By Francesco Piccat
Its reputation as the Paris of the East is well deserved, but besides being the perfect place for understanding the XX century and its madness, Bucharest is home to a thriving food scene.
Origo coffee shop – Strada Lipscani
Origo is a place where to go twice a day: for the breakfast and at the evening. To get your day started out right, a 100% Arabica coffee from Burundi is what you need. If you are tired of finding your name wrongly spelled time after time on your Starbucks cups, just come here. Coffee is roasted every morning, the service is quick and a cosy terrace is waiting for you. Take your time here, you will need it later visiting the wickedness built by M. Ceausescu. As well as coffees and cappuccino, Origo proposes a large variety of home-made yogurts, infusions and teas for the healthier among you.
It’s 7.30 pm and before trying some mici (Romanian sausages) you probably desire to have a good aperitif. Again, head to lipscani n.9 and hope to find a free table in the terrace. “At sunset, the coffee cups turn in cocktail glasses”, said a waiter. Effectively, delicious cocktails and a relaxing atmosphere are waiting for you. Espresso martini, old fashioned and Bryopsida are the hottest trend but do not forget to try some typical Romanian wines as the Neagru de Dragasani or the Neagru de Purcari.
Hanuc lui Manuc – Strada Francezā
If you want to have lunch in the most ancient hotel of Bucharest, this is the place for you. In fact, Hanuc lui Manuc was built by an Armenian fleeing from Istanbul in the XIX century. At that time, Bucharest was the capital of an Ottoman province and for that reason the building seems to be a caravansary. Plenty of Romanian, Russian and Turkish diplomat stayed here and the sort of this part of Europe had often been designed among this tables.
Imagine to be an Ottoman commander, very hungry for the long ride you have made among the Wallachian planes. All you want is grilled meat with home-made beer and a bed to rest. Not much different from what an international traveller would desire after having visited the court of Vlad Tepes the Impaler which is just in front of this place. That is precisely what Hanuc Lui Manuc continues to offer: a huge grill is placed on the left side of the court and does not stop cooking mici, traditional Romanian sausages which are made from a mixture of beef, lamb and pork with spices.
Bistrot Français – Strada Nicolae Golescu
It’s 8.30 pm and you are wondering about where to have a romantic and gourmet dinner. Head to Piata Revolutiei and behind the famous Romanian Athenaeum you will discover a
I have already told you that Bucharest
Bistrot Francais is a restaurant that combines French gourmet culture and Romanian gastronomy from Normandy oysters to Transylvanian truffles, from Caviar to Mangali (Romanian pork), from Saint Pierre to the Romanian Lamb and from the famous international wines to Romanian native wines. All this gastronomic journey balances perfectly the architectural harmony of the building, which was built in the 1920s by the French architect Alfred Galeron and will bring you directly to the Paris of the 10’s. The charts exhibited at this location bear the signatures of great roaming painters who lived in the interwar period. “The restaurant’s cellar has up to 700 different labels, appreciated by even the most important American magazines”, said Catalin Grancea, sommelier and maître of the restaurant.
Even though the interiors are very elegant, I suggest you to reserve a table on the terrace. Especially at night, the wine’s decanter will reflect the lights of the candles in the middle of an imperial round table. Now you understand why Bucharest was and is called the Paris of the East.
Carturesti carusel – strada Lipscani
As well as being one of the most photographed places in Bucharest, Carturesti carusel is a breath-taking bookstore which is located inside a XVIII century French-style building. More than 10.000 books are situated on six open floors and will give you the possibility to go beyond the mainstream tourist guides of the city and deepen the Bucharest’ culture. On the ground floor, there are many books published in English, for those who do not understand Romanian. On the top floor a cosy café bar is the perfect place to start the reading of an interesting book in a bright atmosphere.
Romanian Peasant Museum/ Village Museum – Soseaua Pavel Dimitrievici Kiseleff 3
By far the best museum of Bucharest. In fact, more than a conventional museum it is an experience: you will dive into the popular culture of Romania through its history and its traditions. Built during the 20’s, the communist regime wanted it to represent the communist party. But with the fall of Ceausescu, the museum came to life again housing one of the more important collection of everyday life. The Village museum forms part of the same institution and it is the more interesting place. It is an is an open-air ethnographic museum and contains more than 270 authentic peasant farms from all the Romanian regions. So, you are going to visit all Romania saving the trouble of taking Romanian trains.
Intercontinental Hotel – Bulevardul Nicolae Balescu
For a large period of time the unique five-star hotel in Bucharest, the Intercontinental is located near the University, in the hearth of the town. During the Romanian revolution, international journalists reported from its balconies the repressive regime using the force against the students protesting just below. Class and luxury are the ingredients of a perfect blend for your stay. This hotel is equipped with every comfort, from the swimming pool to a relaxing lounge.
K+K Elizabeta hotel – Strada Slanic
Named after a beloved Romanian queen, this Hotel is a smart solution for those who want convenience and the proximity of the old town. Due to a superb wellness centre with sauna, your stay here will be both relaxing and healthy. Service is mindful and watchful but remember, it is forbidden to smoke inside.