Premier League Sports Bars

How do Man Utd do it? Why can't Liverpool quite cut it? How many managers will Chelsea get through this time? What's happened to Arsenal? Are the big four even the big four anymore? And can Man City really buy themselves trophies or just petulant Brazilians?
It’s the most exciting league in the Universe, but where on Earth can you watch it?

Well, being in Budapest doesn’t necessarily mean you have to rely on internet live streams (maybe this one) or minute-by-minute reports on the BBC website. Eurosport 2 have exclusive Premier League rights for Hungary this year, and there are a number of bars that subscribe to Setanta and Sky... just in case you were worried about missing a single second of Jamie Redknapp‘s verbal diarrhoea.

Last season, we dealt with Beckett’s, the Manchester United of Hungarian sports bars (review here), but not wishing to take out a loan to finance a small beer, we looked elsewhere...

The Caledonia (Rating: 7/10)
Mozsár utca 9 [map]
Pest Centre, VI, Oktogon (M1,T4/6), 3 min

A reasonable bet is this wee Scottish pub in a street behind Oktogon. With a friendly owner and a predominantly ex-pat crowd, it also happens to be one of the few places in the city where you can get bitter on tap. Given the current transfer market (yes, prepare yourself for relentless football metaphor), 500 forint for a korsó seems pretty reasonable to me; 660 for a pint of Best is fair play too.

Slightly officious table staff, however, tend to sully the atmosphere. On a couple of
occasions last year, I had stern looks shot at me for not ordering enough cokes! Having said that, the Caledonia has plenty of screens, English commentary, and a British ’pub’ feel that's almost convincing. Worth a shot.

Champs (Rating: 7/10)
Erőd utca 22 [map] Buda, II, Mechwart Liget (T4/6) 1 min
Dohány utca 20 [map] Pest Centre, VII, Astoria (M2), 4 min

If you can’t see Premier League games at Champs, then you're probably not looking at the right screen. They have more televisions than you could ever need, and boast a quirky menu which relates every dish to a famous Hungarian athlete.

With a number of extra German channels, branches on either side of the river, and an enthusiasm for all kinds of sports, they have slightly more strength in depth than the competition. A bit too flashy for my taste though… a bit too Chelsea.

Ezaz Café Bistro
(Rating: 7.5/10)
Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 15 [map]
Pest Centre, VI, Arany János utca (M3), 2 min
Ezaz, opposite the Basilica on Bajcsy-Zsilinsky, is not the most likely title contender. No Sky or Setanta, just foreign language channels - watching games here is a little like being Theo Walcott in the Arsenal dressing room. Ezaz opened less than a year ago and isn’t really a sports bar, its youth and inexperience betrayed by a an IKEA smell which lingers on the upholstery.

Still, the complete absence of big match atmosphere is made up for by the fact you can always get a seat, and 520 Ft for a
korsó is just about acceptable. (You may have to ask them to switch on Eurosport 2, if it isn’t already on though!) Football without the ceremony.... Middlesborough, perhaps.

Café Vogue (Rating: 8/10)
Teréz körút 41 [map]
Pest Centre, V, Nyugati tér (M3), 3 min

Cafe Vogue is right up there this season and may just edge out the others. Firstly, it's not an ex-pat pub, so there's nothing of that ersatz atmosphere. But unlike Ezaz, there are enough other people in the bar, to stop it feeling like a non-event. There are several screens, one of which is only visible from the gallery, allowing the unique possibility of an unobstructed view, without even having to crane your neck.

The only issue is the beer price. The standard price is 630Ft a korsó, which would usually have the hub running away as fast as Aaron Lennon. But during the day, until 8pm, in fact, there's a ten-hour happy hour, with beer down to 490Ft a pint! Just one thing: you may have to point at the blackboard when you get the bill, just to make sure that they understand that you understand the deal.

Box Utca (Rating: 6.5/10)
Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 21 [map]
Pest Centre, VI, Arany János utca (M3), 1 min

And finally, before the referee blows his final whistle on this particular Saturday afternoon, I feel compelled to mention one other popular sports bar/restaurant: Box Utca. Owned by a famous middleweight Hungarian boxer, it’s a reliable place to watch the Premiership (and, indeed, the cricket), but gosh, it's posh, and the over-dressed waiters are a little too eager to refill your glass. What is this, the directors' box?

It seems from the walls, that it has indeed attracted a rather well-to-do clientele - Paul McCartney, for example.
No doubt, the prices weren't a problem for him. But price is what you pay; value is what you get... and 690Ft for a korsó is like paying 16.5 million for Darren Bent!.

Andy T and Andy Sz.



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