If you’re looking to get into the spirit of the city’s 2024 Olympic bid, then there simply is no better place to get started than at OlimpiCafé, nestled neatly alongside the Danube and next to Budapest’s illustrious Corvinus University.
Co-founded by three-time Olympic gold medalist Zoltán Szécsi – former goaltender for the Hungarian water polo team – this isn’t your ordinary sports pub. The facility offers more than just standard sports pub fare of burgers and beer, free wifi and television screens showing your favourite sporting event. Its location in Budapest’s newly renovated Bálna Centre allows the venue to host art exhibitions, business meetings and even press conferences. In fact, when the Hungarian Water Polo Association announced its newest sponsor, you can guess where the announcement was made.
Hip terrace on the Danube’s shores
Conveniently located just a few metres from Fővám tér metro stop, the café’s 140-square-metre terrace overlooks the Danube and the riverside promenade, affording restaurant-goers the opportunity to admire as much what’s coming down the river as who is sauntering down the path.
While the sightlines will entice you to sit down, the café itself offers plenty of reasons to stay. DJs pump house music out of its outdoor stereo system giving the place a club-like atmosphere; regular salsa dance parties are organised on the terrace; and all students receive a 10% discount on showing their cards.
Models were even on hand to deliver free Bailey’s and ice-cream on our visit. The modern, air-conditioned interior offers panoramic views of Buda and Gellért Hill, and makes a refreshing and scenic choice for events both business and pleasure. The relaxed, lounge atmosphere ensures that OlimpiCafé attracts a hip and cosmopolitan crowd.
Western fare with Hungarian flair
But what is a restaurant, really, without its menu? OlimpiCafé offers a short and to the point menu that makes choosing quick and easy. The fare will be familiar to the Western palette, with dishes such as cheeseburgers, quesadillas and chicken caesar salads, but also offers a dash of tasty Hungarian fare, including goulash and barbequed steak with grilled parenica.
In a nice touch, the restaurant has decided against theming their dishes with inane sporting references, although if you really want to get into the 2024 spirit you can try the Olimpi Salad (with strawberries and honey mustard dressing, gorgonzola and smoked duck breast) or the Olimpi Burger (a barbecued bacon cheeseburger with caramelised onions).
While the menu is hardly full-fare, the dishes are delicious and certainly value for money. There are only two desserts, so here’s hoping you or your date enjoy strawberry cheesecake or chocolate orange mousse, but they are at least reasonably priced.
Even the drink menu is succinct – only three beers to choose from (Borsodi, Staropramen or Hoegarden). This allows you to sit back and enjoy the scenery and your company without having to worry about delving through a book of a menu, all the while comfortable in knowing that the chef is preparing a very capable dish.
Relaxed atmosphere right for any crowd
No matter whether you are a business leader looking for a venue for your next meeting, a sports fan looking for a place to catch the game, a tourist looking for a scenic place to grab a bite, or a local looking for a trendy hotspot to hang out, the OlimpiCafé is worth checking out. Students will love the 10% discount, voyeurs will love the people-watching opportunities and sports fans will dig the atmosphere.
Who knows, maybe Mr. Szécsi himself might be on hand to tell you just what he thinks of Budapest’s 2024 Olympic bid.
Bálna, Fővám tér 11-12, District IX
Open: Monday to Sunday 10am-10pm
Reservations: (+36) 70 700-6001
Website and web shop at www.olympicafe.hu
Soup and starters: HUF 850-1890
Main courses: HUF1990-3490
Burgers: HUF 1790-1990
Desserts: HUF 650
Soft drinks: HUF 390-790
Beer: HUF 590-950
Wine and liquor: from HUF 690
10% discount for students