UNDERSTATED elegance at Estremo waits to be discovered.
photo: Ľubomír Nosko
Estremo Pasta & Caffe
Where: Škultétyho 16, Bratislava
When: daily 10:00-22:00
English menu: No
Rating: 10 out of 10
HIDDEN on a quiet street immediately behind the Istropolis cinema building on Trnavské mýto, Estremo is not in sight of most passers-by. Those who do pass by, however, will find it hard to miss the restaurant's plate-glass windows and the striking interior they expose. If they give in to their curiosity and stop in to try the food, foot traffic on Škultétyho Street is guaranteed to increase.
Opaque white glass and dark wood from Orava dominate the restaurant, adorning the minimalist bar and the pillars supporting the high ceiling. By the bar stand white, retro bowl café chairs, while the tables and dining chairs are of the same dark wood. The owner personally designed the interior, escaping overpriced contractors and, in the case of the surprising bathrooms, going against their conservative judgements.
But let us discuss the food before we move on the restroom. When beginning a meal, two kinds of minestrone soup (Sk49) await diners. The more traditional version has a dollop of pesto as a centrepiece and is filled with vegetables. It also includes thinly sliced ham - a treat for meat eaters and an unpleasant surprise for vegetarians.
The spinach minestrone is cream-based. A fellow diner with a delicate tongue rated it subtle and perfectly salted.
A third appetiser, juicy mushrooms stuffed with spinach and baked with caps of Gorgonzola cheese (Sk109) was delicious. The morsels were a pleasure even before the first bite, as they were sprinkled with herbs and crossed with a few stalks of chives that required a symbolic unpacking full of anticipation.
For the main course, turkey stuffed with asparagus, broccoli, and cheese in saffron sauce provoked a string of positive exclamations out of one companion.
Tagliatelle in cream sauce with Parmesan cheese and rare dubák mushrooms pleased another for this last addition, known in English by their Italian name - porcini.
For the more adventurous, there are some surprising creations like the Siciliana Tagliatelle Verdi - tomato sauce with almonds, basil, garlic, and the occasional spicy moment. This is the perfect dish to satisfy a bored palate.
The bored eye, meanwhile, will delight in Estremo's bathrooms, where the sinks have been replaced by basins of stones and drain easily, despite contractors' fears. Washing your hands here feels like visiting a rocky beach in Maine or Croatia by way of virtual reality. The only physical sensations are the soap, water, and paper towels produced by motion sensors; the rest may as well be a figment of your imagination.
The owner, it seems, is bored with the usual locations as well. His previous restaurant was the Rio pub, which is tucked away on a flight of stairs by the Hlavná stanica train station and is often busy. One hopes that his new restaurant enjoys the same popularity, as the location choice pays off for the customer.
Aside from the steaks, which come at Sk249, main courses run between Sk149 and Sk189. For this kind of quality and atmosphere, these prices seem almost too good to be true, and one begins to imagine what Bratislava's dining life would be like if more restaurants moved out of the city centre.
21. Jun 2004 at 0:00 | Eric Smillie