You’ve probably read your favourite book more than once, and seen the film. Well, now there is a new restaurant that wants you to find out what it tastes like. KönyvBár (Book Bar) has a menu inspired by a different book each week.
One culinary creation was dreamt up in homage to the adventures in the Hundred Acre wood from Alan Alexander Milne‘s children‘s tale “Winnie-the-Pooh”. Another time, “Fifty Shades of Grey” was brought to the table in the shape of delicious aphrodisiac delicatesses that would even make the mouth of its protagonist, Christian Grey, water.
Caution, please: bookworms might find themselves overwhelmed somewhat just by entering the establishment in District VII’s Dob utca. Bookshelves on every wall are filled over and over: bulky books, thin books, pulp fiction, non-fiction, poetry. Most of them are Hungarian but also some Russian, English or German – there is a little bit of everything to satisfy different tastes.
And you can take them out and start reading. If it wasn’t for the bar and the waiters flying around the place, one might assume to have accidentally strolled into a well-stocked book store.
Difficult to believe, then, that the actual highlight of KönyvBár is not the literary enjoyment but the culinary one.
Once you can tear yourself away from all the big titles on display you become aware of the comfy little seating arrangements that fill the open space between the bookshelves. Once seated the reading of the menu card becomes almost as exciting as an adventure novel, with just a quick glance revealing that the concept here is diversity.
Just like the literary selection, there is a colourful mixture of everything on this menu: Hungarian classics such as Paprikás csirke next to popular items from international cuisine such as the Thai soup Tom kha gai or Mexican corn soup with tortilla chips. The motto seems to be: anything that tastes good, goes.
A second glance at the menu is equally important, revealing that most of the items are more than affordable.
But the highlight of KönyvBár is definitely the weekly changing book menu. Every seven days a new classic or bestseller novel inspires starters, soups, main courses and desserts. Some of the culinary reinterpretations are more obvious than others, which might require a little bit more fantasy.
A recent menu was based on Bret Easton Ellis‘ horror novel “American Psycho”. This story revolving around high-achieving but crazy Wall Street banker Patrick Bateman calls for a lot of serial killer-themed dishes. Little wonder, then, that it comes with a blood-red paprika soup, freshly squeezed blood-orange juice, a Martini-based cocktail infused with “madness“ and one special creation called “The murdered chicken”.
The creative talent behind the KönyvBár concept are Ildikó Béky and her husband Gábor Szalay. For both of them the opening of the restaurant was a long-cherished dream. Already for a few years the couple were active members of the amateur cooking scene and were regular participants at the International Restaurant Days, a worldwide quarterly event that gives everybody – laymen or professional – the opportunity to open a one-day-restaurant in their own living room.
“It was at one of the Restaurant Days that we first tried out the idea of cooking books,” recalls Béky. “It was an instant success.” Soon after, her husband decided to quit his job and, with Béky helping out after her office hours and on the weekend, they opened their very own restaurant.
Everybody talks about KönyvBár
So far KönyvBár cannot complain about lacking media attention. Just a few days after opening up, journalists, attracted by the unusual gastronomical concept, started showing up. Many newspapers and most of Budapest‘s gastro blogs reviewed this amiable, little book restaurant – something that is unusual even in a hip and thriving area such as District VII.
KönyvBár deserves the attention. It offers the comforting and inspiring atmosphere of a library reading room, a friendly staff who are always open for a chat, and a menu that instead of following pretentious food trends from the high-end sector of gastronomy relies on simple, popular dishes that most people like.
Dob utca 45, District VII
Open: Monday to Wednesday 11.30am-midnight, Thursday to Saturday 11.30am-1am,
Phone: (+36) 20 922-7027
Starters and soups: HUF 590-950
Main courses: HUF 1,590-3,590
Desserts: HUF 690-890