Being short of time Bandi and I cannot always do our testing rounds together but landmark steps are always taken by both of us. So, if we chance on a place separately, in the company of other friends, we can hardly wait to go there together just to see each other’s eyes light up with delight on the first bite of hamburger. Visiting Cirmi artisan gastropub gave us this very thrill.
The pub, being on the inner side of Tisza Lajos körút, in the place of the old Katedra restaurant, is located just close enough to downtown to keep prices off sky-rocketing levels and to be within easy reach for working folks and going-out types alike.
Going through the main entrance we arrive at a spacious interior of stylish design, the bar itself, as indicated by the cool neon sign in the background. Old pictures, music sheets and empty frames create a unique and friendly atmosphere - a good example of the decorative power of frames without pictures. Should all this fall short of our expectations, we can still step into the inner room with an even larger seating area and catch a glimpse of a television set surrounded by volcanic fibre and other old timey suitcases. The room is so full of character that I feel the urge to take a seat, but driven by the desire to see everything we make our way straight to the garden instead.
Out there we are met by a lively crowd of customers. The waiting staff are attentive and friendly but not pushy. They are waiting to please you while staying unnoticed. But if they see that you feel like having a chat, they are happy to ask you how you are doing or if you like the food. Timi, a co-owner, also takes an active part in running the business. She is a real catering pro having learned the ins and outs of the business in England. Rumour has it that her partner named their first joint gastropub in Hungary Cirmi after her nickname just to please her. Now, isn’t that romantic?
Our lemonade comes in two stylish jars, and it is so delicious that it would be worth a separate chapter in itself, but I’ll go further and take the risk to say that it is the best in town. In addition, the one-litre variety here costs under a thousand forints whereas most other places charge around six to seven hundred forints for just half a litre. On top of all this, they also offer some of the best quality premium artisan beers of Reketye Brewery.
Our hamburgers take about 10 minutes to reach the table. No, this is not a misprint we could hardly believe our eyes, either. Anyone who has ever made a burger at home knows all too well how hard and painstaking the job can be. The image speaks for itself. (There is a Grabovszky in this picture.)
The Grabovszky, named after the famous mouse agent of Intermouse, ‘attacks’ with cheese of our own choice (smoked blue or Cheddar) and bacon at HUF 1690. I chose Cheddar this time because the other hamburger I had was made with blue, for more details of which see below. The bun was sprinkled with sesame seeds, its consistency and texture excellent, soft and squishy, also the perfect size, which I really appreciated, as it is a common mistake for the buns to be made oversize in proportion to the other ingredients. We were amazed at the sight of the sizeable beef patty weighing 200 grams! Let me make a side remark here: recently we have experienced a regrettable secret downsizing of the earlier portions in some places. Here, however, they assured us that they were not planning to use such cost-reducing strategies in the future either. The meat was cooked medium (this we had made sure in advance, when our orders were taken), ground and spiced to perfection with just a tiny bit of salt and pepper and loads of gravy, and had the distinctive flavour of beef. The patty had an excellent rasher of meaty bacon and melted Cheddar on the top and a vegetable layer of tomato, leaf lettuce and pickled cucumber with home-made roasted paprika mayonnaise sauce at the bottom. This latter may have had some finely chopped cucumber ’smuggled’ in, too.
The other hamburger I ate was a Prince for 1,980 forints. Besides the usual ingredients it also had melted blue cheese and caramelised red onion. The onion marmalade with a slight touch of hot pepper creates a harmony of sweet and sour flavours. The melted blue cheese with chopped herbs gives the burger a pleasant and characteristic flavour.
The burger is served with salad made with extra special garlic- and chilli-based dressing, which reminded Bandi of the tastes of the seaside.
The jacket potatoes are served in polka dot enamel mugs. Not only are they appetizing, but also freshly made and not too oily at all. They are not overspiced, but not tasteless either, each bite leaving a slight touch of peppery hot taste behind.
In conclusion, Cirmi is one of the few places which seem to have all the right ingredients to offer excellent food: friendly service, cosy and inviting interior and exterior, short waiting time and awesome hamburgers. What’s more, each time I went there they happened to be playing music pleasing to my ears (Sade, MR2, Akusztik). This could be the place for me.