Columnist Eleonore af Schaumburg-Lippe writes in her weekly column about life as an expat in Romania. This week she gives some ideas on where to go for something to eat, whether it is a business meeting, catching up with friends, a quick lunch or a cozy dinner.
When going for a business meeting, to meet with friends, or just going for lunch or dinner, the first question is always where we shall meet. So therefore I have made this list of places where I usually go to, when the question is being asked. I have tried to make a list that covers all situations, so you will have some ideas where to go, and of course there are a lot of other places you can go to depending where you live, work and wants to eat, so this shall just been seen as a little culinary trip in Bucharest.
Lunch and day time meetings
For lunch or for a business meeting, I will usually go to one of three places: Malagamba or Van Gogh in Lipscani, or to Restaurant Harbour in Piata Amzei. The only thing is that there is no wireless at Harbour, so it depends on the meeting.
Delicious food at Malagamba – situated in Lipscani – and it is the perfect place for a lunch meeting, the food is always really good, and the dishes are almost all homemade, like the pasta and the vegetables fresh from the market, the kitchen is Italian, and during the day they an ‘Early Bird offer – RON 29 for three dishes, this is indeed a good price, and with internet access, working while having something delicious to eat is possible. It’s also a great spot from which to enjoy the life of Lipscani either indoors or outdoor. Malagamba has a whole page just for vegetarians in the menu, so if you are meeting a herbivore, you can impress them with your thoughtful choice.
Best Vanilla Mango Summer drink in the world at Van Gogh – also in Lipscani, for lunch sitting outside and enjoying the sunshine is lovely, but for a meeting I prefer to sit inside where it is quieter. However, inside and outside has free internet access. What is cozy about Van Gogh is the atmosphere, inside the interior celebrates the Dutch painter Van Gogh, and there is a classic relaxed café ambienece. And then the food and beverages, there are two things I can truly recommend; the Vanilla Mango summer drink, this is just extremely delicious and I don’t know if they would combine well, but they also have this salad called Blue Apple, both of them can make my day. Nam nam (Danish for yum yum).
Best Goose Borsch, that has to be tried at the Harbour – Harbour in Piata Amzei was one of the first restaurants I went to in Bucharest, and it became at a point my favorite lunch and business meeting place. It has a big outdoor terrace, as well as quite a lot of space inside divided into a smoking and non-smoking section. The interior is, unsurprisingly, nautically themed , and they offer a 3 dish menu for RON 20, as I recall. My favorite dish, that they have sadly taken off the menu, but still gladly make for me, is their pasta with tuna and smantana, otherwise their soup Goose Borsch or Bors de gâscă dolofană can really be recommended, it is the best soup I have ever tried in my life. The good thing about Harbour is that it is easier for people who come by car to find a parking place in the area compared with Lipscani.
Going for dinner
When it comes to dinner, there are a lot of options, and below I mention some of my favorite places. A wide range of cuisines are included, these places offer everything from traditional Romanian food, fine dining, meat for the Vikings to healthy food, so almost all taste buds are covered. All placed in different areas of Bucharest, so the tour can begin.
For Romanian traditional food in an unmissable atmosphere, you won’t regret going to Bistro Jaristea – it’s a very special place and it has to be experienced. Bistro Jaristea is a little difficult to describe, but try picturing this – a huge room full of antiques, in the middle is a lady sitting behind a desk usually wearing an extraordinary large hat, food served on a silver plate with flaming fireworks on racks, and when the waiting on staff pass by the lady in the hat, if she doesn’t like the look of the food, she can ring a bell, and they have to take it back and remake it. In the middle of the room is a dance floor and during the evening there will be live music, live cabaret dancing and the lady in the hat will tell stories and read poems, sadly only in Romanian, but there is such a special atmosphere at Bistro Jarista, that it has to be experienced. The food is traditional Romanian food of high quality and studying the menu card is a whole story in itself.
Gourmet dining at Ici et la, the French restaurant – Ici et la is the place for a bona fide gourmet dinner, the chef Philippe Dupre is one of these genius chefs that can make every dish taste like the best you have ever tasted. The presentation of the food combined with each taste is a new world and every ingredient is put together in a way to keep the senses alert. Usually I don’t go for fine dining, because I like to get some food and not just two leaves, but this place offers more than two leaves, and it is such an extraordinary culinary experience that you will dream about the dishes for days.
A tremendous beer selection and the most delicious Moule au Vin at Waterloo the Belgian restaurant – Waterloo was at one point, one of my favorite dinner places, it is a Belgian restaurant, so the food is solid and you will not leave hungry. Besides the food menu, they have a beer menu with more than 100 beers and the waiter will recommend which beer goes well with each dish. I remember eating the best Moules au Vin I have ever tasted in my life there, and also the duck can be recommended. In the evenings you have to book a table, because the place will be packed, the restaurant is not that big, even with the terrace outside in the summertime.
Meat, meat and more meat and really good meat at Osho. There are two kind of Osho restaurants – one for meat and one for fish, I have never tried the fish restaurant, only the meat place and it’s the I would take meat loving Danish Viking friends that appreciate high quality.
Pure luxury in beautiful surroundings sums up – Casa di David. It’s a relatively new place for me and actually I go to the newly opened restaurant to the right of Casa di David, I don’t know the exact name of the restaurant, but apparently the owners are the same and it is a sort of expansion of the place. You can sit outside, under a lot of green trees and view Herastrau Park and look directly at the lake while you enjoy the food, which is simply delicious. Pure luxury, fois gras and other delicacies that will melt on your tongue.
For healthy and nutritious food in an anti stress bohemian paradise go to Satya – This restaurant is perfect if you want to eat food that is good for you and your well-being. The restaurant is in an old villa with a terrace outside; go there on the weekend to de-stress and relax body and mind, while dining in this bohemian environment, decorated with Buddhas, stones like amethyst and rose quartz, and where the scent of essential oils wafts through the air adding to the zen ambiance.
So pofta buna as they say in Romanian, I hope I have encouraged you to go out and savor the culinary tour that Bucharest can offer, enjoy!
By Eleonore af Schaumburg-Lippe, columnist
Eleonore is Danish, she holds a BA in Organization and Management and specializes in Corporate Communication & Strategic Development. She is also a Market Economist and a Multimedia Designer. She is currently working in Bucharest as the Executive Director of UAPR the Romanian Advertising Association. As a Danish Viking in Romania, with a great passion for ’covrigi’, she has a burning desire to find out more about Romania especially Bucharest, and enlighten the small differences in the culture between Denmark and Romania.. Her weekly columns will give you insights into an expats life in Bucharest written with humor and a big Danish smile.