Tag Archives: wine

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:)



*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.







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!!!





And why not…

Questions, questions!

Who needs answers?

Who needs clarity

in the everflux?

Why do we search for guarantees,

and yet accept our evolution?

Shall we sometime reach a point

that will please us all no end?

Not if we are to remain, I say!

Not at all, unless we die…


Back for Seconds (Cafe 5 revisited)

Cafe Five, Kolossy tér, lunchtime.
A busy affair.
They mean business.
And these days even early evenings have their appeal.
Landing this side of town it’s definitely a recommendation.
Friendly staff, who speak English, and a bevy of buses, a tram line running by the window, and the urban railway (HÉV) a two minute walk away, makes this is not only comfortable but convenient.


(As for starters: http://thehairyteacher.com/cafe5/ )


All things culinary (Culinaris)

An English breakfast sounded tempting and at half the price of the expat pubs I wasn’t expecting miracles, though hoping nonetheless.
Up till that point Culinaris was a chance to buy good or “rarely found in Hungary” food at a price that would leave you feeling like after a date in prison.
My first encounter had been through winning a 10000huf prize in a sudoku competition, back when ten was still considered money, but recently I hadn’t dared. Imagine if I saw something at a price I couldn’t afford. Well I’d probably have found a pub nearby and drank my wishes away.
This time I was determined and yet not surprised when a very big plate, or very small portion, arrived.
A ramekin full of baked beans. Perhaps better than the alternative bed of beans that one gets back home, the other home.
A rasher in the full, not streaky, sense.
A fried egg ; and the pièce de résistance, the sausage. A skinny affair if all be told but definitely a tasty morsel, unlike another expat haunt I could mention where you’d be waiting for Godot for a decent breakfast sausage.
A few cuts off a baguette dropped almost haphazardly off to one side finished off the presentation.
What had I been expecting and yet getting two for a price still less than the expat pubs meant it was a comparably good deal, if boxing to that weight division. I wasn’t so it’s doubtful that I’ll be running back, but as the only Culinaris I know that offers the cafe to the side, it’s definitely somebody’s cup of tea.


A taste of Italy

A taste of Italy

A lunchtime menu attracted me to this place seeing as its reputation precedes it in terms of price. And yes, while the main courses begin in the high 2000s and soar it’s the drink that’ll catch you. The only red in glass is a generous 650huf per “deci” (100ml/10cl) while the water is even pricier. Still, prepared for that, I wanted to enjoy this. Then what of it?

The place is pristine and service implied. The only fault early on was a horrible buzzing made by the air-conditioning. It was turned off on request, if somewhat reluctantly. Silver trays serve as place mats and the whole thing is too Upstairs-Downstairs (or Downton Abbey) for my liking. The cutlery is set up with the intention of being worked through, and the serviettes are folded and propped. Not a place I’d bring my daughter – the bull in the china shop image prevails, though the rebel heart would almost delight.

I imagine regaling her future husband with what may, or may not, be an embarrassing story. If she’s truly my daughter she wouldn’t bat an eyelid. Beneath her such finery would be, but not beneath me it would seem.

The waiter was a friendly chap, verging on a professional courtesy, but he engaged, held eye-contact, and played his part unobtrusively. He knew we were there for the menu!

Coming then to the food. On first impressions I saw only average – presentation aside – and in taste I felt that while competitive, it wasn’t high end as the prices would suggest. Okay so I had the menu of minestrone soup, a main course with pork, fried potatoes, and a ragu sauce, which could explain the simplicity, but my partner’s pasta, while certainly tasty, was only that. In fact it was the sauce that saved it. Maybe we were expecting too much, but it seemed overly simple considering the prices. That the ingredients are fresh is a given – this is the stronger selling point, I imagine, and on this note I’d have to conclude that overall it was worth the experience.

Nevertheless I do, with bias, think Andi could have made as good, if not a better, job at home. And perhaps this is not really a criticism as it is in Italian culture to love home-cooking anyway.

Finally, dessert was a caramel cream pudding with an alcohol twist. Tasty but the chocolate sauce was too buttery. Ahh, what the heck! A good destination for the menu but if intent on good Italian food in the city I suspect there could be better.





