KáOsZ Drink Station/Italozó (Budapest) – To feel like house guests in a pub
149. stop, 133. Budapest stop
It’s the best to be in pubs where the barman is the manager in one, because it feels like being a house guest there, not only gastronomy guests. To be at János, in KáOsZ (=ChAoS) is like to be house guests as well.
Our story with KáOsZ was started in autumn 2014. On a weekday evening I was walking on the grand boulevard of Budapest with Panni in the dusk and one of us wanted to report about a journey to the other by showing the pictures in a relatively calm place. We decided to enter the first pub we encounter. We were between Nyugati Railway Station and Király street where not so many venues are operating, and that time even fewer than today. So we just peeked into the next small crossing street – Szófia – and faced the still unknown pub, the KáOsZ just two houses away.
Soon we found ourselves not only having a conversation in the original topic, but also about the place were we got, how soon we started to like it with its mood lightning,
homelike furnishing and its friendly, talkative landlord, János. He is not only an operator a barman, a caterer but a real traditional host either. He detects every guest on the radar and talks even to the newcomers in an as attentive, direct and natural tone as he would just invited his colleagues to his to visit him. It is not a surprise, that most of these newcomers soon become recurrents or regulars at his pub. Me and my friends had there at least three birthday party -one of them was a fifty-person event – and a company team building as well. Especially the upper floor is highly suitable to organize this kind of events.
KáOsZ is the longest open place in the smaller neighborhood, especially compared to the backstreets, this is a real privilege. On the way to the party district this could be the entrance and the first stop, and on the way back home – towards the Oktogon – the last temptation.
If you prefer a more intimate pub, which can be interpreted by itself – but such where life neither stops – more than the constant parade of the grand boulevard, then this is your pick. I frequently check from the tram, how big the ChAoS is in Szófia street that time. There are always people sitting or standing at the door and bigger groups aren’t unusual either. The numbers of this guests can be between four and even thirty.
This highly communal and many regular counting pub is very special on the border of the tourist quarter. You can see and meet the same people time to time and even the same dogs.
János brings his guests together. The fact that he is talking to everyone, unwittingly generate conversations between strangers. Once a Finnish gang came in when I was there. One of them studied here with Erasmus before and hasn’t forgotten Budapest, brought his two friends from home here, and in KáOsZ introduced them to the world of pálinka.
With Unicum, I could show something new even to leader of the gang. We talked like for twenty minutes. KáOsZ is also a good place a foreigner to see how the Hungarians exist with each other in a pub. János makes regular costumers even from fresh foreigners and university students in no time without any classy courtesy: – Don’t forget! Bring back the glass, this is the local rule!
And he even attaches Hungarian language training:
-Szia: this is the first step – and the training goes on, even if János can speak several foreign languages and understands even more, he grabs every opportunity to educate his guests some Hungarian. “Há-rom-száz-har-minc fo-rint” (three hund-red thir-ty fo-rint) – he says and indicates the amount with his fingers.
There are Dutch and American origin, etc. between the regulars. The same diversity characterizes the types of people: young girl duos, multi-company managers in elegant shirts, rocker and artisticf styles or shop window dressed twenty somethings while the lady next door arrives in the market hall outfit and slippers. Meanwhile on the gallery a returning smaller community plays their weekly board game.
This place is as immediate as in the following dialogue:
-When should I drink tomorrow?
I prefer the spontaneous scenes which you can be part of all the time. Even if the basic pub food is only grilled toast and nachos, one time I catches some guests having a street picnic on the terrace. Regulars just offered lecsó (Hungarian type of ratatouille) to each other and János not only let them do this with a smile on his face, but he also offered sausages them, that he bought in the near market hall. One guest leaves dog food to another guest’s dog. That’s how they lives here.
Last time I witnessed how a very laid-back, cool foreign regular guest slipped behind the counter in a careless moment, after having his Jägermeister, then refilled the shot glass with tap water and drank it to the bottom. He looked at me and said: – János is my bro’, he forgives me. – Naturally there was no evidence and I don’t say a word about what happened. Whom could I tell it anyhow? J
The life is happening, buzzing here in many ways. And the fact, that neither the foreigners are tourists, but current or prospective regulars, is a huge thing!
-There was a big chaos today – turned a lady with this upbeat to the neighboring bar chair.
-You said it on the right place – I said.
-There was ChAoS, right (for about four years now) there is ChAoS, and there will be ChAoS. – she continued.
If I look around here, I can say yes, KáOsZ will be and it deserves to be!!!
János opened the pub on 12.12.2012., 9 days before the Mayan doomsday. Maybe he thought that he has nothing to loose, anyway he didn’t loose. He named the place after the eclectic style of furniture and decoration elements.
Drink Station is a voluntary classification. János is proud of it’s own idea and it really seems quite odd, because I still haven’t found any place with this classification during my 13 month long Pubtourist career. This one bound later with the Hungarian „italozó” (literally like drink shop) appellation, thinking with responsibility on the compatriots as well.
From all the furniture and equipment the green armchairs and sofa and the Pacsirta (=lark) radio are the preferred pieces of János, because they were owned by his parents.
My personal favorite was the plastic glass snowman from last winter, I’m still preserving this memory.
According to it’s maker, the best historical moment of KáOsZ was the visit of an American rugby team. First time they looked a bit scary, but then they proved to be quite solid and nice. They played a game by passing around a beer mat, and everyone should chew on it, and whoever dropped it out of his mouth, should pay a round.
A wisecracks from a guest:
-Calm down and it will make you calm down!
DRY MATTER CONTENT:
COFFEE: Perté and there is frothy cocoa too.
beers on tap: Pilsner, Ászok
Extra: table soccer, two floors, water pipe and Windows based music box with Youtube, what is actually regularly used.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kAoSzDrInKsTaTiOn/
Address: Budapest, VI. Kerület, Szófia utca 7.