Let’s start with the end: how do you celebrate the second birthday of Doblo?
We thought we’d go with a quiet birthday. We give a glass of champagne for a Happy Birthday greeting. There are so many things going on nowadays that we didn’t want to force a birthday party. We have already had some champagne with our regulars who are also among our Facebook followers.
What’s with the so many things going on?
We are planning some sport in Doblo. Well, not pool or indoor football, only TV-broadcasts. We never thought about doing such a thing before but our guests miss it. We’re trying to connect wine with sport, and thus prove that wine loving does not exclude love for sports and the latter doesn’t mean that you are a person of cheap run-down pubs. And soon we’re kicking off our gold- and silver card program.
What would that be?
Gold card owners will be informed about our various events earlier than others. They’re going to get a monthly newsletter, which could hypothetically contain that there’s going to be a Champions League final, in which case they can reserve a table well in advance. Or they might as well rent the whole place. The card owners will also get some discounts.
All these target the current customers. How do you call out to those who don’t yet know Doblo (well enough)?
For example, “Bring your mother!” is the next happening on the first Sunday of May. We regularly have different thematic events: Valentine’s Day singles’ party or Women’s Day. Soon we’re going to have a Children’s Day program. We’re also planning to open earlier on weekends and have Sundays with cartoon screenings for kids and brunch. Oh, and there will be kalimotxo (red wine with coke). Yes, I mean it: kalimotxo Doblo-style.
The intersection of Dob (=drum) Street and Holló (=raven) Street: Doblo. I didn’t see any drums in the logo...
Don’t bother looking for it, though the wine glass and the raven both make an appearance. One more thing about the name: we changed it almost a year ago from Doblo Winebar to Doblo Wine & Bar. This gives back our selection better. We have shot cocktails and long drinks beside wines: classics and our own concoctions.
Let’s get back to the main profile. How did you compile the first wine list?
There were 280 types of wine in the first selection, which was absolutely impossible to handle. Today we have about 100–120 types, that we keep changing every 2 or 3 months. Some we run out of, and some we change. Selection is crucial. The wine list itself also gets old. We keep checking out new wines and looking for the best deals and the rarities.
What category do they belong to?
We have craftsman wines, that you can’t get your hands on anywhere. A couple hundred bottles are all that exist of them. We also order from vintners who weren’t so well-known a long time ago but have since made a name for themselves and they are mentioned as “well, Szeleshát can be found in Bortársaság!”. It’s true, all right, but we had them earlier. We have such wholesaler partners, as well, who ship to Tesco too but we wouldn’t even notice them there, though they’re make high-quality wines.
Have you been criticized for not employing professional sommeliers? Why did you choose this path?
Because I don’t want to employ talking wine encyclopedias but a kind and sophisticated staff, that work for the guests, who are cheerful, enthusiastic and smiling all the time. Of course, we keep training them. Everything can be learnt, but attitude has more to it.
Have you always worked in the hospitality industry?
That and photo and design simultaneously. I was an Arts and Technology major.
Is the interior design your work?
Yes, I designed it and I directed its implementation, too.
As far as I know, the lights, though, are not your work, are they?
They are my wife’s, Mária Fatér (Mlamp). There are some ancient pieces. For instance, that one over there, with the lemon, is an emblematic one. When we move it somewhere, the customers always ask shocked, whether it was sold or broken.
Where do you get the food from and how do you get in touch with your producers from the country?
Nothing is grown in Budapest. We have to experiment a lot, we’ve changed our suppliers many times over the years. We usually try out the recommended producers and see how they fare. There are open days, when you can get to know new items (wines, too), and you can taste and choose anything to your liking.
Do you have a favorite?
Our cheese supplier is fantastic. We created a cheese together with a cheese manufacture from the Great Plains, that is made exclusively for us and we’ve been getting the same quality since. By the way, this is something hard: keeping to your standards. Another of our partners is, for example, Aranyszarvas, a company making mainly foods with truffle. My current favorite is a novelty, a hot sandwich with smoked breast of goose, that you can dip in jam made of balsamic vinegar and truffle.
How much do people eat at a wine bar?
A lot. They ate a lot this year. We have some dishes that sell very well, some that are copied elsewhere. It doesn’t matter.
Talk about the two faces of Doblo. What’s it like at day and at night?
At day it’s more relaxed. We also operate as an alternative office: from 8 AM to 3 PM we offer a breakfast menu containing cereals, scrambled eggs Doblo style and some other filling delicacies that would work as lunch, too. Our reform selection has gotten broader, as well: soy drink, cane sugar and the like. We have a strong wifi, too. There are even press conferences and other events held at us at day. At night, it’s wine bar time.
Don’t you feel bad about the rapid spreading of wine bars in Budapest?
I’m happy about it! I feel it’s a real loss that two had to close recently. It’s a shame that it’s not the case that there are 8-10 unique and special wine bars. Instead many places just copy other places and it’s all too homogenous. I’d rather they came up with individual ideas.
Where do you drink if not here?
Here. Really. And Boutiq, at times. Also, I really love hotel lobby bars. It comes with age, you know, as you grow older. I don’t go to big parties with crowded cheering crowds any more. I prefer drinking good quality drinks in a relaxed atmosphere among bartenders speaking more languages.
Your favorite wine?
It changes. Now it’s Cabernet Franc. There are times when I don’t even want to drink any wine at all. You can’t have fried chicken every day, now, can you?
What are your further plans?
We plan on opening another venue nearby. It will concentrate on food and even the pastries will be made on site.
Would you also like to taste the Hello Tourist! wine selection by Doblo? Just like our article and comment the answer to the following question below: Where did Doblo Wine & Bar get its name from? The 5-person 5-item pack contains: Irsai Olivér, Rosé, Blaufränkisch, Bull’s Blood of Eger, Tokaj Cuvée and 2 big cheese sandwiches per person. Answer the question until the midnight of 6 May.