REVIEW: Sindibad - An Iraqi Restaurant in Bratislava
By Claire Sturm
In the mood for just a snack and a shisha, habibi? Owned by an Iraqi who has been in Bratislava for over 20 years, Sindibad has the vibe of the Middle East , complete with pop music of the region. Prop yourself in one of the huge, comfortable chairs (each as large as a throne) and matching mother of pearl mosaic tables. The soft lights, the intricate mosaics and carved wooden decorations make it almost intimate - this is a place to lounge in and talk for hours.
Make yourself comfortable and savour a shisha accompanied by a lovely teapot of black tea with cardamon. Food is also available, the menu has exactly what you'd expect from a middle-eastern restaurant, just don't skip the hummus billahma with ground meat and pine nuts and the tabouleh, a deliciously intense salad of parsley and cracked wheat seasoned with lemon juice and tomatoes; you can get falafel or grilled chicken and lamb meat in a pita or as a plate if you wish for something larger and more consistent. One dish that sparked my interest because it's not available in all middle-eastern restaurants is kubba, a lamb meat and cracked wheat dumpling (think of it as the meat-eater's falafel), but unfortunately they were too salty. Your sweet tooth will be satisfied with their baclava or halva.
The detail that struck me almost immediately about this place was the ventilation. I'm not even kidding. I've walked into shisha places and have had my eyes sting within minutes, every surface sticky with the memory of all the flavoured tobacco (not in a good way). But at Sindibad, the smoke of every shisha (and at times there can be 5 or 6 going simultaneously) doesn't linger, it doesn't cling to your clothes or blur your view, it gets silently (yes! silently!) sucked out of the room, leaving only a faint smell of the flavour behind. This means you can enjoy your shisha without having to be subjected to the overpowering cherry tobacco smell of the adjacent table; at most, you'll be harmonizing bubbles.
The large chairs result in one caveat: they take up so much space that there are only about eight tables. Reservations are essential, especially at peak hours. Also, if there is only one waitress working, be ready for slow service, so I'd actually recommend ordering your drinks and shisha as soon as you sit down if you are on a tight schedule. But it's best to come there when you feel like taking your time and relaxing.
Website: www.sindibad.sk (check out the virtual tour!)
Sindibad-Arab Restaurant and Shisha Bar
82108 Bratislava (Ruzinov, near the Mileticova market)
Daily menu: € 4
Black tea with cardamon: € 0.79 (small); € 1.58 (large)
Hummus billahma: € 4.49; Tabouleh: € 4.29; Grilled meats: € 10 to € 13; Kubba: € 3.99; Baclava: € 2.99; Halva: € 2.49
Light meal for two, including tea: about € 15
Shisha: € 5.9; choice of 10 available flavours
Opening hours: 10 a.m. to midnight on weekdays; 4 p.m. to midnight on the week end.
Shisha pipes, tobacco and charcoal are also available for sale there
Claire Sturm grew up with recipes from Mexico, Germany, and France, sometimes in the same meal. She gradually learned that it's not necessarily the geographical origin that determines how good food is, rather the quality of the products and the honesty and care in preparation that are the key to flavourful, satisfying food.