A look of mystery

Where: Račianske Mýto 1/A, Bratislava
Tel: 02/4425 - 0530
Open: Mon-Thu 19:00-24:00, Fri 9:00-02:00, Sat 11:00-02:00, Sun 11:00-24:00
English menu: Yes
Reservations: Yes
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

DINERS in consideration.
photo: Eric Smillie

Red Café Restaurant

Where: Račianske Mýto 1/A, Bratislava
Tel: 02/4425 - 0530
Open: Mon-Thu 19:00-24:00, Fri 9:00-02:00, Sat 11:00-02:00, Sun 11:00-24:00
English menu: Yes
Reservations: Yes
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

RED Café Restaurant has style. Which style it is, I'm not sure, but I have my theories.

In the middle of the restaurant, on either side of the bar, two tall statues of brown, topless women holding metal rods seem to guard the entrance to a South American jungle temple. On the walls, on the other hand, are some modern Slovak decorative standbys: large pictures of beautiful and mostly naked women, and several free-form glass statues in nooks in the wall.

In a cosmopolitan look, two full glass walls face out onto Račianske Mýto. In the summer, they open and tables are set between the sidewalk and the park next door. At night, neon lights in recesses above the windows create the warm red glow that, I imagine, shines from the roadside diner of Americana legend.

THE RESTAURANT's hot pick.
photo: Eric Smillie

Several large cactuses; blue, red, yellow, and green ceiling lamps; and matching blue, red, and yellow walls reveal a relationship between the restaurant and the modern decorative image of the southwestern United States.

The thin ring of contrasting, solid-colour shapes set in black lines around the rim of my bowl of very sweet tomato soup with cheese (Sk40) add credibility to this last possibility.

The presence of spicy dishes on the menu potentially adds more support. My companion had crabsticks in beer batter with piquant sauce (Sk61). Any other potential flavours hidden in the two sticks that made up this dish were drowned out by the sauce. On the positive side, baby corns were part of the accompanying salad. Spicy beef sauté on curried rice is another hot option.

However, curried rice is hardly "right" for the southwestern United States.

To get it straight, the restaurant menu makes no claim to a unified theme. Attention-grabbing items like baked snails with herb butter, a dinner size vegetable salad with chicken and apples, or the intriguing grilled salmon with eggplant sauce and spinach noodles are enticing but not thematically coherent. If you pass these and reach the back of the menu, you'll find that you can order pizzas, and can even design your own.

We did not take this option. Thus we discovered that the wine and Worcestershire sauce that covers the Red Café steak (Sk238) is more delicate than the piquant crab sauce. This pleased my fellow diner, who remarked that the cut was a good size and the dish satisfying. More baby corns came in the salad.

Vegetarian investigations show that the four-cheese pasta (Sk119) is not as pleasing as the vegetable pasta. Some other vegetarian items, like the mushroom sauté with dill (Sk110), or the pepper stuffed with feta, are tasty and novel, but not quite big enough to make a meal. And pasta does not represent any part of the Americas.

The people who fill the restaurant, seating themselves comfortably on the puffy red leather chairs, look healthy and well dressed. Pilsner Urquell comes a little costly, at Sk44 a half litre, and there is a cocktail menu in addition to the wine list (also in English). But this is no Medusa restaurant, for which you must consider your outfit carefully and check twice in the mirror before heading into the city centre.

And this is the key to understanding the spot's style. Combine the look of the guests, the baby corns, and the two glass walls onto Račianske Mýto, and you have a very middleclass picture. Why go to the city centre when closer to home there is a flashy, comfortable restaurant brimming with styles?

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