Friday, 13 January 2017

Nine Budapest bars with dazzling decor pt3: Café Zsivágó

The seductively warm glow of Café Zsivágó
Imagine you are entangled with three different, equally imposing Russian men: a lascivious socialite, a fervent revolutionary, and a soulful doctor (who, obviously, due to his soulfulness, is also a poet). And you look like Julie Christie circa 1965, rocking some serious quivery-lip, fur-coat-and-hat action. Where could you meet all three lovers, sequester each in a different bar area, then spend your evening somehow darting between your different beaus; looking panicked and bewildered, but secretly bloody loving it? The answer, looking like a set from David Lean's classic film, is Café Zsivágó. 

View from the mezzanine

It's not early 20th century Moscow, it's 2017 Budapest. But the cold feels like it could freeze your Bolsheviks, and you welcome stepping into the café's warmth. Glowing chandeliers, flowery wallpaper, Secession furniture and amorous atmosphere. The latter is no joke. Something about the place seems to encourage couples to clinch, not least the mezzanine floor with it's cubbyhole sofas. (I had to wait until the various lovers' had departed to take pictures!)

The balcony of the mezzanine - perfect for a discreet rendezvous.

Daytime there is a teahouse vibe (served in very pretty china), but evening is when the samovar is ditched for the vineyard: there's a short borlap (about five whites, five reds) but they're all quality - and they don't refrigerate the reds. Thankfully, it's far more Czarist opulence than Leninist collective, and it's a perfect refuge for when the snow falls and the Danube freezes over.

Not quite early 20th-century Moscow, but the weather's about right.


  1. Loving the Dr Zhivago references as I had to study the book at school. Fur hat action definitely required as the stylish method of combating ice floe weather!