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We Love Budapest:
You’re still wearing the symbolic Tisza shoes of Menza. Yet you’re working for Kadarka now. How come the change?
Árpád Laurenczy: Yeah, the shoes are still on, which means that I said goodbye to the 8-year period I spent at Menza with fond memories, and that at the time I was there on Liszt Ferenc square, and watched as nosy people kept peeking inside the glass window before the opening. Now I’ve been doing the same, only inside the windows of Király street, in anticipation of new challenges.
WLB: What exactly is Kadarka?
ÁL: It’s not a restaurant but a wine tasting bar, and its purpose is for us to talk about wine. It’s a lovely place for lovable people. Also, it’s about civilized wine drinking. We don’t sell commercial, worthless drinks. Just like a friend of mine said jokingly this is a “luxury pub”.
WLB: So it’ll be a shame to ask for a spritzer?
ÁL: No way, no, we have a separate spritzer menu, it won’t be a shame, no. What I meant by luxury pub is that you can drink wine in a civilized, neat atmosphere, as a part of your social life. At Kadarka it doesn’t matter how huge plasma TV awaits you at home, or if you have a smartphone. I’d rather it was a place for wine tasting and jovial chats.
WLB: Király street is known for the cheap spirits, and wine bars can be found throughout the city. Why did you choose this very site for Kadarka bar, and how will it be different from the others?
ÁL: Indeed, we have to be cautious about setting our prices in Király street, but the choice of the place wasn’t really calculated. It was more like the place found me while I was driving around in search of a parking place day after day. It was a design shop at the time, and I realized how perfect it would be for bar, so when I saw the “for rent” sign, I knew at once I’d do it. Király street is a real dividing line, as more districts meet here. So I want to reach out to the middle-class, since we’re too far from Buda, and we’re too elite for the 7th district public. I believe we’ll be different from other places. First off, the bar’s non-smoking, and its founding concept differs, too.
WLB: What is then the founding concept?
ÁL: We don’t keep 150 different wines because I think that the handling, cooling, and uncorking of such a big stock is not easy. So we offer a simple, easily understandable assortment of wines by well-known Hungarian wineries. I intentionally avoid the word “homemade” because I think that there’s too much tension about it, though what we are planning is kind of like that with family wineries and out-of-the-limelight bottles. We offer ½ dl for tasting, 1 ½ dl, and bottled wines for drinking here or takeaway. We’re going to have 30-40 different items opened. This amount can be handled with ease, and recommending them is also more simple. I don’t want people to muse over the wine menu for hours hesitantly. I’m going to make their choice easier, and the stock will be rotated on a monthly basis, so that we could show more and more wines to our guests.
WLB: What’s your relationship to wines beside being a drinker?ÁL: When I started to work in the hospitality industry, I had the opportunity to enroll some wine tasting courses but I’ve never belonged to the sommelier elite. I’ve always had different views about wine. I think that the concept of sommelier is a bit distorted in Hungary, distorted by sales. A very famous French sommelier taught me the most important thing relating to this. I was told that there are two types of people: there are those who can afford good wines, and those who can appriciate them. The two are not to be confused. I feel the same way about Hungary with a few distorted aspects leading wine drinking astray.WLB: What about food?ÁL: I don’t want a diner, as there are a lot of places where wine drinking is linked to having dinner. At our place you only need to eat if some acid gathers in your mouth after some glasses. The cold buffet is open kitchen style, which is quite a soft spot in Hungary, since everyone thinks of a filthy room full of aproned people, that is not to be shown to the guests. At our place, however, it will be an appealing counter with eggplant cream, cheese platter, or oven baked langos among others.
WLB: What are your plans for the interior?
ÁL: We’re about halfway done but soon everything we ordered will arrive. Since it was a design studio, and surface-treated decorative concrete was sold here, we were in luck, as there was no need to break down the place too much. There will be yellowish bar lamps and colorful chairs, creating a smoother version of elegance. Also, we feel the glass surfaces are too lifeless, but we’ll work on those, too.
WLB: The sticker reading “trial run” is clearly visible on the entrance. What does it mean?
ÁL: It’s very simple really. Everything went smoothly at the local government, so we could get the permissions earlier than we had thought, so I decided to open the place as it is with the current staff.
When we opened the door, we gave the people the opportunity to tell us what they think about the place, what they miss from here or there, to share their thoughts with us, and to shape the place together with us. Of course, we have our own concepts but we’re open to others’. Everybody should come and make themselves at home, making the place a home. Until we finish setting up, we’ll have introductory prices. If these prices work well for us, we’ll leave them as they are. We’ll have an opening party in October. Until then we’re feeling our way around.
WLB: Who are your target audience?
ÁL: Everyone. This is the very purpose of Kadarka bar. With special attention to young people because we want to direct them towards consuming quality drinks instead of drinking red wine with coke, and having fun with a few glasses of quality wine instead of getting drunk in the evening.
WLB: Which is your cheapest wine at the moment?ÁL: Well, you got me there. The cheapest will be bottled wines from family wineries, priced at 1690 HUF. We have, for example, Konyári Chardonnay, Arany Sárfehér, Légli 333, Nyakas Chardonnay for 1990 HUF. These have a fair share of the market. Many who are not wine-lovers but rather believers of “beer, unicum, beer unicum” can be surprised with a good rosé spritzer, and the girls at Menza could be diverted from Pina Colada with raspberry spritzer.WLB: Where did the name Kadarka come from?ÁL: Originally I wanted to call the place “Demizson”, but unfortunately there’s a restaurant with this name in Budapest, so it was changed to Kadarka. I love this type of grapes, and it fits the place perfectly because this type is simple but very typical of Hungary. Also, it’s very sensitive but we deal with it. Kadarka throws its leaves to and fro but if you take good care of it, miracles could happen. I think we’ll have many problems with the bar in the beginning, as we try to get people to understand what we are, but we will prevail.
- Favorite wine: it changes weekly
- Favorite food: stuffed peppers with tomato sauce
- Favorite scene in Budapest:
- Favorite music: smooth jazz