served with whipped cream in a glass cup.
Kelt has no kitchen but offers chips and pretzels at 30 crowns a bag.
All in all, Kelt offers an atmosphere which is friendly, if a little pretentious. Reservations are accepted, which is a good thing because although the pub is spacious, business has been booming and visitors routinely face standing room only conditions.
31. May 1999 at 0:00 | Chris Togneri