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RESTAURANT TRAILS

A tough verdict

BRATISLAVA cafes and restaurants split into many categories. There are the bohemian spots stuffed with antique furniture and quirky paintings, the basements lined with long tables of rowdy patrons, and, of course, the dives with glaring tiled floors and a bare minimum of character squeezed from a beer poster or two.

Verdict


VERDICT fits the business-class category with its look...
photo: Eric Smillie

Where: Panská 6, Bratislava
When: Monday-Thursday 11:00-24:00, Friday and Saturday 11:00-1:00, Sunday 14:00-24:00
Reservations:Yes
English menu: Yes
Tel: 0910/930-143
Rating:5 out of 10


BRATISLAVA cafes and restaurants split into many categories. There are the bohemian spots stuffed with antique furniture and quirky paintings, the basements lined with long tables of rowdy patrons, and, of course, the dives with glaring tiled floors and a bare minimum of character squeezed from a beer poster or two.

Another species on the loose is what I call the business-class bar. These are relatively upscale places with overly smooth interiors that favour dark colours and shiny metal.

One example that springs to mind is Trafená Hus, which is lined with TV screens and glass-plated shelves displaying bottles of beer like museum treasures. Another is the Havana Bar which opened in the long-empty spot under Michael's Gate and breathes cheap pretension.

Verdict is the newest restaurant to join this circle of friends.

Plate-glass windows look out onto Panská street and a proudly exposed copper ventilation system hangs from the ceiling. The black wooden tables are thickly built to accommodate recesses filled with sand, gauzy fabric, antique books and cigarette ashes and breadcrumbs that have snuck under the glass surfaces enclosing these kitsch dreamland terrariums.

... but is an average restaurant when it comes to food.
photo: Eric Smillie

The city's cocktail craze is still in full swing, judging by the cocktail menu, which features the usual subjects, most prominently the mojito.

As I discovered on my first visit, some dishes from the dining menu are occasionally unavailable, and there is no guarantee that your dish and that of your companion will come out at the same time, as I found on my second try (though the waitress did apologize).

When the food did arrive, a mozzarella and tomato appetizer (Sk109) was up to par with quality cheese and decent tomatoes considering it was still late winter at the time. The vegetables in the vegetable soup, on the other hand, seemed to have once been freeze-dried.

The Pork Cutlets Taco (Sk179) also failed to impress. The pork was on the cold side while the side of potatoes was steaming hot; the Mexican sauce was more of a veggie-heavy tomato sauce. The stuffed mushrooms topping the cutlets were juicy and delicious, but just after commenting on this for the second time, my companion tilted her head, cocked an eyebrow, and said, "Just what makes this 'taco'?"

A side of Mexican-style rice hit closer to home and was actually rather spicy, which is worth noting as most Slovak restaurants play on the safe side of spiciness.

And a pan of sautéed vegetables with a touch of cheese and cream sauce (Sk129) was a welcome, if greasy, alternative to the vegetarian fare of an average restaurant, another category to which, despite its fancy trappings, Verdict belongs.

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