Caru ‘cu Bere is a legendary restaurant in Bucharest, right in the core of the Old Town, preferred by tourists and foreigners, where they serve traditional Romanian food sprinkled with palinca, where wine is pouring and delicious beer is prepared by a special recipe.
You live history at Caru ‘cu Bere in the heart of the Romanian capital. Bustle and cheerfulness are at home in this majestic edifice, built in 1899. However, the name of the business is slightly older, and emerged somewhere beyond the Transylvanian mountains, between Sibiu and Brasov, in 1879 – the foundation year of the Caru ‘cu Bere (The Beer Tank) franchise, which is proudly engraved on the pints of beer.
The same architect who projected the famous Peles Castle in Sinaia, the Austrian Zigfrid Kofczinsky conceived the project of the edifice owned by Nicolae Mircea and Victor & Ignat Bros. The elegant and distinguished building has always been a favorite place to socialize for bohemian figures like actors and Romanian writers of international stature – especially George Cosbuc or Ioan-Luca Caragiale.
According to specialists, the building is the result of the influence of the German Romanticism School, visible both in the exterior and interior architecture and ornamentation. Mrs. Monica Mărgineanu-Cârstoiu, Romanian architect, points out the numerous Gothic details exhibited all over the surface. The panels, themes of the paintings, the stained glass, the richness of metal decorations, stucco elements are reminiscent of the medieval architectonic style, according to several art historians. The place is a unique mixture of styles that make up a wonderful aesthetic aggregate.
A family business founded in late 19th century by a family from Transylvania and extended in other Romanian cities and towns, Caru’ cu Bere has become a franchise and is one of the oldest and currently best-known restaurants and taprooms in Bucharest.
The entry is through a huge revolving door of wood and outside we encounter emblem of the Beer Tank: a rooster on the left and a cat to the right, which may suggest the visitor to: “Wake up in the morning as a rooster and be keen like a cat during nighttime”.
The restaurant is grandiose and can easily be likened to a museum – the decor seems to be taken out of a fairytale, with large arches, stained glass and paintings, so it will be hard to not get yourself seduced by the architecture and design.
Right after you pass the revolving door at the entrance, you are greeted by the extra polite and always smiling staff who will lead you to one of the dozens of wooden tables. The wooden tables are one of the emblems of the place and they are never covered by table cloths.
When it was finished, the building was not only a piece of jewelry, but also a modern technical appliance. It had its own air conditioning system, water source, an external freight elevator used for supply and the debris perished in a combustion installation of its own. It still works perfectly and even today, the smoke is absorbed through the vault through a facility that is not visible to the naked eye. And somewhere in the walls there are invisible slits which filter the hot or cold air, in order to adjust the temperature inside. The 1899 facility is still in perfect shape!
The artistic patterns in which the interior is decorated present a particularly complex and varied technical execution, which constituted a challenge to restorers. Each element of ornamentation – paintings, moldings, furniture, fittings and woodwork items – has been reviewed and renewed respecting the original architecture without introducing modernity in this place full of history, preserving its timeless essence.
Gone through many transformations, Caru` cu Bere still evokes the atmosphere of the early twentieth century Bucharest, becoming a living legend, a real milestone both for foreign tourists and for seekers of the “treasures from another time” of the Romanian capital.
“It was a taproom which made itself remarkable through nobility and refinement, and the lack tablecloths. A simple man on the street and a magistrate could enter and was treated equally. Sometimes, people kept partying until morning. One evening, three revelers refused to leave until morning. They called a cab to take them home, but misplaced the addresses and returned to the brewery. Here, they pinned notes with the revelers’ address on their chest”, says the legend.
The effective area of the restaurant is 1,600 square meters, and the two-storey dwellings with seven rooms up to 50 square meters. Nowadays, the waiters at Caru ‘cu Bere are renowned for their parades. “Currently, there are 160 employees, about as many as in the old days,” reflects the business heir and grandson of its founder, Mr. Mircea Niculae, who often guards the activity and the guests from the balcony at first storey, without being noticed.
One of the first breweries in Bucharest, the impressive building is known and preferred, not only for its original recipe beer but also for the sausages with horseradish, Frankfurter or baked black radish with pork -the specialty of the house.
Few people know that warm beer and hot sausages with horseradish represented the whim 1900s boyars.
Up to this day, the cuisine is varied: you will find all kinds of hearty traditional Romanian dishes, and advantageous breakfast and lunch, dedicated to pensioners or students.
The menu looks like an old epoch newspaper and will lure with delicacies among which I mention only a few: soups, grills (sausages, skewers, chicken breast, pork neck etc.), salads, homemade dishes (Hungarian goulash, baked beans or stuffed vine leaves), fish and seafood, plus salads, desserts and beverages of all kinds.
Almost every night there are artistic programs and the orchestra enchants the guests with performances of symphonic repertoire, or traditional music from different cultures and, quite often, the aisle between the tables is filled with guests who are invited to dance.
One of the highlights of the busy evenings is when the waitresses and waiters mysteriously disappear for a few moments just to return in full formation, parading through the tables on the music rhythm and in the applauses of delighted customers.
The atmosphere is flawless and the setting is absolutely exquisite. If you look around, at the ornament of fine wood and the frescos representing noble coats of arms of the most important institutions in Romanian and even world history (you will notice one representing ancient Egyptian Pharaohs, looking like a frame from Aida), you might get the feeling that you find yourself in a museum where somebody had the idea to throw a party!
Don’t leave without asking for the beer of the house and ask one of the waiters to tell you the legend of the wooden statue of Ghiță the Cellarman, guarding over the tables from the right bannister, holding a lantern in his hand!
Photo source: Picture 1: eastcomfort.com; Picture 2: carucubere.ro; Picture 3: for.ever2.ro; Picture 4: foodcrew.ro; Picture 5: travel.coolnewz.info; Picture 6: heybucharest.com; Picture 7: romania-insider.com; Picture 8: romania-insider.com; Picture 9: orasulvechi.ro; Pitcure 10: nuntabucuresti.ro