For your benefit this last week I spent an inordinate amount of time in local restaurants, instead of staying home and eating my now regular meal of bread, string cheese and perhaps an apple. Consider this the Zagat's of Presov, at least until the actual Presov Zagat's is released.
Fiezda is located directly across the street from school, and is akin to "The Max" from "Saved by the Bell". Opinions on the Fiezda vary, with proposals to go there for lunch eliciting everything from shouts of joy and high-fiving all the way to whimpering and shrieks of terror. I personally think it is O.K., but I generally eat bread and string cheese (see above), so I guess my opinion is perhaps compromised.
Food: The menu at Fiezda changes regularly, I think, or it is also possible that I forget what is on the menu and am constantly surprised. It leans toward standard Slovak fare, with three different preparations of Vyprazany Syr, as seen here:
If I had a gun to my head and had to recommend something, I would go with the chicken thingy which comes with a pile of coleslaw. I never liked coleslaw, and I don't now, but I tend to eat this particular coleslaw and not feel particularly unhappy about it for some reason.
I wouldn't recommend the fish, even though I have never had it at Fiezda. Someone told me that Slovakia is as far away from the sea as you can get in Europe. I don't have the facts on this, but I tend to believe it, especially after an unfortunate incident I had eating fish at the school cafeteria, the details of which should be available in the forthcoming edition of The European Journal of Gastroenterology.
Rating: "Abandon (some) hope, ye who enter here"
Beverages: Fiezda offers a range of coffees, beers and soft drinks. Many people come here just to drink, which makes quite a bit of sense. Here you can also find the most popular Slovak drink, in regular and citrus flavors, Kofola:
Kofola is hugely popular with the kids, who prefer it to Coke and Pepsi, which many Slovaks find to be too sweet. I often have debates about Kofola with my students, which I think tastes like a combination of corn syrup, paprika and battery acid that has been vomited upon. I hesitate to criticize the Kofola for fear of my safety, but it just isn't for me. However, if you've got to drink it go with the citrus, and get it from the tap.
Rating: 9/2 (out of 3)
Ambiance: The Fiezda is separated into the smoking and non-smoking rooms. When I eat alone I go to the non-smoking room, where I am generally by myself and am free to eat and contemplate things such as why my ATM card refuses to work in peace. If I am with another person, however, that person is inevitably European, so it is off to the smoking room.
When I read the greatly bearded C. Everett Koop's 1984 statement that smoking "is a voluntary act: one does not have to smoke if one does not want to," I immediately knew that he had never eaten at Fiezda in the smoking room. I'm trying to say that it is very smokey, albeit in a clever roundabout way. I have failed. Here is a picture:
I've actually grown used to the smoke, and have learned to live with my new emphysema. The smoking room is actually made cool by the fact that it holds the "babyfoot" table, which is foosball to you American folks:
I don't know why, but I've always had trouble calling it babyfoot like the Europeans. I think this is due to a joke I heard in grad school about a baby's arm, but I'm not sure, I'm not a psychologist.
Value: Not even all that cheap, with some hot fried cheese running you about 2.50. I view my trips to Fiezda as a bit of a luxury, but you can score some "American potatoes" for a buck.
Rating: 8 (out of whatever)
Service: I like one of the waiters, who dresses like Mr. Belevedere's long lost son, but the waitress is somewhat surly. Then again, most waitresses here are somewhat surly, so I guess I shouldn't complain.
Rating: Just give me the fried cheese
If this restaurant were an animal, it would be: A hamster, with a social disease.
Widely considered to be the best pizza place in town, it has two convenient locations on the main street and is named after a cockroach. Here are some pictures of the front door:
Food: The food here is generally good, although I've only had the pizza. There are some eye-catching menu items such as Argentinean something-or-other(my translation), but the pizza is the reason to go.
Like many Slovak pizza places, the Cuc offers a number of non-traditional toppings such as vajcia (egg), hrášok (peas) and morský koktejl (something about a shark). They also go pretty heavy on the corn, which I have grown to appreciate. But avoid "The Diablo", it is a real fireball.
Ambiance: Depends on the Cucaracha you choose. One is upstairs in a smoke filled room with a number of pool tables and is lit like the timeout room at Abu Ghraib. The other is downstairs in what looks like a well-lit fallout shelter with wooden benches. Can't go wrong either way.
Rating: Sophie's Choice
Service: I don't remember anything particularly negative, and the Cucaracha stands out by giving those of us whose Slovak is a bit non-existant the ability to order online for home delivery. This is much appreciated. And that is also the rating, "much appreciated". This ratings conceit is becoming a bit much.
If this restaurant were an animal, it would be: A cockroach on PCP, making pizzas.
The Irish Pub
In the interest of full disclosure, I know in passing the three sisters who jointly run this fine establishment. Therefore I am somewhat biased, but you probably wouldn't trust my opinions anyway, so whatever.
The I.P. is quite a swanky establishment, and is one of only two places in town that offer Guinness. It's also where the dregs of the English-speaking world, like me, often meet, so it's a good place to run into a native speaker.
Here are some pictures of the I.P., along with pictures of the heads of the French people whom I generally go there with:
Food: I have been to the Irish Pub about five times, and have always had the same thing, so I will tell you about the aforementioned thing. It is called "The Paddy" and is essentially a piece of corn on the cob and some ribs. I think this is the only place to get ribs in town, and it reminds me of the Lenexa BBQ Battle, so I get the ribs for sentimental reasons.
The ribs are good, but they have a bit of a problem (always something). The ribs are not so much seasoned as caked in salt, to the point that I honestly get slightly chapped lips after eating them. I once even got a headache after eating the ribs, which I attributed to dehydration from the salt (and not the beers). Why do I keep eating them? Well, I like salt, although I don't like it nearly as much as Slovaks, who must win the Hypertension competition at the Cardiac Arrest Olympics quadrennially. Can you believe I just used the word quadrennially? I actually had to look it up.
They also have chicken wings, which you can order by the piece a la Hooters (not that I have ever eaten there)(but I did work there)(in the back)(not a euphemism). They look tasty, and I may give them a whirl on my next trip.
Rating: Salt Lick!
Value: One of the priciest places in town, but on the whole it's worth it, with food prepared with fancy artistic garnishes of parsley and whatnot. Good for that special night out with that special person who especially likes salt.
Rating: Cough it up
Ambiance: Nice wood paneling, a warm fireplace, and a long bar covered with Guinness mementos. If you drink enough you can make yourself believe you are at an Irish bar in any other European country, besides Ireland.
Rating: I don't know, I can't really quantify this
Service: The three sisters are always working the place in shifts, and are very friendly to us foreigners. I think part of the reason is that my friend J.C. (no relation), who I often meet at the I.P., is extremely close to the family, and is even the godfather of one of their kids. Nothing gets you good service like knowing the guy who gets good service, so good service is gotten by me. I'm tired of the ratings.
If this restaurant were an animal, it would be: Delicious
I've never been in, I just liked the sign.
At this point in the post I would like to proposition you. Me and one of the great French filmakers of our time, the Vi, are working on making a movie, and we want you to be in it! All you need is a crappy digital camera that has a video function, and someoene to hold it for you. If you're interested in being rich, famous, and ridiculed daily on VH1 please e-mail me at Velvetwinter@gmail.com. Later Taters!