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The Slovak Spectator's top restaurants of 2003


Tempus Fugit

Where: Sedlárska 5, Bratislava
Tel: 02/5441-4357
Open: daily 10:00-24:00
English menu: Yes
Reservations: Yes
Rating: 8 out of 10
QUITE a new addition to Bratislava's high-end restaurants, you can tell from its stiff and impassive facçade, maintained against one of the old city's noisier streets, that here you will be treated like royalty arriving home.


SLOVAKIA's helping of restaurants keeps on piling up.
photo: Ján Svrček

Tempus Fugit


Where: Sedlárska 5, Bratislava
Tel: 02/5441-4357
Open: daily 10:00-24:00
English menu: Yes
Reservations: Yes
Rating: 8 out of 10

QUITE a new addition to Bratislava's high-end restaurants, you can tell from its stiff and impassive facçade, maintained against one of the old city's noisier streets, that here you will be treated like royalty arriving home.

Inside the restaurant an old interior receives a chic, modern interpretation. Amidst stately grey stone arches are poised trim but weighty tables of pale wood and minimal chairs that manage to be comfortably cushioned in light orange upholstery. An intimate dining area opens into a two-story atrium with a bar area and appropriate seating. On the second floor a balcony runs around the edge of the atrium with additional tables that stretch back into alcoves hung with tapestries.

Like the interior, the dishes are delicately and delightfully presented, yet hide a medieval richness.

Unobtrusive but very attentive, the wait staff brings the courses quickly. Vichyssoise soup or a smoked salmon and avocado starter can be a pleasing beginning. For main courses try the delicious veal medallions served over soft capers, sage, roasted zucchini, and potatoes (Sk490), or ricotta ravioli in zucchini cream sauce (Sk270). Vegetarians should be ready to ask a few questions of the servers though, as bits of shrimp arrive unannounced in these plump packages. There is something for the fish lover as well; one dish that clearly stands out is grilled pike on a bed of fennel (Sk440).


Carpe Diem


Where: Hlavná 95, Prešov
Tel: 051/7723-051
Open: Mon-Fri 8:00-23:00, Sat 9:00-23:00, Sun 10:00-23:00
English menu: Yes
Reservations: Yes
Rating: 9 out of 10

There are those who say that the quality of a simple dish of pasta in tomato sauce can serve as an index of a restaurant's calibre; when it is raised from ordinary to exciting, the other items offered by the kitchen must also be of a special quality.

Such is the case at Carpe Diem, a restaurant with an inviting atmosphere, located on Prešov's main square. There, a plate of pasta with fresh green basil and capers amid a light dusting of cheese in a sauce, not at all shy on the garlic, is simply delicious.

The success of this dish bodes well for the rest of the menu. Among enticing appetisers is the option for diners to order their own grilled combination from a list of vegetables. Then there are twenty-odd pasta dishes, all around Sk100, such as artichoke or eggplant with capers.

Next come two pages of specials, each with its own history. One, for example, called Something Delicious in the local dialect, originates from an old quarter of Prešov and includes three different meats, three potato cakes, sour cream, and cabbage (Sk280).


Fontána Bistro


Where: Kúpeľná ulica, Trenčianske Teplice
Tel: 032/6553-744
Open: daily 9:00-23:00
English menu: Yes
Reservations: Yes
Rating: 8 out of 10


This inviting Arabic restaurant is a lovely spot for a tasty meal or a cosy afternoon with a cup of coffee with cardamom.

Located in the pedestrian zone of the spa city, the restaurant offers a generous selection of food on a menu that is also in Arabic, suggesting that the food has legitimacy and that the owners take pride in the meals they serve. Starters include various spreads like baba ganoush (an aubergine spread) or hummus, and salads, all of which go very well with pita bread. Of the soups, try the lentil soup, which is very tasty, and moderately spiced. A similar pattern holds for the other dishes. But be careful with the delicious falafel, fried patties made from ground chickpeas and spices: For Sk60 the portion is a bit too small to serve as a main dish.

From the many meat dishes, mostly grilled, we recommend a Syrian kebab, minced meat on a skewer.


Medusa Restaurant and Bar


Where: Michalská 21, Bratislava
Tel: 02/5464-7344
Open: daily Mon-Wed, Sun 10:00-24:00, Thu-Sat 10:00-01:00
English menu: Yes
Reservations: Yes
Rating: 8 out of 10

Could we sum up restaurants of the year without mentioning Medusa? We hardly need to bring the spot to your attention, as everything about it is already designed to do so; the prime location right underneath Michael's Gate, the large glass windows, the funky lighting, and of course the flashy patrons it attracts.

Joining Bratislava's other glitzy restaurants, including People's, Paparazzi, and Mezzo, Medusa is modern in design and image. The cocktail lounge has fashion photographs on the walls and designer chairs. Inside, the restaurant is discreetly placed around the corner from the bar. Outside, one sits above the street on a little stage from which the passing foot-traffic can be evaluated.

The choice of starters, soups, and salads also cries out for attention, with delights such as asparagus with hollandaise sauce, snails, duck liver, Greek salad with goat cheese, and quail broth.

Most of the dishes are straight out of the nouvelle cuisine genre, with light sauces and fresh vegetables. One example of this is the arugula salad with a daring but smashing combination of sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan, and capers. The lamb dishes are quite gristly, but on the other hand, one of the fish entrees, the salmon fillet in a spinach "nest", tastes like it has been freshly delivered from somewhere in Scandinavia.

Desserts, particularly when consumed with a perfectly pulled Italian espresso, are divine.


Lacinka


Where: Šancová 18, Bratislava
Tel: 02/5249-7414
Open: daily Mon-Fri 11:00-20:00, Sun 14:00-21:00
English menu: No
Reservations: No
Rating:8 out of 10

Perhaps familiar to Slovak readers, for the rest this is a must if you want to claim to know Bratislava. Entering this crepe (palacinky) place for the first time is like suddenly finding a new walk-in closet in a tiny two-room apartment.

Here is the protocol: Stand in line in the little dining area, read the menu of sweet (sladké) and salty (slané) fillings on the wall, and when your turn comes give your order through the little brown window in the wall. You can eat at one of the four tables, or if you want the pancakes to go (so sebou), just ask when you order.

Appreciation of the fine flavours of these treats is whispered across the city, and written on used paper plates pinned to the restaurant's corkboard. And the late Sunday hours just add to this place's particularity.


Compiled by Eric Smillie

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