Category Archives: Reviews

Tastes In Time

Something fishy ’bout this

Halkakas
Quick eat to café atmosphere
The place offers promise from without, a café style interior on entering, and fish on the menu. Tucked snugly on a corner along Veres Pálné utca one could almost pass by but and just by chance I was steered there on tripping out the stationery shop door on the opposite side of the street. As I had been lurking the district for some grub and yet was sure a street food burger would just spiritually rape me, the promise of fish spelt miraculous.
So picking a seat and forcing myself to be accepted as legit to the many eyes that looked up from their array of soups and other such dishes, I grabbed myself a menu and started to pave my glory.
Good selection of different fish dishes
First off the selection of fish dishes was impressive and while I worked my way through the Hungarian double taking on the “halburger” questioning its spelling, I was intrigued to find fish and chips tucked away in among the rest on offer and not a stand out, stand alone as if to play the signature dish!
I finally settled on the misspelt ‘hal’burger hoping that in fact it wasn’t a type-o and why should it be, it was a fish joint and not a burger of beef gaff. Still to be satiated in times of fussiness can lead to disaster so I grabbed myself a Foti Pils* to sip on while bracing myself for what was to come.
A fish burger I ordered and a fish burger I got, most flavorful, most delicious. The juices that flowed didn’t sog the burger buns but did leave me wishing to mop it up off the plate. Still being as full as I was that might have been unadvisable. The chips accompanying it were pre-salted and while this usually yields a common quib of mine this time I had no complaints. The potatoes were cut well and were proportionately tasty, something I never say!

*Fóti Sörfőzde

Prices match quality and in down town
What often gets my goat is the nonsense pricing that comes with difference and/or quality and whereas 2000huf may not be cheap in some people’s books, for what I ate and where I ate it, downtown, I would say it was on the balance a great deal. That I didn’t even need to eat again to any degree for the rest of the day (I ate here at around noon) is testimony to the depth of this good feed. Other fast food places may claim half the price but most have none of the quality, you can be damned sure.
The Others
As I was there I noticed a regular flow of what I’d describe as the young business folk lunching from small offices around so it never feels like brokersville, but from a business point of view very sustainable.
Friendly helpful patient staff
It’s counter service so tracking a menu was a flamboyant affair, me being flustered by the street and a clock that was running, but sitting and acquiring said menu, skipping past the temptation of ye olde fish N’s chips, jumping to the counter to order, doubling back twice, once for my wallet, another time for a peek at the beer menu, I never felt I, nor the girl serving were under any pressure. Her calm was infectious, perhaps. Could have used that when I was working in a bar. The guy who served up the plate, the chef or the cook, engaged professionally, being a busy man he still nodded acknowledgement, and listened without foothopping to my compliments as I was leaving.
Amen

© TheHairyTeacher2017

Steampunk

Steampunk

Just recently I read an article about a little town in New Zealand which has become a Mecca for all Steampunk fans but it happened past my memory even after I’d flirted with sending the link to a Kiwi friend of mine (In circles he’s known rather as the Doc, or Doc Ock, but don’t ever call him Candy: Unless of course you’re a 6’8″ rugby player who looks like he eats nails for breakfast. Then you can say whatever you want).

Well, when you don’t believe in coincidences all you’re left with is destiny and here I am in Krak’NTown on József körút in downtown Budapest, itself a saloon dedicated to the whole Steampunk style. From the waiters to the walls it’s captured the general vibe and based upon some of the other guests it would seem like this place has the tourist draw based upon this very Steampunk premise. Little do we know till we explore.

PS: Beyond a modest selection of craft beers they also serve food and what I noticed as significant was that a vast majority of the food had an Isles incline with Cheddar cheese soup, Toad in a Hole for breakfast, Yorkshire pudding, black pudding, as well as the ever adventurous, Haggis! There is also an Irish red beer and stout, the latter I’d hoped for but the pipes were being cleaned. In the end I settled for an IPA and dealt with the Cheddar soup in company. A light lunch, a great experience.

