The sun slowly fades as I walk into Ráth György street. This hidden passage near Déli Pályaudvar is where my favorite place in the neighborhood is situated. I reach gate number 4 and I step in through the dark green door. A deep and friendly voice greets me” Szépjónapot Uram!” It is Laci, the heart and soul of Nyitott Műhely, one of the most unique and familiar taverns in Buda.
After entering and walking down three small steps I find myself in a chamber with the warm atmosphere of the living room of an intellectual family from the early 20th century. The walls of the room on the left are covered with books from the floor to the ceiling. Works of great philosophers, dime novels, periodicals, classics from Hemingway to Dostoyevsky, rarities I’ve never heard about, and Hungarian literary magazines can all be found here. In front of the bookshelves there are big, soft, comfortable armchairs and a large, round, dark brown table tempting the guests to sit down with a good cup of coffee(or whatever the guest drinks), lay back and enjoy literature.
On the right, there is a large collection of CDs, LPs, DVDs, and tapes. It is mostly jazz and world music, the two favorite music genres of Laci. He is not just a passionate collector of recordings but also a historian of the life of artists and the circumstances of how their masterpieces were made. He can talk for hours about these things and I’m delighted to listen to him whenever I have time for it. As he enlightens me, right now it is a rare, live version of John Coltrane’s Resolution that fills the air with its gentle harmonies. The music is soft, nobody has to shout, or lean throughout the table to hear what the others say.
At the other side of the room to the right, there is a small stage. Tonight, the By Heart Quartet is going to entertain those who appeared to absorb something new and joyful. They start the show and their modest and quiet smooth jazz soon turns into a cheerful and energetic improvisation, which makes people stand up from their seats and dance. And I didn’t even know there is going to be live music this time.
The program of Műhely is always rich and pleasantly surprising. The musical palette is so colorful and diverse that everyone can find something of his taste. But concerts aren’t the only form of entertainment the tavern can offer. It accommodates film clubs(Hungarian and foreign films) and exhibitions (painting, sculpture, and photography). Discussion forums are held as well, on various topics from certain books and poems to recent political issues or even sexual psychology. There are poem reading nights as well as poem writing nights. There is a knitting club. All in all. there is something for everybody independently from age and gender.
After the concert I get hungry. Today’s there is ratatouille and layered potatoes cooked by Laci, who is the chef as well. I choose ratatouille and some pálinka that he recommends me. “It’s from a friend of mine you know”. There is always a renewing variety of wines and spirits, many of them made by Laci’s friends representing very good quality.
Nyitott Műhely is one of the most colorful places I know. It’s warm atmosphere, the large variety of programs, the fantastic food, and of course the presence of Laci, the friendliest and kindest innkeeper, makes this place a sanctuary of culture and calming entertainment. I sit down with my ratatouille under the yellow light of a shaded lamp and I start to eat. It is as good as always.
By: Máté Müller