Korona (=Crown) brasserie, the cellar treasury
As we leave the downtown behind at the Keleti Railway Station, the number of the pubs is drastically decreasing, so every single piece should be estimated. Let me introduce Korona, the geographically second to last pub of the here already calmed down party district. This is an actual treasury, which quasi created a museum of itself with its legendary objects with unique background stories.
I met Korona (almost at the border of District Seven) first, several months before I started this continuous pub crawl. As a nearby resident I starred at it many times, considering to enter, before the first occasion, when I went down for a coffee after running out of it at home. Before – I realize that it’s a shame – I was quite prejudicial. I didn’t find it so inviting from the outside, as welcoming I got to know it from the inside.
An up to the average exterior covers a super intimate, authentic cellar pub, that is much more younger, than it seems (only founded in 1994.)
The age doesn’t matter as much, as the spirit, in which it was made and in which it is still existing. In the autumn of 2015, as a beginner Pub Tourist I thought on Korona as one the most exciting target to explore. When I got to know it better, I was not disappointed at all.
A regular table is still existing here, with an own chair of any qualified regular guests. The clock, above this table, without hour hands shows the eternal present.
According to Györgyi – one of the bartenders – if all the regulars gather, they are a total of thirteen and they have to push more tables together. Those can be new regulars who are accepted by the former ones.
I always had a super refreshing coffee anytime between 10AM to 10PM at the counter, usually in cocoa color (Merido Aroma), served in this kind of nostalgia-cup, guarded by surprising steam punk figures:
In its simplicity it is perfect, without any sweetener, with minimal coffee cream. I would choose this coffee – even if it is heated in the microwave – thousand times over any franchise coffee product accompanied by the standard fake courtesy. In Korona the coffee is always accompanied by some nice words here. Two barmaids change each other in the counter. One of them is the manager herself, Manyi who is more than sixty and she’s smiling or laughing all the time, without any copy-pasted empty gesticulations. When I arrive here in the rhythm of the our busy world, she is able to switch my spinning mind into a Mediterranean slow motion mod with her mentality. If the weather is cold she is recognizable of her puffy “MANYI” labelled vest.
You can see her portrait on the wall created by a guest with low vision. He used an old ID picture. According to the legend, the artist has finished the drawing in 10 minutes, but meanwhile he leaned so close over his art work that his hair touched the paper. Another guest who has mocked the artist before, rushed to acquire frame and glass to protect the fresh graphite against the smudging. They gave the portrait to Manyi on her birthday.
The other bartender Györgyi is a fan of Englis and Irish beers. If she would win the lottery, she would open an English pub in Budapest. She has been a pub crawl in London, even in Camden Town. She was the one showed me inside pictures of a pub from my bucket list, The World’s End for the first time. She works in Korona for seven years, but since 34 years in gastronomy overall.
She has also worked in the legendary Alagút (=Tunnel) brasserie before, which was already turned to an elegant bistro, but until today, I hear stories about the former version everywhere. Korona inherited four chairs from there. Györgyi serves the guests in very funny and entertaining style , I love to listen to her dialogues with others at the bar. An example:
-Regular: Give me one more!
-György: Again? Did you ate a sponge today, didn’t you?
I never have left Korona without a funny or interesting story, never have left it without a smile on my face, even when my phone had been stolen on the previous day, and I came down to have a coffee between my home and the police station.
The V.I.P. unit of the regulars have private events time to time, but sometimes I could stay for a fast drink or drink to go even then. That was exactly happing 14 months ago, on the very first day of my pub crawl when I went down directly to visit this place as the fourth stop on my tour. It seemed that the regulars have a pub-picnic. In their case the pub food means that the guests bring their own food and they share it with each other. So at least the Tavern label prevails a bit.
Korona had the permission to this genre, but the kitchen was not developed to fit to the EU rules, so it stuck with a brasserie and wine bar profile. Pub food is limited to peanuts and popcorn, but after a little try you can get fatty bread ground red pepper, even csalamádé (tranditional Hungarian mixed pickles) too. If it’s necessary, they go or send a regular to the closest shop to buy fresh bakery, but the safest is to bring your own bread or buns.
