Low risk

The Ole Casino
Not such a gamble

There used to be a Casino here at one time; I know cos I sat on a stone bench opposite one night sipping beer and smoking cigarettes. In fact, I passed it many times when my friend had a flat in the area – the Soho of Budapest, or is it the Westend…Eastend. Now that I think of it, maybe it’s called the Broadway of Budapest. For alliterative purposes at least, this will here apply.

Nowadays it has turned itself into a cafe with the entrance located in the same spot, the windows merely peeled of the tacky white-out employed to allow the casino goers their privacy, or the casino owners theirs! Enough said.

At present the interior is a lot more visible but with its sparse decor it has all the feel of transition, something I didn’t expect from the street. With a mixture of low and high tables, and seating appropriate, everything is rather spacious. A more enterprising – greedy – businessman may have opted for more tables.

On entering, to the left, the short wing, runs four tables in across 2 windows adjacent to the sweet section. Off right the greater length of bar and floor space is set aside. Nestled in the back here is an open area which gives this, coupled with the light fixtures, a back stage feel. This is where the exhibition area is and if this sounds so matter-of-factly, note this.

Almost every bar in Budapest which has any aspirations beyond mere drinking den allots wall space to the greater endeavours in the pursuit of all that is arty. If the arts isn’t your cup of tea don’t be perturbed – the drink tastes the same, and sometimes better. The price impact on the pocket is still much less than in the ex-pat pubs which, in my opinion, do little more than encourage divisions between the locals and the foreigners, except, of course, where express financial status is on display. As an ex-worker in one particular bar I can say that it is odd to see locals with money blending with bousies over on a stag. Perhaps the former imagine this is merely the temperament of the aspirant classes elsewhere. The latter, it is sure, don’t give a _____!

In terms of location this is central and though the real centre is ever elusive as to whether to define it culturally, socially, gastronomically, or otherwise, this is A hub and with that one must note the importance of this cafe come bar come casual food-ery come exhibition spot. On the intersection with Nagymező, with all its splendour, and  Mozsár utca, and Andrassy, the sort-of Champs Elysses of Budapest, in close proximity, this certainly is a contender for the place to be…but the competition is rife.

My advice is to find this spot and let its environs carry you beyond all expectations. A review, a guidebook, will tell you nothing as much as the streets themselves, but where time is of the essence then you would do yourself an injustice if you dared not venture into the heart of the sixth district and even perhaps in here.




Leave a reply

Back to top