Are you in downtown Budapest, eating a fresh salad from ingredients that you selected yourself, drinking an organic coffee with soy milk, and reading an issue of the Conscious Consumers Magazine? Doing all this in a sunny place where the music is good? Welcome to Fruccola!
If you don’t know Fruccola, it is a lovely place on Arany János street, which doesn’t only have green in its logo, but is also the principle of its operation. We can make sure of this before entering, if we look at the stickers located the door. They tell us for example that the restaurant uses environmentally-friendly cleaning products, and has dolphin-safe tuna.
After entering we can see a large fridge filled with baguettes, ciabattas, bocatas and sweets. Above it we can see the menu: they offer breakfast, salads, cakes, sandwiches. There is a daily offer as well (today, a delicious beet soup with orange), with a vegetarian soup, and a frequently gluten-free main dish (usually poultry or fish). One of the place’s main specialties, however, is the salad: from numerous ingredients you can choose what you’d like in it. Every topping costs an extra few hundred forints, which can be a bit discouraging after the first visit – but you can quickly get used to the system. Besides the usual “additives” (tomatoes, cucumber, olives, mozzarella, ruccola, etc.) there are always seasonal toppings: like grated beets and pumpkin during the winter. The meat-eaters can find ingredients as well: chicken (from small Hungarian farms) in a variety of interesting sauces, and tuna, salmon too. The owner, Petra Saás noted that they offered vegetable-based protein sources (such as tofu or seitan) earlier, but the demand for these was little.
The place gets its character from the wood chairs and a brownish tone, and the recycled Campari bottles that function as chandeliers. For local consumers the meal is served on porcelain plates with cutlery, and in glasses that are actually the bottom of wine and water bottles. When you take away, coffee is given in paper cup and food is wrapped in biodegradable boxes – Fruccola was among the first places that started using these in Hungary -; and all this is placed in a paper bag. “Approximately 70% of the packaging materials are biodegradable at present, but we would like to replace all of them to environmentally-friendly in 2012. However, it is still not easy, because they are often more expensive (by up to 2-400%) compared to plastic containers. In addition, there are guests who expressed their displeasure against the biodegradable packaging materials. The present materials are made from corn starch and sugar cane. Even if they appear to be plastic, they are not.” – said Petra. The sugar cane containers are purchased from a company in Edinburgh. Sandwiches are made locally, but the bread is delivered from Spain. We are not proud of the bread’s carbon footprint, but we can better control the amount we use as they are pre-cooked, frozen products. So we throw away much less than we would if a local baker would deliver a fixed amount every day.” The raw materials of salads and other dishes offered are purchased in the wholesale market. The primary standpoint is to buy products from domestic producers if possible. Unfortunately, Hungarian products often not chosen due to the higher price, and the lacks of quality or quantity.
However, the supply list is not over yet: there is 100% Arabica organic coffee and four types of milk. “We offered flavored fair trade tea before, but we changed it to a not fair trade, but better quality tea. The cakes are made from whole wheat flour, with brown sugar, and 70% chocolate in addition. Due to our main profile – making hundreds of juices a day- we do not waste the “left-overs”: the fruit and vegetable puree goes into the cakes as well. In addition, if your name is Fruccola, you can get a free juice.”
The „place” – we don’t know exactly how to call it:. A place for breakfast, lunch or dinner? Coffee bar, sandwich bar, juice bar? Then Petra told us an English name: Fast Casual Restaurant. Opening hours are slightly different from the usual: the restaurant at Arany János Street is open every weekday from 7 to 19, but on the weekends it is closed, the other one at Kristóf Square is open till 20 o’clock, and on Saturday offers brunch (here, there is a playground for children as well). It is a pleasure to know that most of the employees have free evenings and weekends – it makes us feel like money making is not above everything. They tend to make donation – to children’s hospitals and other charitable events – but the development of a donation strategy is among the future plans.
The restaurant is easily accessible by public transport and it seems to be visited by many people: the orange-juice machine is still in operation at half past 5, and fresh sandwiches are prepared at this time. We’ll soon return for some dolphin-friendly tuna and dishes washed up by biodegradable detergents. In the meantime, I’ll try to find out how “Fruccola” could come to my identity card.
WATER: There are “foaming” filters on faucets, thus less water is used.
RECYCLING: At Kristóf Square is starting now, although it has physical obstacles.
COMPOST: Currently it isn’t working. Free compost is not transported; otherwise it would be very expensive to ship. There are no fried foods or French fries, so there is no oil used. The rest of the food residue is transported and will be turned into biogas.
FUTURE: We would like to recycle everything, replace the lightning, and fulfill the remaining 30% of packaging materials, become better and better, and make changes in people’s minds. With a little care, and a little investment, we’ll be there.
The article originally appeared in Hungarian on 20th Jan, 2012.
Thanks Tünde Bene and Zsófi Tóth for the translation!