Reštaurácia Divný Janko is a feast for the senses. It’s tucked away on a forlorn side-street in a forgotten neighborhood of Bratislava, Slovakia; it’s homely and covered in Slovak outsider art; almost all the dishes are fried, smothered in gravy and/or cheese and there is plentiful cold European pilsner to wash everything down.
And for a pittance they will add a slew of blistered Hungarian chiles to any of their plates.
I’ve been in Budapest for two weeks when I decide it’s time to start heading toward Amsterdam via the Danube River. I rent a seat on a hydrofoil boat and a few hours later find myself in Bratislava.
It’s beautiful; partly broken, dusty, nearly deserted and the bars are cheap and filled with tobacco smoke. Time to get down to business. I collar a portly Slovak man in a pub, ascertain that he speaks English, and begin badgering him about the local foodways.
He’s glib and chatty and quickly informs me of a place reasonably nearby that ‘no tourists know of’. I get on the hoof and 30 minutes later find myself at Reštaurácia Divný Janko.
I love it. My needs are tended to by a beautiful Slovak waitress who through elaborate pantomime explains to me what’s on the menu. We both make the universal sign of a hog being dipped into boiling oil and begin laughing riotously-she leaves and I begin drinking as hard as I can.
A few minutes pass and a massive platter of fried pork cutlets arrives. The pork tenderloins have been stuffed with sliced ham and cheese before their denouement in hot fat. Sides of pickled cabbage and french fries accompany the dish.
The briny cabbage does a good job of cutting through the high fat of the fried pork. The french fries are little more than window dressing. I note other diners enjoying home fries and make a mental note to more carefully explain myself next time I’m in Bratislava.
Restaurant Divny Janko
811 06 Bratislava
Staré Mesto-Staré Mesto, Slovakia