Go there, visit it, and see for yourself. For me it is a somewhere in the middle of a nowhere. Kolossy tér, you see, I’m not a fan of, and though there are things which will always tempt me when in the environs, I will never, and could never, recommend this area as an outright party place. Kolossy tér, I mean. It’s all very fabricated…check out Symbol up the street, that raw, mafia-esque, bling bling appeal, type of place, indicative of the decadence as resides within the remnants of this post-communist state (Forget the Puskas Pub appeal. Go Pest side and to the heart of the footballer’s club grounds if you want a sense of the authenticity on that front). The farther East you go in Europe the greater the obvious gap between rich and poor. Note, before you react, how I used the word “obvious”. Just because us in, what people here call, the West have found cynical means of concealing it doesn’t pass us off as saints. Being Irish I’m often left dumbfounded by what all continental Europeans deem as the greatness of England, Britain, the United Kingdom. As far as the bloody colonialist history that is a pan-european involvement (Irish included) goes, Britain remains one of the stalwarts at least in its representation, Queens etc, and this is probably what got the hackles up in the Irish press concerning the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. Why other Europeans didn’t seem to take offence…could it be the hankering for the old order?

Jesus, talk about straying from the point! Cafe 5 around Kolossy tér on the Buda side of the city has plenty to offer. It’s a full day cafe, with an alternating lunch menu, a selection of drinks, cocktails, and all, and if I was stuck for a place to sit down in for a while there could be a lot worse. However, in the way of things, if I was looking for atmosphere in the mid-afternoon I would choose any of the Kocsmas nearby, and only then if I had no means of escaping into Pest, or at least away from here. Why? Go and see!



Another Arthur

Pharmacy and Wine Garden
For the cure


“A real bargain…”

“Exceptional value!”

“I don’t want to go back to England.”

“I want to buy a house in North Kerry.”

( Arthur Mayne Pharmacy and Wine Garden, Pembroke St. Cork. 2.45 p.m.)

Situated in an old pharmacy, much of the original display in Arthur Mayne Pharmacy & Wine Garden is still intact. Everything else, everything new, is actually styled to lend to that feel of the original. There has been a bit of money put into the affair and it really lends to the heritage pub feel, ideally from the glass counter at the front, itself sporting cakes as well as Simple cleansing lotion! Beside the counter there is a tall glass cabinet complete with bell jars and ostentatious servings of Lin. Camph. Ammon. (!) from the Cork  Chemical & Drug Ltd. Nothing new there!

Opposite the serving counter in the next section wines are displayed from cooling cabinets, above which an impressive selection are lying horizontal (I later discovered that one can serve oneself from these same ‘machines’). Following on from that, and deeper into the interior there is the more pokey, pub-like quarter, more expected, and this leads onto the back and a door to the smoking area which it shares with the Crane Lane, a revamped and certainly more modern feeling pub.

The fact that this is a wine bar means that this is not your commoner gardener environment. People here make Apple Mac jokes – whatever they are!

Food-wise, there are fancy sandwiches, with feta cheese and basil oil drizzled. Soup is also on offer along with the sweets – scones and croissant, However, this is not ‘cukraszda’ country. And I’m not just referring to Mayne’s, or Cork here. Compared to a confectioner’s shop in downtown Budapest things lie a little more sparse on the ground in Ireland as a whole. Be warned.

The atmosphere in the chemist’s is reminiscient of a pub regardless of its pretensions – i.e. wine – and where the decor is old fashioned, quaint, this will be no better, or worse, a few drinks in. The only distinction is that if you step in for a Beamish you’ll be left squeamish! If you choose the wine, you’ll be fine!! So drink up and become European for a while.

Of course, wine and Cork are not, as may first appear, the oddest of bedfellows as indeed there is a history of import and re-export within the region dating back to the middle ages. It is, however, not the first word that rolls off the average Corkonian’s tongue when asked to name their drink of choice but with people trending away from pub-only tippling to the occasional night in with a bottle, the wine (no longer just plonk) is definitely after finding its feet. Having lived in Spain and France, and now Hungary, I have over the years developed a taste for the fruit of the vine and on the occasion that I am back in Cork and looking for something a little out of the ordinary I know I know a place, Arthur Mayne Pharmacy & Wine Garden on Pembroke street, in the heart of the city.