 

©TheHairyTeacher2016

Tina Turner’s

The night before my birthday, my fortieth, and I hit Tina Turner’s…it used to be called Anya’s but that half-Greek fantasy set sail down towards the ninth district, somewhere around Mester utca, a long time ago. The soap I bought, a dried up reminder of a notion I once had.
The whole place is infested with memory and even my darkest hour, not worth mentioning, being part of the fabric of this place provokes a Dichotomy, an idea of improvement based upon a previous moral digression, thoroughly equated therefore by its having occurred within the confines of this place.
It was always an awkward place, often ruled by boredom, fatigue, drunkeness, and paranoia. It, however, served well as a last resort. It never closes, you see,”… and that has made all the difference…”
I sometimes long for this place in the blur that is pre- fatherhood memory, but in truth, a moment like this, actually living the memories, is the closest anybody can get to all things past. Sometimes it’s worth coming back for the trip – the reality of what was left behind, suitably soft, a drawing smudged to suit a tolerable indifference.
The corner in one of the upstairs booths, was my workbench of occasion, though never to the extent of B City and the Soproni place, now Cheerio – then nameless (at least to me), and yet Tina’s, ahem…Anya’s (like the stalwart calling Snickers Marathon), provided some of the material for my future. Here dreams were shattered, rebuilt, born yet before, and after. Time bent here… as these words may take me back, they may in time propel me forward, or at least be read again in a time not yet recorded. For now I just create them in the hope that someone, maybe even me, can read them in a future!

What’s in when going out?

What’s in when going out?

 

If you mention Móricz Zsigmond körtér it often evokes a feeling of nostalgia, and this for a place I have but a recent memory of. I’ve thought and taught here and drunk but a bit and yet I feel it’s somewhere I’ve been before, a place of greater memories, even if it isn’t.
There is a certain atmosphere in the area what with the tram rushing through as well as the 6 and 61 finishing up here. The schools, bookshops, fastfood places, all a step off make it a vibrant hub and now with development of the Metro 4 complete this area has come into its own. It owns the night scene Buda side, even if Lövõház is challenging to the north, and with the restaurants, bars, and general nuisances fanning out in all directions from the square, it’s certainly a pin to put in your google, or mental, map. Bartók Béla út, which dissects the square, is the main source of attraction and distraction with Szatyor, Nevada Pub*, Moha*, to name but a few offering up in terms of not only food and drink but other forms of spiritual nourishment. Nevada with its Cowboyish Wild West look, swinging doors to boot, has live music from the middle of the stairs on your way up: a live set-up in such a confined space?…interesting! (Sometimes a DJ may take over.) Booking a table is almost a prerequisite especially if you’re a group, or come looking for the perfect seat. The winter sees activities contained indoors while the sun shine draws forth a smattering of chairs making it a perfect beer and leer environment, even if your lungs and ears have to compete with the slight inconvenience of pollution from the ever busy Bártok Béla út…
Szatyor across the street has a sprawling ground floor with tables all ariot, while upstairs the seating is shared with a space for performances, exhibitions, and all the rest. As with Nevada it can get tricky to find seating around the weekend so be warned.
Whereas Nevada is a pub with grub on offer, Szatyor is a cafe with its own culinary aspirations. An offer of garlic soup followed by a Lángos was one of the lunchtime treats when I was visiting , and I tried it (poor students that afternoon), so while many may judge that as its downfall, it was most certainly for me its selling point. Like Nevada service in Szatyor never breeches the barrier between polite and friendly with smiles being somewhat a rare commodity.Maybe it’s the pressure, maybe it’s me, but especially in Szatyor’s case it seemed to be a little off-putting.
Another place worth mentioning is Moha which can be found farther down the street towards Gellért tér, and which is also inclined to entertainment beyond the food and drink on offer. As a place for breakfast it works, with ham and eggs amongst the choices, and there is an atmosphere which suggests something greater bubbling just beneath the surface. The grand piano in the corner may have something to do with it; my interest peaked. Of all the places I’ve mentioned it is the one place which I have not had the chance to sample evening time, so as to what to expect I can only fictionalise. A sign indicating a movie theatre hidden somewhere out of the morning’s grasp leads me to conclude that this place is aspiring to something bigger. As to whether it will achieve this, well, that remains to be seen, or will perhaps remain forever relative, because afterall, what is success? How can it be…blah blah blah.
That there are plenty more places to choose from goes without saying but to a man who has now got two children and too little time, such voyages of exploration are somewhat staggered, at least in comparison with what has gone before. These days memory must serve in place of accuracy, perhaps, and so I leave you to ponder and, if you wish, to contradict my words, for afterall, and in the end, there is no right nor wrong, just subjective truths:)