But let’s continue with the most important specificity of Korona: a lot of creative and interesting design elements, accumulated over the years. It doesn’t matter how many time I go there, I always discover something „new”, despite it has always been there. I am discrediting myself, but but I noticed that the lamps have straw hat lampshades.
Attention: these objects are not meant to imitate a ruin pub, but they really preserve the history of the pub. These relics are mostly gifts from the guests and they recall funny stories and the illustrious events of the past. Shocking events are attached to some of the objects and it could be a real touristic program to hear about the origins personally from the staff, so I will tell only fragments about this events and let the rest to them, the professionals.
The most iconic and shocking is Elemér, the dildo, hanging from the ceiling, almost hid in its ribbon.
First time heard the legend, I didn’t want to believe it! I thought that it’s a kind of initiation ceremony for the new guests. So next day I went down and asked the other bartender, apparently naively, and other guests, who haven’t been there the previous evening. Everyone said the same, but in different style, revealing new details. So, we are may dealing with one of the biggest conspiracies or the story is really true. In the second case, the world we live in is perhaps much “wider” than we thought. But I shut up now, I don’t steal the show, they tell it gladly, starting with: Elemér was born…
By the way this „full-blooded” venue is rich in phallic symbols, such as a creative calabash.
In addition there is a regular here, who strengths the image. The chance to find him there is 75:25, and when you leave he says goodbye like this: „Have a nice ejaculation!” If someone has already tested the female version of this wish, please let me know in an E-mail, faithful to the original text! Thank you in advance!
But, lets not change the subject! The runner-up in the competition of Legendary Decorations and Their Stories is the small statue of the Foundry worker. The original life-size public sculpture is in France, and this is one of the three or four original figurines, what came here by Dan Brown like twists. The medals on his uniform is a different story.
Third place: the „Nokedli level” label at the stairs. This is the memoir of a late regular and his dog. They had a police joke matching story, but the end of the master’s story was rather fitting to a police scene not a joke, but it has no connection with the pub.
On one of the hidden shelves, there is an old completely coffee grinder, seemingly just like any other decoration, but this could be a basis for an internal contrary. Fortunately love always wins. Because Györgyi has a starting coffee grinder collection, but Manyi got this grinder as a gift, so it can’t be the part of Györgyi’s porfolio, even if she has to look at it wishfully in all of her shifts.
There is a pretty, big and fake spiderweb in one of the corners, imported from England by Györgyi. This raised the question about another corner:
– Is this also a fake cobweb?
-You will never know. And what if it’s real, who will realize? You asked as well, right?
And still there is a lot of object in this treasury, all of them has its own, particular story, other then just the need of a further object from an antique market into an empty corner. Necessarily ask them about the chains.
It is a place where we can feel ourselves simply well. Not because of the wide range of the drinks, but the unique atmosphere and decoration and a service with style are all good reasons to come or return here. Speaking about drinks: they have very tasty pálinka and wines from Eger wine region, every year personally selected and pre-tasted by Manyi. From tap beer, there is only one kind (Arany Ászok), but more in bottles, so I better cross my finger for a new pub food to come, not a new beer tap.
That’s how Györgyi introduces Korona: this is a quiet, conversational pub, but if you want to make a big party, we are supporting that idea oo.
Young, middle-aged, elderly people come here too. Foreigners sometimes stop at the entrance very often but then they don’t go down, just like me 2,5 years ago. I try to encourage them with vehement gesticulation from the other side of the street. I’m pointing down and screaming to Go Go Go and doling thumbs up, but I guess look scary because I have never could manage to motivate down any foreigner. Györgyi told me „there are foreigners here every day. Sometimes I’m the only Hungarian and there’s no two people of the same nation. There are even foreigner regulars too: Irish, Finnish, Russian, Welsh, Slovakian.
DRY MATTER CONTENT:
Adress: 1076, Budapest, Thököly út 32
Facebook page (not official): https://www.facebook.com/pages/Korona-Kisvend%C3%A9gl%C5%91/147788958623349?fref=ts
Open: Every day 10:00-22:00
EXTRA: you can play chess