Where: Šafárikovo nám. 7
Tel: 02/5292 5473
Open: Mon-Fri 07:00 to 24:00, Sat-Sun 10:00 to 23:00
English Menu: No
Rating: 5 out of 10
THE SUSPENSE has ended for fans of the vanished Krym pub near Comenius University, who for weeks waited to see what would take the place of the fabled student hangout and alternate classroom for expat English teachers.
The opening of the Trafená Hus (shot goose) restaurant in early May, part of a well-known Czech franchise of Prague breweries, is little short of a disappointment.
The facility is above all so lacking in local character that it could be found in any city in the world (banks of televisions, cute duck footprints on the walls, uniformed, and uniform, wait staff).
Prices have shot up too, over Sk30 for the Czech beer on tap. The music is a too loud for conversation, although people who have nothing to say may feel relieved not to be taxed with talk.
The food is decent, if again a price galaxy away from the more modest Krym. It consists largely of hefty pieces of grilled meat, served with hefty chunks of potato and vegetable, in imitation of someone's idea of wholesome dining. It's also rather uneven, with the Sk67 potato soup reminding me of the 'minestrone' that used to be served at a Greek restaurant I worked at in Canada. The owner, Gus, would simply pour together the leavings of all the other soups we had served earlier in the week. "What's the soup today?" we would ask. "Minestrone," he would answer with a sour smile.
I find myself missing the Krym's senseless division into two seating areas, in each of which you couldn't order what was available in the other. I miss the students nursing a beer while pretending to study. I miss the professors hiding in the corner with their pol deci before lunch. I even miss the flies in the washroom, as I enter the Hus' gleaming facilities.
Thankfully, however, the impact of foreign restaurant chains on Slovakia has been limited, if concentrated in wincingly high-traffic areas (the new McDonald's on Hviezdoslavovo námestie beside the national opera).
Take a walk in any direction from downtown Bratislava and you will be back among neighbourhood pubs and their unpretentious clientele.
Or take a walk across Šafárikovo námestie from Hus to Umelka, where the men's room is still waiting for its first urinals. As much as it may surprise you when you first arrive, there's something right about a country where you are still encouraged to pee companionably against a tiled wall.