Gerlóczy utca 4 [map]
Pest Centre, V, Deák Ferenc tér (M1,2,3), 3 min

Rating: 7.9/10

I can’t remember the number of times I’ve been to Merlin. I can, however, remember that every time I’ve gone, it’s been for something completely different. Such is the common case for this eclectic restaurant/bar/café/theatre/nightclub/concert venue/fashion center.
Thanks to the sundry events going on there day to day, Merlin is a unique spot in Budapest, without feeling very “Budapest” at all. Aesthetically, it's certainly lacking. Once you get up the awkwardly spaced spiral steps you feel like you’re in sort of bar/whatever else purgatory. That is if purgatory had a giant, cumbersome hole right in the middle of it (thanks to those damned stairs). It’s stuck somewhere between the vastness of a high-ceilinged warehouse (exposed ductwork and all), a dentist's office (tacky gold chairs and sterile environment), and an art cinema/concert venue. All this could have you saying, “Make up your mind Merlin. Please just decide already!”

On the other hand, they do make an effort to liven it up a little in the evening, with projections on nearly all of the upstairs walls. It’s a novel concept but the expanse that is the broad open room is a bit of an odd, uncomfortable space for the idea to actually take shape. (It is quite practical for displaying the menu though.) Maybe if Merlin were a bit cozier, the projections would feel a bit more organic.

Looking at it from another perspective, the fact that Merlin doesn’t stick to just one thing allows them to accommodate a varied list of events and an even more varied clientele. It’s the only place in Budapest I’ve been for coffee and to make use of their Wifi hotspot, for a Slovakian exhibitionist theatre performance in English where all the actors ended up naked, and to catch international bands perform as well.

A friend put it to me that, "it's the place in Budapest for people who want to go to the theatre, but can’t afford it.” Quite true, but with regular fashion events and DJ/dance nights, it's much more than that. Whatever your fancy, whether it be lunch and their passable napi menu (business lunch), a late-night rave, a walk down the catwalk, or just an evening of drinks with friends, Merlin caters to your every need, making it more of a butler than a magician.

To see what's on right now at Merlin, check their official website here.

Service: 7.5/10
Atmosphere: 8/10

Value for money: 8/10
What people we know think: 8/10

Merlin is easily spotted from Deák. Simply walk down the korut (towards Astoria) a minute and hang a right onto Gerlóczy and the maze-ish entrance to Merlin will be on your right.

Jacob P.



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