Week 63 : Szimpla Bar (Hungary)

Szimpla Bar on the corner of Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain is certainly not a new visit for us as we have been coming to this bar since we first came Berlin together on holiday in 2012. Back then I immediately recognised it as being the sister bar of the highly successful original ruin pub over in Budapest where the brand now boasts a music label, a farmer’s market, a design shop, a bike shop, a theatre and a bakery alongside many other enterprises. In Berlin there is also a club called Szimpla Badehaus which hosts club nights and international musicians playing different styles of so called ‘world music’ from jazz to klezmer to cumbia to hip-hop and a whole lot more. This is quite the empire for a bar which first opened its doors in 2002 as a secret garden in a soon to be demolished secession era apartment building in Budapest’s Jewish quarter. Now Szimpla is the figurehead for an entire scene in Budapest with similar bars popping up all across the city over the last decade. We visit regularly because of their excellent selection of craft beer from Hungary and Eastern Europe but our visit on Saturday 27th February was however the first time we have eaten there.

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The menu is breakfast heavy but has a few Hungarian dishes available in the daytime and evenings as well as a range of sweet and savory strudels. Recently they have added ten beer taps to the bar with different craft beer from Germany and Eastern Europe. On our visit no strudels were available so we made do with pörkölt (ghoulash) and lecsó (ragout) served with tarhonya which are are sort of small, ball-shaped, eggless pasta. We also asked to try the Körözött (cheese dip) and aubergine creme on the side, and took two of the delicious pogácsa scones from the bar counter. As for the drinks, we tried a lot!

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We certainly won’t be rushing back for the food alone although we will no doubt be back again for the laid back atmopshere and eight keg taps of craft beer. The meal was okay, tasty enough with a few highlights including the moist pogácsa scones and the moorish, salty Körözött which there wasn’t enough of. The stews themselves were just a bit bland and boring and I reckon I could do much better at home. The homemade pasta noodles were new to me and were fairly enjoyable on a comfort food level although I left half of mine because of the amount of calories in carbohydrates.  I have eaten this type of food in Hungary a few times and it certainly was authentic. Hungarian cuisine itself is nothing to write home about but the gastronomic food scene in Budapest is phenomenal and well worth visiting for.  We will be doing so on 30th March and I can’t wait!

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