http://szatyorbar.blog.hu/
https://www.facebook.com/MohaCafe?fref=ts

 

*UPDATE: Since writing this review I have been down that way again and found two changes, not to the locations but to the names.

Nevada is now Osztrák Söröző: https://www.facebook.com/osztrak

 

and Moha is The Rabbit and the Duck bar, with a great logo to boot.

http://rndbar.com/

https://www.facebook.com/rabbitandtheduckbar/info

 

 

©TheHairyTeacher2014

Jurányi

Jurányi

 

 

I missed the opening of an exhibition here recently and frankly if I had turned up and there hadn’t been free wine I may just have thrashed the gaff. Now the drawings were good as far as chalk on wall goes but I wouldn’t call it an exhibition: a drawing exhibited, but not warranting the whole nine yards. Unless there was free wine!

Well, anyway, inside this old school building, well preserved as it is, there is a passageway down beyond the entrance. Turning right and following the coloured lines one will find the gallery, the exhibition area, but more importantly the cafe/bar.

On offer there is a selection of sandwiches (tasting as if unwrapped), cakes – tempting to the sweet-toothed, and the remaining array of drinks you’d expect of any cafe.

Tucked inside the building one does get a feeling, what with hard chairs and checked tiled floors, that this could be canteeny, but being in the heart of an old school that doesn’t sound too shocking. There has been an attempt to brighten things up with the trademark colouring set not only on the corridor floor but on the programs strewn about, almost inconspicuously.

It is clean and there are even a few more comfortable sofas but what makes this place may be the view to the street or the courtyard or the chance to eavesdrop on artists’ conversations, but if like me you can’t speak Hungarian very well the former option is not enough. However, it doesn’t lack in energy replenishment: a lunchtime menu exists with soup, sandwich, salad choices, but for a person who craves atmosphere it is a bit of a let down.

Perhaps it’s the quiet before the storm; a festival event is scheduled for two hours from now. Perhaps it’s Friday. Perhaps it’s the hum of the fridges, the rain starting outside. All factors accounted for I ‘d say this place is a handy option in ‘out of the bustle’ this side of town, when bars and chain cafes aren’t your thing.

It could grow on me as a retreat from the crowd, but for now I must go in search of that very thing.

 

(NB: This was written in April of last year but all criticism is valid until it’s now!!!)

 

©TheHairyTeacher2014

35 Café

Bike themed and youthful the problem with this place is that it doesn’t take itself seriously enough as a business. My entering was greeted by surprise and my order was misheard.
Maybe I’m In a mood and maybe it is functional in a way that would usually serve but today that’s not enough.
After sitting stewing I decided to repeat my request and sure enough the girl had been allowing me the pick of the ziros kenyérs. I shot before asking questions: a trait I hate in others and which I’ve indulged myself just now to hypocritical proportions.
Now hunger tantrums aside let me take another look around. It is a basic spot complete with broken toilet (ladies) at the moment but with booth style seats it surely can be of use. Still in a district with so many alternatives being caught downstairs in the gloom at lunchtime is low on the list. Come nighttime, come difference perhaps but for now best take my word for it, unless like me your curiosity is greater than some random stranger’s opinion.
“Texas and whiskey… funerals”

 

https://www.facebook.com/35CafeSzerviz

 

©TheHairyTeacher2014

 

