I have recently been introduced to the concept of „ruin bars”; I had seen such places before (some made on purpose, others left to decay), but now I know there’s a name for the trend.
A place which quickly became dear to me – and to my husband, it seems - called Plastilina (the Romanian word for modelling clay), probably falls into the category of „ruin bars”. Though I like to believe it is more than just that.
The former barn/ carriage garage (back from when people in Bucharest still used horse - drawn carriages) and the yard of an old house close to the Pache Protopopescu square in the capital hosts this mysterious place.
Why mysterious? Because one can hardly guess what’s inside the terrace, when checking it out from the street. The owners have cleverly hidden the entrance using a wardrobe – you have to go there to understand what I mean – so either you’re inside, or you’re outside, on the street, it’s hard to figure out what’s on the other side. Which works just fine for me.
The 1893 house whose yard hosts Plastilina is located on Olari street at number 8 (Ok, I had to reveal where it is...). Once inside the terrace, one discovers a multitude of elements and corners with their own design, some of which strike at a first sight, while others take time to discover.
The owners have kept this feeling of old – think brick walls, half renovated doors and windows- , mixing and matching items which do not seem to go well together at first, but which create a beautiful amalgam.
The unpretentious space and the little touches which call for small discoveries throughout the whole stay make Plastilina a relaxing place. It stirs a feeling of the known, a place where one could have already been: somebody’s yard, somebody’s living room, somebody’s bathroom (yes, gotta check the bathroom for some nice touches too).
They bring you modelling clay at the table if you ask for it, a jar with used bits and pieces of colored modelling clay that you can play around with. Some of the more creative members of our team took advantage of it, but we won’t tell what the result of the modelling session was (team joke!)
The menu is very unconventional (and low cost, for those interested in the business aspect of it). Hand written, then xeroxed pieces of paper, describing what they sell, and how often those items are usually available. That's honest, I like that.
Sincere statements right from the first page: We don’t serve any Cola, Cuba Libre or Mojito. A place like this has to filter their clientele, indeed. If you’re bothered by their front page menu statement, probably not quite the place for you.
They emphasize on using Romanian, traditional ingredients, and indeed some beverages are quite unexpected. We’ve tried a lot of things already: the zmeurica (traditional Romanian name for raspberry juice with mineral water), some berries, cherries and watermelon smoothies, some beers, and interestingly named sandwiches (Muncitoresc – working class sandwich, Burghez - bourgeois version, Estival – summer sandwich, just to name some of them).
Some things on the menu are sometime missing, but it's ok, somehow this does not upset anyone (as it would probably do in any other place), and some menus have extra sheets with food items on offer. Again, this does not seem to be a problem, and people who are charmed by the place turn into very understanding visitors.
Plastilina sometimes has pop up dinner evenings, with even more food on the menu. They're experimenting things.
The waiter – a young, bearded guy who oozed kindness, he even offered a free cigarette of his own pack to one of our team members – kept explaining what the beverages contained, and kept bringing them to our table. The food is cheap, some drinks not that much, but they’re worth the atmosphere. The tables are hand painted, and somebody was pretty careful with details, which just seem to be thrown here and there, but which are definitely well thought.
Around this unconventional space, old buildings, a church, and new blocks stand tall, and above it, some summer day clouds and some summer night stars can be sometimes seen. It’s quiet – except from some laughter here and there, it feels homey - it even has a dog playing around - and it asks for a comeback.
Plastilina opened mid-May 2014, as a pop-up summer terrace. It is the little sister of Acuarela – another place we’ve been recommended to try out.
Plastilina, 8 Olari St., 0040741 403 238
By Corina Chirileasa, [email protected]
(photos by Andrei Chirileasa for Romania-Insider.com)