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OUR CONDITIONAL PICK

Zlatého Orla - Almost, but not quite

Clearly Zlatého Orla (the Golden Eagle) has set its sights on being one of the finer restaurants in Bratislava, and equally clear is that it has the potential to be one. We are intrigued to see if this will happen. We hope it will, but it's not there yet. Great strides have been made since our earlier visit shortly after the restaurant opened. We noticed major improvements, particularly in the attitude of the staff.
The restaurant has many things going for it - the location is wonderful, on one of the main walkways in Staré Mesto (Old Town), next to the British Embassy, not far from the opera, symphony and Hotel Danube. The entrance is attractive, at the end of a small arcade. The layout and decor are quite delightful - one enters into a well-lit bar area that is simple, clean and with attractive furnishings - basically a place where it appears ideal to conduct a quiet meeting over cocktails.

Address:Panská 14
Hours: Every day, 8:00-23:00.
Cuisine: Regional
Prices:Sk Sk
Reservations: Yes
English menu: Yes (German)
Credit Cards: Accepted relunctantly
Recommended:Provisionally


Clearly Zlatého Orla (the Golden Eagle) has set its sights on being one of the finer restaurants in Bratislava, and equally clear is that it has the potential to be one. We are intrigued to see if this will happen. We hope it will, but it's not there yet. Great strides have been made since our earlier visit shortly after the restaurant opened. We noticed major improvements, particularly in the attitude of the staff.

The restaurant has many things going for it - the location is wonderful, on one of the main walkways in Staré Mesto (Old Town), next to the British Embassy, not far from the opera, symphony and Hotel Danube. The entrance is attractive, at the end of a small arcade. The layout and decor are quite delightful - one enters into a well-lit bar area that is simple, clean and with attractive furnishings - basically a place where it appears ideal to conduct a quiet meeting over cocktails.

There are two dining rooms, one off to either side of the bar (this affords a great opportunity to make one room non-smoking, but unfortunately that hasn't been done). The dining rooms are also well lit, comfortably furnished and spacioisly laid out. One doesn't feel as if introductions should be made to the diners at surrounding tables next to you.

The menu is extensive, presented in Slovak, German and English and divided into sections listing each dish's national origin. You can mix and match: a Slovak appetizer, a Hungarian entrée and an Austrian desert. There is even a "lighter" menu for those who have smaller appetites. One intriguing feature is that the restaurant has a breakfast menu. We have not tried breakfast, but this has the potential to be a place for those early morning meetings, and a real alternative to the major hotels.

So why, with all these positive aspects, do we hesitate to give this restaurant our unconditional approval? Many items concerned us, some major and some admittedly picky, but nevertheless they should just not occur in a restaurant which has set its sights on being a first-class establishment.

Perhaps the most upsetting concern is the food. Despite the presence of a helpful and delightful maitre d' who even recommends dishes, the food remains disappointmenting. The vegetables were overcooked, soggy, tasteless, and frozen, a large concern for a vegetarian. The meat dish was tough and overcooked, so meat-eaters won't be satisfied either. As often happens in too many restaurants, many items listed on the menu were not available.

In the picky category, there are only flimsy paper napkins which do match the attractive china pattern, but that's all they do. Even though credit cards are accepted, (there is even a Visa sticker in the doorway), we were asked very strongly to pay cash. There are more things to criticize, but we feel this restaurant should be given a chance and are not seeking to deter you from visiting it. When it takes care of these details, Zlatého Orla is going to be a wonderful addition to the limited selection of finer restaurants in Bratislava.

Dinner for two, including two glasses of wine, coffee and one dessert cost 590 Sk and thankfully did not include something that is annoying to us, a cover charge.

One last pointer: the rest rooms are just to the right as you enter, cunningly hidden behind a door that is only identified by the "00" on the top of the door frame. The bathroom doors lack self-closing hinges!

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