Viva Cork

St PetersMarket
Too much to review


“Do you want a basket of chips, or something?”

(Bodega Bar, Corn Market Street, Cork. 1:28 p.m.)

Serving us well as it did last summer I’m back, alone, and sitting, waiting for a pint, listening to a blend of music and chatter. It is definitely more a place for the aspiring classes – accents on the verge of posh, and people’s demeanours suggesting similar. If I were to make comparisons with Budapest, The Bodega would be to the trendy pub what the Vicarstown* would be to the kocsmas. One difference I’d like to note is that in Ireland old and young blend better and in more locations, be they trendy or not; the super-pub pre-club atmosphere excepted, which is the same everywhere.

The Bodega, itself, is situated on Corn Market Street but the market itself, now face-lifted – probably from local government coffers – tells a tale that goes back hundreds of years. To Corkonians this area is the Coal Quay, pronounced Kay, or Coal Quay Market, alluding as much to a time when the river would come in as far as here. “The Venice of the North” or so some people say, referring to the many waterways which once riddled this city. They still do, mind you, but all beneath asphalt and concrete.

Set in an old stone building, the high ceilings and fine decoration of The Bodega’s interior may be off-putting but with a fine selection of food as well as drink one must remember that this is not just a pub – it’s a fine food establishment. With barbeques on weekends and a full smoking area this is definitely one of the gems. The walls abound with local artistic talent and though it may be above the pockets of the artistic equivalents in Budapest it is the class in which both countries’ artistic elite flourishes. The patrons come aplenty, but abegging, in the gutter!  I’ve sometimes accused Budapest and Hungary of artistic snobbery, but nevertheless it seems somewhat more affordable than hereabouts. Folk – now that’s a different story.

Sitting here, 1p.m. –ish, there is a healthy lunchtime crowd with 50% of the floor’s tables full. For a place with a reputation to higher prices this is quite good, and with the turnover lunchtime a steady flow this is no money losing enterprise. You’d hope!

Evenings and weekends do find this place brimming with revellers because it’s then that it forsakes its eatery for full-on pub/club potential. But again this is evening-till-late so come in afternoon time and you can have the best of both worlds. In the back there is a restaurant area which allows one to recline in the intimacy of an evening romantic meal, if that’s one’s wish.

On the whole a spacious environment full of the clatter and bang of a busy establishment. If I were to imagine a comparison I would say the coffee houses of Vienna and Budapest turn of the 20th century, but with the savoury and beer that gives it its Irish twist.

Lunch menu:

Potato and Leek soup 4.90 euro;

Beef and Mi Daza** stew 10.90euro;

Pan-fried sea bass, crushed baby potatoes, dill and butter 13.50 euro

[Beamish  4.10 euro]




See link below for more on the meaning of ‘Mi Daza’ and other Irish slang words


Keeping it simple

Bridge side bistro
Trip trap across the bridge


Híd Bistro, Margit Híd, Buda Hídfő:

Opened just over 2 years ago I’ve personally witnessed this establishment’s progress from an oasis in a sea of construction to a flourishing business.

Where it lies, at the foot of Margit’s Bridge, Buda side, sets it off from the traffic that daily passes above.

A tram stop nearby means there is always a movement of people and with a generous outdoor area it must be one of the most promising places to settle back between here and there.

A selection of pastas and pizzas are on offer with the Margherita hitting all the marks and if this is anything to go by then the pizza here is most recommendable.

Perfect pizza outside of Italy! Well you could be pushed and pushed in the right direction you could end up here in Budapest, and this is definitely one to behold. Other places offer pizza and most sin on the side of greasy when it comes to the simple Margherita. Also some more local practitioners tend to the Trappista* cheese, which boasts a history but has been lost to the taste of mass production. Here at Híd Bistro there is still Mozzarella, and this has made all the difference.

*Trappista cheese

Margherita Pizza


Back to top