1. When ordering drinks, remember that Slovaks count beginning with the thumb (1), then the thumb and index finger (2), and so on. If you raise your index finger to signify one beer, you may end up with a confused waiter bringing two.
2. ‘Na zdravie’ is equivalent to the English ‘cheers’, literally meaning ‘to health’. Before the first round, you are expected to clink glasses (štrngnúť) – at which point remember to make eye contact with your fellow clinker, and don’t cross the path of two other clinkers. Many Slovaks will first clink the top of their beer mugs, then the bottom, then the table in a choreographed pre-drink ritual. After the first round, it’s no longer necessary to štrngnúť.
3. On weekdays between about 11:00 and 14:00 many restaurants offer a daily menu (denné menu) with two or three alternative dishes. The price is usually between € 3 and € 5 and, as lunch is the main meal of the day for most Slovaks, it consists of soup, a main course and in some restaurants a non-alcoholic beverage and dessert is also included.
4. If you’re a vegetarian be careful what you order. Even apparently innocuous dishes like cabbage soup tend to come with chunks of pork sausage bobbing around in them. Anyone who happens to like vegetables will also pine for fresh greens, which do not feature prominently in Slovak cuisine.
5. It’s not always service with a smile. Don’t take offence if your waiter or waitress fails to smile; it’s not personal. Customer service in many places in Slovakia hasn’t reached the levels it has in top tourist destinations.
6. There is no strict rule about tipping in Slovakia. Ten percent of the total is enough; 20 percent is too much. When handing your waiter the money, tell him how much you’d like to pay, not how much you’d like to receive back in change. Do the same if paying by credit card, or just leave the tip in cash. Some Slovaks only round up the bill; others calculate tips as 10 percent of the total.
9. May 2012 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff