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RESTAURANT REVIEW

Femininity and the bagel


Lilith
Where: Živnostenská 5, Bratislava
When: Monday to Friday 10:00-22:00, Saturday 14:00-22:00, Sunday 15:00-22:00
Reservations: Yes
English menu: No
Tel: 0905/280-002
Rating: 5 out of 10


AN AMERICAN favourite and a multicultural aesthetic rub shoulders.
photo: Ján Svrček

Lilith

Where: Živnostenská 5, Bratislava
When: Monday to Friday 10:00-22:00, Saturday 14:00-22:00, Sunday 15:00-22:00
Reservations: Yes
English menu: No
Tel: 0905/280-002
Rating: 5 out of 10

THERE IS a dorm-room look to the Lilith teahouse, restaurant, and club. Tapestries hang above your head and on the walls, a few rugs are thrown across the floor, and the partitions of wood and gauzy fabric look homemade. In the main room downstairs, a long bench snakes along the walls, facing low bamboo furniture dimly lit by Tibetan lamps inscribed with the ubiquitous ohm. None of this, however, quite hides the tiles and institutional-looking ceiling that hint at the boring space this once was.

The furniture and the decorations are a smorgasbord of styles from the Asian continent, tied together with painted images of topless women with a kind of "this is natural but also sexy" attitude, in reference to the mythical first wife of Adam and feminine supernatural power after which the restaurant is named.

The menu, meanwhile, focuses on the bagel. One of the foods known to bring a sigh of homesickness to US expats, the bagel is rarely found in eastern Europe, and even more rarely meets inflated expectations. Those served here are no exception - though do not take that to mean that they are bad. In fact, they are better than other bready lumps being passed off as such in other parts of Bratislava. And to your pleasure, they can be bought by the piece to go, or in sandwich combinations for any meal.

Most sandwiches feature nátierka zo smotanového syra, Slovakia's answer to whipped cream cheese, though peanut butter and hummus are available. For breakfast, things start simple with butter and jam around Sk35 and end up complicated with the Mexico bagel (jalapeno nátierka, smoked turkey, spiced cheese, and jalapeno salsa) and a smoked salmon bagel for Sk85.

Come lunch or dinner you can make your own combination for Sk125 or else try the BBQ or the Lilith bagels, the latter featuring smoked turkey, spiced bacon, and avocado spread. The feta with hummus, at Sk135, was good - warm, with a soft bagel and a nice contrast between the sharp cheese and the chickpea foundation. Unfortunately, the roasted red peppers promised by the menu failed to appear, as did the chips, salad, and pickle sides. This is a hard letdown considering the high price of the sandwich.

An even greater letdown is the Pita Lilith, the dinner-sized stuffed pita with sautéed cabbage and half-melted niva (blue cheese), and fresh tomato, cucumber, and olives - all topped with... French dressing. Maybe I should have known better, but I thought they might be on to something. They aren't. The pita's carnivorous brother, with chicken fried in herb butter instead of the cheese, fared better with my companions.

But Lilith is not just a restaurant. It is also a teahouse with a decent but not overwhelming tea list, and a kind of hangout club with secluded spaces. Above the main room is a small seating area open to the street. Through a door downstairs there is a lounge with a padded dais where guests can sit or lie on pillows. In the back are a few outdoor tables, though no amount of bamboo can hide the fact that the "terrace" is actually a cement driveway, complete with stray cats.

To round out the clubhouse feel, and to vindicate it somewhat, the two young servers are earnest and informal. They take your comfort seriously and, once certain of it, return to debate which CD to play next as background music.

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