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Review: Kosher cooking, Bratislava style

CHEZ DAVID is the only restaurant in Slovakia that offers kosher food, which means it is cooked according to Jewish law. The rules are manifold but one of the most essential ones is not mixing milk and meat, and certain meats, like pork, are completely prohibited. Because Chez David is a so-called 'fleischig' (meat) restaurant, you will not find any dishes that contain milk or any other milk products. So forget about coffee with milk; non-dairy creamer will have to do.
The chef in Chez David has a rich local tradition of Jewish cuisine to build upon, and the restaurant offers specialities like chicken soup with matzoh balls, cholent (a stew with potatoes, beans, and meat), barkhes (sweet bread), and home-made strudel with apples and poppy seeds.
A great part of the restaurant's meat menu is made up of chicken and turkey, rounded out by several fish and vegetarian dishes.

Chez David

Where: Zámocká 13, Bratislava
Tel: 02/5441-3824
Open: Sun-Thu 11:30-22:00, Fri 11:30-15:00
English menu: Yes
Reservations: Yes
Rating: 8 out of 10

CHEZ DAVID is the only restaurant in Slovakia that offers kosher food, which means it is cooked according to Jewish law. The rules are manifold but one of the most essential ones is not mixing milk and meat, and certain meats, like pork, are completely prohibited. Because Chez David is a so-called 'fleischig' (meat) restaurant, you will not find any dishes that contain milk or any other milk products. So forget about coffee with milk; non-dairy creamer will have to do.

The chef in Chez David has a rich local tradition of Jewish cuisine to build upon, and the restaurant offers specialities like chicken soup with matzoh balls, cholent (a stew with potatoes, beans, and meat), barkhes (sweet bread), and home-made strudel with apples and poppy seeds.

A great part of the restaurant's meat menu is made up of chicken and turkey, rounded out by several fish and vegetarian dishes.

From the vegetarian and fish parts of the menu, you could put together a fine lunch or dinner consisting of, lets say, a tomato filled with spinach and fried in olive oil as a starter, pumpkin soup, and then trout with garlic and horseradish if you are in the mood for fish. Or you could choose eggplant in pastry with basil sauce.

The many poultry dishes are either sweet in flavour, made with apples and dates, or they are more spicy, with sauces that contain celery, olives, or spinach.

To taste both, we chose grilled chicken with honey and cinnamon, and chicken with avocado and lemon sauce. The first one was rather traditional and the second one slightly exotic. Both were very balanced in ingredients and were quite tasty. The only objection we had was that the amount of rice served could have been more generous.

Even though the menu is not an extensive read, consisting of up to 30 dishes, it compensates with originality and invention. But if you wonder why the prices in Chez David are over the average one would pay in a regular restaurant, it is because all the ingredients have to be kosher. The strict Jewish rule leaves the restaurant with only one supplier, especially for meat products.

The same restrictions go for wine, which is made following a special procedure, so expect to pay almost Sk500 for a bottle. However, you know that you are paying for quality, because the kosher rules guarantee that everything is prepared with the utmost care.

Some people might not know the precise meaning of "kosher" when it comes to food, but the word is commonly heard in everyday speech with a slightly different meaning. If you hear someone saying something is not kosher, he or she means it is not correct or that it raises suspicion.

Chez David, which has high standards when it comes to food quality and service, has a maitre d' and waiters who truly look after their customers. This high standard, however, is not apparent in the interior's decor. There are too many different styles combined together in a single room and they do not match each other.

But despite the inconsistency of the styles, the interior seems quite boring. Maybe the colours used should be changed or maybe just getting rid of the artificial flowers would be the right thing to do, to give the room more life.

The restaurant is situated under the castle hill, close to the holocaust memorial, in the area that used to be the Jewish quarter. Since it was established in 1993, Chez David has added an extra touch to Bratislava's dining culture, where Jewish cuisine was absent for almost a decade.

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