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nightlife

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Sexy little Bestia is now open by the Basilica

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  • Pákozdi Nóra

29/05/2015 2.00am

There are plenty of street-food places around Budapest’s Basilica, and there is even a Michelin-starred restaurant in the area, yet sometimes we still feel clueless when it comes to choosing a place to go for lunch or dinner in that part of central Pest. Then came Bestia, with an understated appearance but a very specific concept. We ate and drank at Bestia, and now we want to go back.

We arrived at Bestia (“Beast” in Hungarian) at lunchtime, where instead of hearing the advertising slogan of our favorite music-streaming app or the “top hits” of commercial radio, we were welcomed with the tunes of Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. Plus one point. The interior, designed by Ákos Bara, evokes the atmosphere of industrial clubs and bars that are rather trendy nowadays, but both the music (and, as it turned out, the flavors) are inspired by American culture. This is no coincidence, as Bestia has a strong overseas influence, thanks to the creator of the whole concept, Rozina Wossala – an accomplished young maven of Budapest’s gastro scene. American flavors, moods, lights, and feelings inspired her.

Photo: Balkányi László - We Love Budapest

Renovation work began in the location of a former bank branch months ago, and this month they can finally showcase the professional kitchen technology and concept that they have been working on for so long. We write it down timidly, but all things considered, Bestia is a pub, where in addition to Hungarian craft beers and special international beers, the focus is on meaty dishes much larger than average bistro portions. Also, the music fills a serious gap, as it represents an audio style that the nightlife of Budapest is currently lacking.

Photo: Balkányi László - We Love Budapest

The atmosphere of a real blues venue can fascinate everyone, even young folks accustomed to electronic music. Today, there are only a few places in the capital where the rockabilly-blues sound is strong, with live shows and excellent musicians. Since we came for lunch, we unfortunately could not experience what it is like when “the beast breaks loose”, but we were rather intrigued by how there is live music in Bestia, every night from Monday to Sunday.

Photo: Balkányi László - We Love Budapest

The tables are decorated with plain and black-colored placemats and menus designed by Gáspár Bonta. The lineup of beers is rather promising, as well: there are 11 types of Hungarian craft beers on tap (including Rizmajer, Csupor, Élesztő, and Horizont beers) and nine bottled varieties. To this, add 12 types of beers from all around the world, including special types such as BrewDog’s Russian Imperial or Labi’s la Rossa.The menu is not finalized yet, but the kitchen, led by Attila Tóth and László Moór, is already more than promising. The flavors are not finicky either; there is no “fitness” or “healthy” hashtag here, but sexy, juicy, salty, crunchy, crumbly meats straight from the Josper grill or rotisserie. We tasted the half Cajun chicken (1,600 forints) with rosemary-flavored baked potatoes (450 forints), and surprisingly spicy broccoli with chili and bacon (650 forints). The roast-beef sandwich dubbed “bestrami” (1,650 forints) is made with rye bread, cheese, and red onion, and is thoroughly buttered before roasting, making it extra silky. It is a multi-napkin story; expect it to be a juicy adventure. For those who would like to enjoy a lighter meal, we recommend the salad with popcorn vinaigrette (790 forints), because the vinaigrette made in the thermomixer takes the otherwise simple dressing to a whole new level. On Sundays, we can also try a “hangover brunch”, with soothing beer and sausage.All in all, we had a rock ’n’ roll lunch at Bestia, and cannot wait until we can experience the nighttime face of this tasteful “pub” next to the Basilica.

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