ANXIOUSLY awaiting pirogies...
photo: Eric Smillie
Restaurant U Janusa
Where: Kláštorská 22, Levoča
When:Monday-Friday 10:00-20:00, Saturday and Sunday by reservation only
English menu: Yes
Rating: 6 out of 10
RESTAURANT U Janusa, as the menu says, is a family restaurant. It is an apt description, one that hints at the restaurant's pleasures and pitfalls, and as the name Janus suggests, this family atmosphere has two faces.
A family runs U Janusa on the ground floor of their own home. The building, just a block off of Levoča's main square, dates back to the 17th century. To enter, one first passes through an interior hallway, then turns right to enter the interior proper, which speaks its age through a pleasant simplicity. There is little, if any, pretension in the square dining room or in the smaller adjacent bar. Both are painted in light colours and fitted with pleasant furniture; it is comfortable and homey while still letting you feel as if you were somewhere special.
Likewise, the quick service is hospitable and welcoming and the prices are modest; a main dish costs around Sk70 and a beer Sk28.
Homey, comfy, and modest.
photo: Eric Smillie
The restaurant's second face, however, first shows itself when you open the menu. Much like what you would find at home, the list of dishes available is short and does not go in for unusual combinations or cater to particular tastes. A few specialties include homemade sausages or fish halušky, which we left to the more adventurous diners. For the most part, though, visitors eat the standards that the house is capable of preparing and entrust taste to the cook.
The cook at U Janusa, unfortunately, is not perfect. A Slovak took their bryndzové halušky - potato dumplings in sheep cheese - to task and concluded that the dumplings were made from a powder mix rather than natural ingredients, and that the sauce was too heavy on sour cream and too light on bryndza cheese.
Tofu prepared in a natural style, on the other hand, proved one of the more successful solutions to this soybean food's problem with blandness. Thin slices were fried to a light crisp in spices and herbs, covering as much tofu with seasoning as possible. The downside is that these slices are too few, and even a side of potatoes does not make up the difference for a hungry stomach.
Such disappointments, however, are hard to keep in mind in such pleasant surroundings. After eating we headed to the bar and joked with a few Levoča natives. Back in the dining room a group of five women boisterously set to five plates of pirogies, their party radiating warmth and friendship. Going to the Janus' is a little like visiting someone whose taste does not match your own. The main reason for going is not the food but to see a friendly face.
22. Nov 2004 at 0:00 | Eric Smillie