A NEWLY opened eatery hooks you with its meatless specialties.
photo: Eric Smillie
Where: Štefániková 14, Bratislava
Open: Monday to Friday 10:00-22:00,
Saturday and Sunday 11:00-22:00
English menu: Yes
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
AT LAST, a real vegetarian sit-down restaurant has opened in Bratislava, one that explores the style in its own right rather than approximating meat or serving standard meals with the meat missing. Here ingredients are pushed to be themselves, with successful results, and fried cheese is conspicuously missing from the menu.
The restaurant's simple decorations, heavy furniture, and rugs and drapes make a homey atmosphere. Meanwhile, a prominent fish tank in front adds a bit of public character and a few photographs keep the walls from looking too bare. Smokers sit on an L-shaped balcony overlooking the ground floor and high windows.
Add main courses averaging around Sk115 and very friendly servers and the result is a relaxed atmosphere where diners feel comfortable staying after dinner for drinks, which many do. During lunch, however, it is too busy to linger long.
Special attention must have been given to the menu to ensure it offered some unique and interesting dishes. The Eggplant Nut, for instance: slices of eggplant in a nut-cheese sauce. Or the Arabian bread with hummus, a welcome dish that could use a bit more flavour. There is also the elegant tempeh skewer, in which the slices of this soybean product come squeezed between onions and peppers.
A Mexican theme also runs through the menu, with dishes like spicy Mexican-style beans in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, and olives - a personal favourite. Another option is Our Enchiladas, containing roasted soy mix, cream, and cheese, which, unfortunately, tastes a little plain.
Most of the dishes, though, are related to the region, such as the potato-pumpkin fritters with bryndza sheep cheese. Another meatless Slovak standby is the baked broccoli or cauliflower that come in a cream sauce with nutmeg or with different cheeses in the vegetarian section and in tomato-basil sauce in the dairy-free vegan section.
Don't worry; the menu also addresses meat eaters. I know it is our job, but none of us have ever gotten around to trying the meat dishes, which is another flavour point in favour of the vegetarian food. But the meat items sound good - roasted chicken breasts with honey and walnuts, Devil Rib-steak Medallions with chilli sauce, and the very intriguing Spicy Chicken Lizards, which means chicken-breast noodles in French mustard with chilli peppers and garlic.
On the side there are also some special details. To drink are mixed loose teas and fresh vegetable and fruit drinks, including the restaurant's eponymous drink, which combines orange, lemon, and carrot juice. Yum.
With meals you can order whole and curried rice in addition to the usual white, while the fresh salads come in large and small sizes, allowing you to complement your meal with one. A fine lentil soup is also to be had; though the offer changes daily.
This restaurant stands out for serving meatless food and doing it well with unique dishes. In terms of flavour it is above average but still has a little way to go.
1. Mar 2004 at 0:00 | Eric Smillie