Hecc

Whether this place turns out to be a joke remains to be seen but for the time being on a grey February morn*, just shy of my next class, it offers respite from all the timetabling and rushing. Whew!
It’s modern enough in feel but cosy enough to be homely. It’s not all sharp edges and minamilism.
Located just across from Erzsebet square with the pending Akvarium reopening promising an exciting and vibrant summer ahead, it could all come down to location location location.
A badly printed flyer brought me here: that and my inability to read. It said 50% off…but on second glance I realise it’s only for alcohol, and while that may be good tidings usually, there is another sting in the tail. All alcohol excluding beer and wine!!! As if there was any other types of alcohol!!! Whiskey, vodka, pálinka…they’re not alcohol. They’re death wishes in a bottle, unless you drink in moderation, but a place like this doesn’t promote a thing like that.
Now if they had 50% off their merely average coffee I’d be much happier. Grey mornings lean on grey moods perhaps. Bahhhh!

 

*A review late coming. Nevertheless on recently passing by the place remains the same, and empty. The newly opened Akvárium and surrounds have stolen any chance at thunder here methinks!!!

 

https://www.facebook.com/Hecc.Cafe

 

©TheHairyTeacher2014

Calgary…a review

Calgary…this is not my first time.
Herein seduced by the piano
Now all atumble with bits and bobs
But isn’t this whole place?
And so-
I wonder-
If maybe at a twirl, speakeasily,
Everything may be different.
From out of the radio the music spells freedom:
Hungarian, gypsy? –
Inflected with a francophilia.
It sways into a kind of opulence
Before surrendering to the density of the heart
Only to be released by the furious incline
Of a violin, a fiddle,
Turned demented – Chagallian –
Dancing o’er the notions of a childish nightmare.
And then a kind of swing kicks in –
In defiance of work, or the mundane,
And yet in celebration of life, of love.
And then the beer protests
“No words are more important”
As the hands and mind become distracted.
Again the calls repeat more loudly,
More vociferously
“No words were ever so important”
But the pen moves on
The gas keeps rising
And so the battle has begun
Between the poet and (the) drink
Sober and drunk
And somewhere amidst this selfish incline-
A battle suffused on the shores of otherness –
A hint, a notion, of other things.
A charge, a brigade
In the light they falter fall, but forever rise again.
For unlike men this is family,
For unlike duty this is love,
But for unlike freedom,
This is responsibility.
The thing that tears at each rebel’s heart.

“They would topple a government and so too a family in favour of a freedom that can never be won – a dream, however, that is the fuel of life.”

©TheHairyTeacher2014

Ankerd (Anker revisited)

Now there is a fine line between impatience and over-tolerance and whereas I’m prone to the latter my decision to walk out 25 mins after ordering a bundáskenyér/french toast was certainly not, as far as I was concerned, an undue criticism of Anker (Anker köz ).
The problem with student staffed places is that the attitude can align itself with the service while professionalism falls by the wayside. It takes a good manager to strike the right balance but Anker is just not up to scratch.
Walking out took effort as I was hungry and, mid-morning, running between classes. On an empty stomach I alighted onto the street and while I could have dwelled on my misfortune I chose to steal a silver lining: at least I’d be early for my lesson- no rushing necessary. That I popped into Tesco for a sausage roll and subsequently food poisoning may be utterly unrelated but I smell voodoo, the karma of non- pacificists!

(See previous review: http://thehairyteacher.com/to-pin-it-down/ )

 

©TheHairyTeacher2013

 

No breakfast at Tiffany’s

Below you will find a link to a review on Tiffany’s cafe which was located in the Batthyány tér market hall on the first floor. Be warned: the place no longer exists!!! This oft times can be the trouble with an ever-changing city. Consistency can suffer and while people may argue that the best will survive, in a town, like many others, where money matters, it’s not always a guarantee.

Still with the constant growth comes a re-energising, a certain state of vibrancy which allows a once well-travelled teacher to find a journey on the interior…

http://thehairyteacher.com/breakfast-or-not/

 

©TheHairyTeacher2013

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