JOHN BULL AUTOMOBILE - SOLID AS A ROCK
I went to the John Bull Automobile Pub today as a kind of semi-regular. I've been going to the place for ages now, perhaps more than decade now. Over these ten years the level of service and the quality of food hasn't changed all that much. And what more do we need now today, in this era of confusion and uncertainty than some fixed points in life.
The circle of friends (the guests) who visit the pub are there for that same reason: they know that they will get good, solid food for a reasonable price and there won't be any major surprises along the way. Who needs surprises anyway?
My pal, B - who seems to be more of a regular than I am - already knows what he will be having for lunch by the time he gets into his car at the office. I have a feeling he knows the menu and also the daily specials by heart. So I arrive and I get the menu card and never take a look at it. JB is one of the places where you go for the daily specials and the chef's suggestions more than what's on the menu, because you just KNOW that it'll be fresh, crunchy and tasty.
That's the kind of feeling I had with Remiz over the years - always chosing things from the daily offering, never once taking a look at the menu. Unfortunately, the taste of Remiz nowadays is far from crunchy, frash and tasty and the overall level has dropped dramatically over the last year or two. But some restaurants always deserve a second chance because we love them too much. Remiz is now past its fifth chance and still it doesn't deliver. Unlike the topic of our discussion today, JB, which does deliver.
I remember going to major post-New Years events there with parents, where members of the high society mingled and danced to the tunes of famous Hungarian singers. A major feasts usually accompanied these events, where one could sample the delicacies of the kitchen. I remember having really tasty carpaccio, roast goose leg with steamed "champagne" cabbage and the best mákosguba on the planet with honey. It was truly an occasion that we prepared for - even after the major dining and wining surrounding xmas and new year - and we always knew what was coming in terms of the food.
Same goes for weekdays. Today, for example, as soon as I ordered it, I knew that my Duck soup with tarragon would be rich, tasty but just OK. That's what "tárkonyos raguleves" is about. In my theory, it can never be 'perfect', but it can be tasty and filling and satisfying if you want a warm soup to fill you up when its partly raining sleet and partly snowing outside. I had a major inner argument going on whether to pick the breaded pork liver or the lentil stew as seconds, but ended up going for the lentils as soon as B ordered the liver.
The lentils were good, but didn't have much of creamy texture and weren't spiced up the way I would have liked them to be. Maybe I'm eating too much Daal in the indian restaurants and I can't make up my mind who does the best lentils: Hungarians or the Indians. The liver looked very good - next time I'll definitely go for that.
Suggestions: one could possibly say that this faux-english pub needed a facelift. I would possibly argue against that - it's just what we need to feel at home and to feel safe. One could also say that the menu needed to be more contemporary, draw in another, more younger and fancier crowd. Wrong move. It should stay with its well known Hungarian, mother-type cooking, because that's what we were brought up on and that's what we miss the most. Could the quality of food be better? Certainly so, but knowing the owners and their maximalistic view on life, I'm sure that this is only a matter of time.
Overall: the past 6/10, the present 5/10
John Bull Automobile Pub
1122 Maros u. 28