Spa idyll could be more patient with fish

IF IT WERE NOT for the thermal spring in this north Slovak town, there would probably not be a restaurant to write about.
Built on an island in a picturesque lake, and joined to the mainland by a wooden bridge, the Rybárska bašta restaurant is part of a modern restructured spa complex in Rajecké Teplice. Girdled by the panorama of the Malá Fatra mountains, this natural paradise is only a 20-minute drive from Žilina.
Rybárska bašta's cuisine can best be enjoyed after spending several relaxing hours in the spa's large whirlpools and four different saunas - herbal, salty, Arabic and Finnish.


FISHERMAN's Fort offers a surprising variety of seafood.
photo: Zuzana Habšudová

Rybárska bašta

Where: Kúpele Rajecké Teplice (Rajecké Teplice Spa), Rajecké Teplice
Tel: 041/5494-030
Open: daily 10:00-24:00
English menu: Yes
Reservations: Yes
Rating: 9 out of 10

IF IT WERE NOT for the thermal spring in this north Slovak town, there would probably not be a restaurant to write about.

Built on an island in a picturesque lake, and joined to the mainland by a wooden bridge, the Rybárska bašta restaurant is part of a modern restructured spa complex in Rajecké Teplice. Girdled by the panorama of the Malá Fatra mountains, this natural paradise is only a 20-minute drive from Žilina.

Rybárska bašta's cuisine can best be enjoyed after spending several relaxing hours in the spa's large whirlpools and four different saunas - herbal, salty, Arabic and Finnish.

The restaurant has three floors with an overall capacity of 15 tables, starting from the 'Undersea Aquarium' in the cellar, the main restaurant on the ground floor and the 'Bistro Bar' at the top. The large windows framing the restaurant offer a view of the surrounding lake, whose waters are so clear that you can see the large fish swimming beneath its surface.


WATCH out for fountains.
photo: Zuzana Habšudová

It is fish (although none from the lake) that dominate the menu of the Rybárska Bašta, which in English means Fisherman's Fort. Ten varieties of fish are served in different ways in 20 dishes. You can choose from fresh- and saltwater fish; have them steamed, grilled or fried; and pay anywhere from Sk70 to Sk230 ($2-5) for the meal.

My two friends and I started our early dinner with a French onion soup and the Hungarian halászlé (spicy fish broth) soup. While blowing the heat off the cheese in the former, and circumventing the massive spicy peppers (feferoni) in the latter, we took in the restaurant interior. A solid wood affair, with fish shapes moulded into the chairs and folk costumes from different Slovak regions carved into the walls.

We were somewhat surprised (and annoyed) to be served entrees at different times. First we received the fish - carp in almonds and shark in wine - and after 15 minutes came the Šopský salad. The food was fantastic, but after sharing my experience with other people who have visited the place, we all agree the Rybárska bašta could afford to let the fish relax on the grill a little longer, and perhaps bringing all the dishes at once.

While the autumn warmth lasts you can also sit outside on a terrace and watch the swans and ducks swimming on the lake. If you wish to join them, you can rent a boat on the island. Just beware of the fountains under the surface of the water - they tend to splash you just as you are entering the tipsy craft.

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