I had the chance to talk to Róbert Rostés, gastroblogger, manager of the bistro in Rehab Budapest. The place has become very popular latery as the complex offers everything a modern man needs; good clothing, a good haircut and delicious food. However, the bistro is not only for the guys.
- Many refer to Rehab as „the perfect man cave” and the services of the barber and clothes shop are obviously designed for men. But is the bistro unisex in the sense that women can also find foods and drinks to their tastes?
Yes, of course. It is not only the men giving good feedbacks on what they did or did not like here, we have many foreign guests. “Manly” drinks are not all we have, but for example we serve Cosmopolitan which is a big favourite of the ladies. Right now the bistro works with a Hungarian menu which I think offers dishes for both men and women. And this is what the foreign guests are looking for nowadays in Budapest, to eat traditional Hungarian food.
- Do you often have women guests?
Yes, we also have guests who come with their partners and while the men are at the barbers the women are waiting in the bistro, eating a dessert.
- The menu is based on famous road-races and two kinds of symbols are used to mark fit and vegetarian dishes. Is it still functioning?
We started with this kind of menu and since then we have changed to the Hungarian one because usually the menu is changing in every three months in a restaurant. We have very few dishes around 14-15 plus the weekly offer. The weekly offer always includes fit food such as seafood, parship soup. Although, our menu is following the Hungarian flavours at the moment, the weekly offer always includes dished for those not eating fish or dairy.
- Was it a conscious decision in the sense that you are also following this healthy and sporty lifestyle or you just want to indulge the followers of these habits?
We would like to appeal people following these diets but it is highly inspired by our colleagues, too. For example one of them is vegetarian, some of them do not eat dairy at all, another one is doing extreme sports, and some bikes a lot. I personally do not really do any sports lately; I invest a lot of my time in the bistro to be great.
- Are there any dishes on the menu which are absolute favourites among the guests?
When we started with the new menu the news of the Goulash soup went around very fast. People really like it, especially at the university opposite the bistro. Many came saying that they want to eat the main course but also want to try Goulash soup so we did many half portions so this is a best seller. Many guests asked whether Túrógombóc (cottage cheese dumplings) is going to stay as it is another favourite and we forwarding these feedbacks to the chef. We are planning to expand our breakfast offer with the new menu; we are trying to move toward the American style breakfast.
- There are many good reviews on the bistro and its kitchen. How did people react when they heard about the opening of a man cave? Is there a huge interest from the beginning?
There was a huge interest, we had a very big opening party; the owner itself has many acquaintances so many people showed up and bringing others with themselves. It is the weekends when we do not need any marketing; people are just lazing around the streets, wanting to have a breakfast and coming in. Obviously there is a team who is responsible for the marketing and working on popularize the place. But for example the other day I saw a group going into the place next to us which is a ruin pub. They head a guide who I talked to and invited him to meet after telling me that they organise craft beer tours. And we have many of them and if he finds the place nice he will bring the guests here. So this is a way to create new marketing opportunities.
- If you had to conclude in one sentence why this bistro is different, why it cannot be said that it is just the 100th hamburger bar of the city, what would you say?
Because of its great mentality filled with vitality and its amazing team who has the knowledge to host the guest in this good atmosphere.
- You started a blog under the name of gastrobertollini and the readers could read your recipes in some issues of Nők Lapja. You wrote in your first post that “cooking is the big love of your life and this is why you chose the art of cooking-baking as your profession”. Was there any determinant moment in your life when you decided that you want to work on this field?
I have always wanted to cook since my childhood. I came from a very big family I had eight siblings therefore so much food has to be made for that many people. I was always there next to my mother, I saw her cooking and I really liked it. I was always there looking, paying attention and eating the raw dough. It has always been the food that brought our family together. So I already decided this in my childhood and when I got to the point of choosing a profession I wanted to apply to a school of trade and catering and I did it successfully.
- Am I right that you have never regretted it, have you?
Not even for a minute.
- The recipes you share here are all experimented by you or are there some well-known dishes you changed based on your taste?
If I have a lot of free time I really like cooking in my head, thinking about what flavours would you combine together, which vegetables, how can you make it a bit more interesting. Cooking calms me down. Sometimes I watch cartoon during cooking, I am almost always barefoot. I learn a lot from others, from what I see. I experiment a lot. I always say that a dish is yours from the moment you make it the way you like it. For example I like it with much basil you like it with less. You want to add some red bell pepper or you want to add some butter. This is how a dish becomes yours and this is how recipes are changing. And this is how sometimes the revolution of a well-known dish happens. I always pay attention to the presentation, the flavours. When one cooks a lot there a point when does not feel like tasting the food while cooking. It happened to me many times that usually my dish was the best when I did not even taste it while prepare it. I am not saying that is the routine, it is when you just think about it and do it and feel it. When you cook with love it is not charge. Just like grocery shopping which must be done to create something awesome. I feel like I cook differently when I do it for someone I love because it packed with so much love.
- Cooking and baking are parts of your everyday life. I was wondering whether you are critical when someone is preparing a dinner for you? Has it ever came to your mind that ’yes, it is nice but I would have done this and that differently”, or you have no thoughts like this when eating some else’s work?
I am not critical at all and I do not share my critique. For example with my partner our taste is so different. When going to a restaurant we would never ever order the same, moreover, we would never taste what the other orders. When I am offered to taste it I say no, thanks, because this is what I ordered and these are the flavours I want to taste. It is nice, but not what I relish. But I never criticise, I always compliment.
- Are there any chefs you look up to or look at his/her work as an inspiration?
I think all chefs appearing on the television are great. Nigella Lawson is very original, she is a real women who presents cooking as an everyday easy habit. Jamie Oliver, who made very great items out of the English kitchen. He re-thought English dishes in a way that those watching him cook want to make it, too.
- Talking of Jamie Oliver, it was great news a few years ago when he successfully reformed the lunch at school in Britain. What do think, would it be feasible in Hungary?
Many do not take it into consideration that good ingredients can be bought cheap. And if those older generation of people who run these school canteens got some help to refresh their knowledge or if there was a possibility to show them some great dishes which can be done in large quantity then there could be a lot to done.
Photos: Facebook.com/ Rehab Budapest