TASTY food, weak service.
photo: Brian Jones
Where: Hotel Perugia, Zelená 5
Open: Mon-Sun 7:00-23:00
English menu: Yes
Rating: 7 out of 10
WHEN it comes to cooking, you can definitely tell that Slovaks and Hungarians are neighbours because there are many similarities between their national specialities. Both cuisines feature hearty meat dishes with creamy and/or spicy sauces and many potato side dishes - potato dumplings (halušky), potato pancakes (zemiaková placka) or regular fried potatoes. Fresh vegetables usually appear as decoration only.
Gazdovský dvor, the new Hungarian restaurant in Bratislava's old town, offers all the traditional dishes one would expect. Choosing from its menu, which lists many additional dishes, is not an easy task. Among the soups (halászlé), the typical Hungarian fish soup is a must-try and that will not disappoint. It has just the right amount of paprika and delicious pieces of fish and is served in a very original way; in a small kettle with a candle to keep the soup warm. The garlic soup, served in a hollowed-out loaf of bread, is creamy and full of flavour.
Perhaps surprisingly, there is a very satisfying array of fish dishes. My friend chose zander in a creamy mushroom sauce. And not to neglect the meat options, I ordered the rather unusual composition of chicken fried in almonds and drizzled with a cherry sauce. Both meals were tasty, but nothing out of the ordinary; just good home cooking that did not disappoint. The prices charged (Sk300 for the fish) seemed to promise a more memorable culinary experience.
To keep it authentic, we decided on Somló (pron. Shomlo) cake for dessert, which could be vaguely described as a Hungarian version of tiramisu. Like the Italian speciality, it is made of several layers of biscuits, pudding, cream and whipped cream and, similar to its Italian cousin, it has numerous local varieties that differ from village to village. The 'Bratislava version' has a lot of pudding but no raisins or biscuits dipped in rum or other liqueur, as is often customary. It is therefore not too sweet and very enjoyable.
The service at Gazdovský dvor is friendly and forward but not as professional as it should be. The waiter should not ask for the customer's credit card without first showing the customer the bill, as happened to us. And if a restaurant serves bread and pate before the meal and charges its customers a cover for it, the waiter should leave the food standing on the table unless he asks for permission to take it away.
And last but not least, a good restaurant should be careful not to ruin its reputation by charging Sk40 for a small bottle of mineral water or by including only the prices of bottles on the wine list not the prices per glass. The customer is still king, and he still likes to be treated like one.