AJ VEGA offers plenty of choice but you might find it lacks taste.
photo: Eric Smillie
Where: Orlia ulica 10, Košice
When: Monday-Thursday 11:00-22:00, Friday 11:00-24:00, Saturday-Sunday 11:00-22:00
English menu: Yes
Rating: 3 out of 10
I WANTED to like this vegetarian restaurant. During my stay in Košice I went back three times because, as a vegetarian in Slovakia, my choice of meals at most restaurants is not wide. For this reason I am tempted to stand in solidarity with all Slovak restaurants that serve meatless dishes and applaud the amazing food they offer. Unfortunately, in the case of Aj vega that would be a lie.
The "wild road" décor is not the problem. The licence plates and hubcaps are perfectly pleasing. Nor is service the problem, as the wait staff is very prompt. Too prompt, in fact, considering that one is hard-put to choose from the myriad items on the menu.
A few choices made, however, and one finds that everything has the same strange taste.
Things went wrong from the beginning of the meal with a couvert of a few chips and imitation-hamburger soy mix in a tomato-based sauce heavy with some unidentifiable taste. If this flavour were a colour, it would be a lifeless brown; a failed assemblage of other flavours in which only the most mediocre of tastes manage to make themselves known.
The same odd taste permeated the bean solet (Sk89), a bean mash that done right is quite delicious but in this case was too pasty and thick. A side order of Arabian bead, meanwhile, turned out to be thick chunks of fried dough too dry to finish.
From the way they lay limply on the plate on arrival I could tell that the stuffed quesadillas would prove no better. The boiled cauliflower and broccoli were average. The cabbage soup, which so often comes with sausage that my heart skips a beat when I see a vegetarian version, was a profoundly watery disappointment.
The only exception was the Mexican bean soup, which managed to express a defined, delicate spiciness. Is it just an accident or the avatar of a better future? I doubt I will be back to find out.
7. Mar 2005 at 0:00 | Eric Smillie