My summer in Bratislava is coming to an end. I haven’t written about it, it’s been intensely interesting, and now the challenge is to find a place to start. Restaurant Reviews is the archetypal application of all technology prototypes, the locative-microcontent-web20 Holy Grail. And eating, finding a place to eat, and discussing places to eat has been the most popular activity. So there’s a start.
15 years out of Communism, and 4 years to the Euro, Bratislava is a good place to eat. It’s so cheap that we can eat out pretty much every meal, and we do cause we’re lazy and shopping at the hypermarket Tesco’s is not for the timid (fine quality of food, just intensely stressfully busy). The traditional fare is pretty stably good. Bread dumplings and pork, pepper steaks, potatoes, onion soups. Geographically consistent. Places like basement Communist chic of Apetit, or cosy old town moat of Prashna Bashna. Umelka is a huge beer garden with the best bad music and loads of barbequed meats; the photo above from the Praque Spring (in Bratislava) was taken just outside (it’s unclear if he visited Umelka before this action). The biggest distinction in my experience is that every item has a precise weight measurement listed in the menu. Cabbage Soup (200g), Ketchup (15g), and Wine sold in 10g units. Well to be precise, this practice is shared with Velvet Divorcee Czech Republic, and maybe other places in Eastern Europe I haven’t researched. We reckon Ketchup is a relatively new condiment, judging by how much people slather on perfectly good pizza.
A crop of new restaurants are establishing themselves, invasive species blowing in from the west and finding an environment conducive to their growth. Ukraine Orange is very popular on the streets (as are all sorts of citrus clothing combinations), and the most Western of establishments like Pizza Mizza and Coffee and Co local Starbucks clone are bright slathered in Orange. This hue, signifier of change, people power free from corruption, is being quickly adopted as the color of Capitalism. I rather precitably, have spent many mornings in Bagel and Coffee Story trying to read Slovak newspapers and getting sucked into Sudoku, while eating a reasonable anti-kosher bacon bagel facsimile topped with both cream cheese and the more solid type.
Paparazzi is the place to go for a nice meal. Or U.F.O., the UFO-ish looking bridge called Novy Mast. Though these places aren’t cheap, we constantly play the game “how much would this cost in the UK” and come out feeling pretty good. Paparazzi does some pretty nice Italian food, and U.F.O. is slanted towards Asian Fusion, with ice cream the common condiment. It’s goooood. Ice cream is everywhere in Bratislava, low fat and very flavored; it’s eaten for breakfast and why not? The pic above is the view towards the Petrezalka section of Bratislava from U.F.O.’s toilet. It’s among the densest housing in Europe, and is a bizarre landscape for sure. Novy Mast enters the Old Town right through what used to be the Jewish Ghetto, and its approach continues to bisect the core of the town. There’s now a black marble very somber memorial to the Jewish section, underneath the highway.
Here’s all your Bratislava favorites in one Coke machine.
The Communists were extremely fond of passageways, through buildings and under roads. Despite the tendency for these kind of spaces to degrade, there’s plenty of commerce .. fresh produce every day and the smell of pastries wafting from Fornetti.
One day we decided to walk to the other usual architectural stamp of the Soviet era, the architecturally interesting TV tower with restaurant. On the hottest day of the year, so here we are deliriously enjoying Zlaty Bazant (Golden Pheasant), the national beer of Slovakia. It’s so good and cheap, in a parallel world Zlaty emerges directly out of mountain springs. Unlike Novy Mast, the facilities at the TV tower had not been renovated and still had a sweet socialist feel. The bar at the base seemed to be a local gathering place for gangsters, with muscles and expensive sports cars and gangsta rap far away from the intrusions of town. The restaurant upstairs did actually revolve, the tables laid on a tacky off color track.
Despite all these options, the day I write this we ate at home the whole day, having discovered Vasterbottensost (northern Swedish cheese) and Risgrinsgrot (rice porridge) in the fridge, bounty brought back from the last trip to Sweden.