The Zengő Bár has just opened behind the Palace Quarter on Krúdy Gyula utca, with an authentic cellar, a small terrace, wines from lesser-known producers and, coming soon, cultural events.
Budapest is quickly awakening from its shutdown slumber with a surprising array of new openings. These include the Zengő Bár, dreamed up by three young men from Szeged. One was involved in several wine places, before hooking his wagon to the wine trade – his love of wine stems from hands-on experience.
The name is no coincidence either – Zengő is both a variety of Hungarian white grape (a cross between the traditional domestic type and the French Bouvier) but equally reflects the cultural mission of the new bar. A series of events, Cult In Glass, combining gastronomy and culture, and has been running successfully for three years, will be taken up by the Zengő Bár team here in Budapest.
The back room is suitable for gatherings of under 100, the stage carved out by the guys with their own hands. Book presentations, exhibitions and music performances should all take place – today, Friday, 19 June, the season starts with an acoustic concert by singer/guitarist Nóra Kaczander.
Entering the vaulted cellar, you feel as if God had wanted this place to be wine bar, but the spirits intervened – the range of shorts is really quite impressive, curiosities such as Lagavulin single malt, Taiwanese Kavalan whisky, Diplomático rum and Bulleit bourbon. There are three types of handcrafted beer on tap from the BAZ brewery in Tokaj, while other Hungarian artisanal brews by the bottle include FIRST, Kapucinus, Mad Scientist and Ugar.
Nonetheless, the sight of wine bottles lined along the walls is an eloquent one, and wine-loving, wine-savvy visitors will find their mark. They have 250 types available, of which 23 come by the glass – no coincidence, as they aimed to cover all 22 wine regions. They couldn’t carry out this concept to the letter, because it was inevitable that more than one unmissable winery from a key region, Tokaj, say, Eger or Balaton, wouldn’t sneak in there more than once.
The Zengő educative mission extends beyond the big, surefire brands popular at most Budapest wine bars – smaller wineries are brought to the fore, those perhaps not so familiar to the average consumer. There’s Gyula Orosz’s winery in Etyek, the Benedek winery in the Mátra and Eifert from Kunság, whose rosé is a curiosity, as well as the rarer Néró (also a table grape). As for the Torma winery from Eger, we sampled their very Zengő variety when we visited. Wine tastings will also be included in the events agenda in due course, introducing exceptional labels to the public.
A safe is being built for Ákos Kamocsay's museum-piece bottles, which were resting in a cellar under a thick layer of dust until a few weeks ago. Kamocsay made wines on an experimental basis for a long time; none of the 24 bottles originates from this century and the oldest is from 1994.
You can also have a snack with the drinks, and the guys have also strived for higher quality in the food. If you can’t find what you’re after amid the cheeses, spreads and meat platters, the mixed antipasti (3,990 HUF) should be a good solution, where you can sample everything, including 12-month air-dried Hungarian mangalica ham, Spanish chorizo, horseradish-and-pork knuckle spread, Hungarian chanterelle mushrooms in red wine, trappista cheese from Torock, French noble mould cheese and goats’ cream cheese from Holland.
District VIII. Krúdy Gyula utca 6
Open: Tue-Sat 3pm-10pm