15 Jul

Save the Earth and Read a Book

I was walking around for several weeks in the 11th district like someone who has just came back from a crazy time travel due to a recently read book called „Ördöggörcs” (Devil’s cramp) from Márton Karinthy. I felt like having a completely new perspective on this district, although I’ve been living here for quite a long time. The streets that were always too busy, too slushy and too boring, all of a sudden revealed fresh colors; I imagined Dezső Kosztolányi (famous Hungarian writer from the late 19th, early 20th century) walking on these streets, when he got off the tram no. 6, also Tibor Déry (also a writer from the same era) whilst visiting Aranka Böhm (another famous writer’s wife) on his way home from Saturday shopping. At the “Hadik Coffee House”, several well-known Hungarian writers and poets, such as Tibor Déry, Milán Füst, Zoltán Somlyó, Zsigmond Móricz, Dezső Kosztolányi and the Karinthys used to have their coffees, debates, reading time – and perhaps sometimes a glass of wine or two. Of course, there were ladies as well: “Aranka (Mrs. Karinthy), the ‘queen with her maids of honour’, Mrs. Erzsébet Guthi Devecseri, Lívia Kondor and Bözsi Klug’. Besides all these famous people, there were also the unknown everyday heroes, who disappeared without a trace during the war, such as “the waiter who – for some strange reason – was called ‘Beautiful Lacajka’ by all the guests.

hadik1

The Hadik Coffee House at Gárdonyi Square had so many different functions during the last decades (it was even a shoe store for a while), after being the meeting place for the Hungarian intellectuals in the 20s. However, in 2010 it opened its door for the lovers of literature, jazz, coffee and culture again. Since the Coffee House is right next to one of the favourite bars of Buda (and owned by the same people), called “Szatyor Bar and Gallery”, we will introduce them both in the same article.

photo_szatyor1

The Hadik-Szatyor couple filled a huge gap in both the day and night life of Buda; it seems that they are only empty when they are closed. No wonder: the waiters c waitresses are nice, the music is great, the creative interior design puts everyone in a pleasantly romantic mood. Plus, I must say, they have the best cosmopolitan cocktail in the whole city! (Attention bartenders of the world! If you’d like to try to convince me that it’s not true, I will happily come and taste some of your creations☺)

photo_szatyor3

 

The menu at Szatyor Bár is just long enough: we can always find something besides the daily lunch menu to cope with any level of hunger we might have. On cold winter days, it’s worth to go and eat a nice bowl of mushroom chowder with potato dumplings. “In order to provide seasonal selection, we change the menu quarterly. We don’t use frozen products. Most of our meals represent Hungarian-type cuisine so we try to buy the basic ingredients from local producers as much as possible.” – said Mr. Tibor Bosznai, founder and art director of the bar.

As a vegetarian it is a little harder to find variety on the menu apart from the pasta based courses and a few dishes in the “Let’s eat something” category. Unfortunately, there are only 3 kinds of salads available both in winter and in summer, and they don’t go much beyond the classic Ceasar salad variety (chicken or tuna). We would expect a more dominant presence of seasonality in the gastronomy that considers the environment as well.

In case you can’t finish your portion, the leftover is packed in a styrofoam box – which is the worse such option -, however, they put that in a bag made of recycled paper. As they told us, currently they don’t plan to switch to more environmentally friendly packaging, although they would consider it as a possibility in the future.

It’s outstanding that there’s a WWF choice on the menu card that shows a significant similarity to the Heroes of Responsible Dining Menu, which was available in a few restaurants in November, 2012. The most important aspect is that these menus are prepared with energy- and water-saving methods, and 10% of the income from these goes to the WWF as a donation. We think that these initiatives are very important, because there’s still a lot to do in Hungary to improve the charity culture and “donation-mood”. When we asked what the motivation is behind offering such a menu, Tibor said that Szatyor has cooperated already with civil organizations earlier on a few occasions such as collection, auction, cash donation and organization of joint events (e.g. Fair Trade, Red Cross, Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Conservation Society, Hungarian Cyclists’ Club, BAM (Bicycle to Work!), etc.). “This kind of support and dissemination was the idea of WWF, and we liked it a lot.”

IMG_7571

 

There are lots of Hungarian products (e.g. “pálinka”, wines, syrups) on the drink menu, although we can find the regular bottled soft drinks, foreign beers and hard liqueurs too. (Yes, I know that without these the cosmo cocktail could not be blended…). But guests can get a glass of tap water any time even without asking for it.

According to Tibor, environmental protection is a critical aspect in their daily operation. “On one hand because we believe that every service provider sector must be up-to-date, on the other hand we often experience that the previous generations did not pay enough attention to environmental issues, so this can cause serious problems nowadays to the whole mankind and ecosystem. We have children, so we would like to find a way out from this negative situation.” At Szatyor,  glass and paper are recycled, the toilet paper and the paper towels are made of recycled paper, and the colleagues in the office are trying to eliminate the use of paper (e.g. two-sided printing). They also use motion detector wherever they can (in the bathrooms, corridors, changing rooms), and on the ceilings they use twilight switches. Besides, they pay attention not to have the lights on when it’s not necessary in the dining area, and they are working on gradually replacing their lightbulbs with energy-saving ones. The water taps are fitted with water-saving heads and the food waste is taken away by a specialized company. “Plus, me and two other owners travel by bike” – said Tibor.

photo_szatyor4

While in Szatyor the interior reminds us of a ruin pub (chairs and tables of different colors, sizes and shapes – each with a different comfort level), in Hadik we find “decent” furnitures which are appropriate for a café, as well as many daily newspapers, cultural magazines, weekly newspapers. They also organize literature events, dance lessons and exhibitions at both places. So anyone can come who is hungry for culture, food and drinks – or is in the mood for donating. But you can even write a novel here.

By the way, people from Pest shouldn’t be disappointed if they can not come over to Buda, because at the beginning of Ráday Street, there is a very similar bar like Szatyor,  called “Púder”, which operates by the same principles, in an environmentally friendly way. But this will be another story…

The article originally appeared in Hungarian on 24st Jan, 2013
Hop-hip hurray to Kati Hall for another awesome translation; and for Juci Zollai for helping!