A TRULY Slovak welcome.
photo: Zuzana Habšudová
Where: Kamzíkov vrch, Bratislava
Open: Mon-Sat 12:00-01:00, Sun 12:00-22:00
English menu: Yes
Rating: 7 out of 10
THE SLOVAK word koliba refers to a small wooden cottage used by shepherds while they tend their flock at pasture. With the passing of time, the word koliba has been transferred from the pastures to the city, where it has come to mean a Slovak restaurant with typical dishes and design.
The Koliba Expo, located in the woods near Bratislava's Kamzík television tower, is one such place. Waiters are dressed in folk costumes, the walls are decorated with animal pelts and Slovak ceramics, and the menu consists of traditional and invented Slovak dishes.
One example of the creative approach was the dish that I had, chicken with pear brandy and fried apples. Despite the use of typical ingredients it is actually a very modern dish because traditional Slovak cuisine is based on cabbage and potatoes and is not particularly sophisticated. Wild boar in rosehip sauce, which was my colleague's pick from Koliba Expo's seasonal menu, is not a common dish either. Both the chicken and the wild boar, the latter accompanied by potato dumplings as a side dish, were very tasty.
The soups we had were more authentic, but the creamy garlic soup was not served in a loaf of bread as is customary and the rich taste of the sheep's cheese (bryndza) in the bryndzová polievka was too mild. At least, as my colleague remarked, those starters were not so filling as to spoil our enjoyment of the main course.
The staff of the restaurant have to be given credit for their outgoing service. The waiter promptly suggested swapping poppy seeds for nuts in the chimney sweep's balls (kominárske guľky) cake when he sensed my hesitation.
The origin of the restaurant's name, Koliba Expo, is somewhat curious. The restaurant's building itself was displayed at the 1967 World Expo in Montreal. When the exhibition ended, the massive wooden structure was taken apart and rebuilt in Bratislava.
The tables and chairs are in complete harmony with the interior, created from huge chunks of wood making them impossible to move. Hopefully, more tasteful handicraft products will soon replace the kitsch Christmas decorations that were spoiling the appearance of the restaurant when we paid it a visit in December.
Because the restaurant has only tiny windows covered with curtains, it would be quite a stuffy place on a sunny summer day. But during the cold winter months, it is great to sit in a cottage by an open fireplace and have a hearty meal with a glass of hot wine. Especially, when you go there after a pleasant walk in the surrounding area, taking in a view of the city from the Kamzík TV tower.
Note: Public transport does not go all the way up the hill. Since it is quite a long walk from the last stop of trolleybus #203, a car is recommended.