Roncsbár, Debrecen

Csapó u. 27, 4024 Hungary
  • Quality and/or choice of drinks –5/10
  • Style and Decor – 10/10
  • Character, Atmosphere and/or Local Life – 10/10
  • Amenities, Events & Community – 9/10
  • Value for Money – 8/10
  • The Pub-Going Factor –  10/10

While ruin bars may be synonymous with Budapest, other cities in Hungary quickly taken inspiration from the design and ethos – it was inevitable they would create their own version. Gázfröccs in Sopron and Csillag EzPresszó in Győr both prove that the bar has been raised. Roncsbár in Hungary’s 2nd city Debrecen, is the most convincing example yet that it’s worth leaving Hungary’s megacity to explore the nightlife in the provinces.

While I love an old boozer, such as Wichmann’s in Budapest, it must be said the standards of décor, atmosphere and amenities in Hungarian pubs have shot up dramatically since Szimpla et al arrived on the scene. Roncsbár (Roncs, meaning Wreck) immediately showed that its up to the task.

Established 2013, Roncs is both a cosy pub, a concert hall, a garden terrace and a arty streetfood courtyard, delivering the alluring appeal we love about ruin bars – a combination of rooms to explore as well as cosy areas to congregate. Unlike unsuccessful attempts to export these to the West, it doesn’t feel the least bit corporate, even when you add bouncers and plastic cups (we’ll get to that in a minute).

There is no shortage of ways to spend your evening here, whether that be for a quiet drink, for food, for music and partying, or games. What’s better, the bar is designed in such a way that it never feels like those people are clashing with each other.

While not as enormous as the likes of the Fogas Ház ‘party complex’ or the ruined mansion of Szimpla, there is a fair expanse of space, and just like those it’s exciting to walk through it all for the first time.

Entering via the front door of the pub, you could be fooled for thinking that’s all there is. It is very pleasant – nothing negative to report – the area is focused on drinks and socialising rather than food – fine by me. You’ll find exposed brick and slightly ramshackle wooden tables. The ceiling appears to be studded with cymbals from drum kits (or was I wrong?). There’s a lively atmosphere and if that was it, then Roncsbár would probably warrant inclusion on our website as an 8/10 pub.

But after you’ve taken in the indoors, have a wander around and look for a side door – this will take you into the entrance way for the ruin-pub aspect proper. The design suddenly explodes into an eclectic whirlwind of bric-a-brac and, if you pay attention, some finely-crafted artwork. The cherry on top of the cake is, in this case, a wrecked (get it?!) aeroplane which looks like it has been hung, interior contents an all, to the inside of the roof.

What’s better, is this is heated in the icy winter and well-ventilated, keeping the place comfortable at all times.

Carry on past the stalls to find a courtyard seating area which will appeal to anyone wanting to watch some sport (big screen, of course) and a terrace garden area – closed on my visit due to the snowy weather – but definitely a further area to spread out in spring and summer. Barbecue? Yes please.

Drinks are about on standard with most Hungarian bars, however their website boasts they have their own-label beer from Rendelkezik (Reindeer?) which I must admit I didn’t see. It’s still possible to get a standard lager for a fair price and nothing here, be it beer, wine or spirits will offend most local or foreign wallets. If you’re outside you will be made to drink it in a plastic cup – on the upside no-one has to worry about broken glass.

Service can be a bit rushed and impersonal in that way all popular places end up being, but that isn’t a reason to mark this place down.

Unlike Budapest, there really is only one place like this in Debrecen, certainly making it stand out. There will always be one or two people of a contrary or conservative nature who take a dislike to these bars. You can’t please all of the people all of the time, but Roncsbár comes pretty damn close.

I love being able to dip in and out of events that are happening, be able to get some fresh air, or have a sit down, and still be in the same place, and still have something interesting to look at.

Please note that Debrecen has a very lively, albeit dispersed nightlife and there are several pubs of a very different style that are also worth visiting. Please see HERE.

There are only a few bars that have earned our 10/10 score, and so congratulations goes to Roncsbár. Long live the Wreck!

 

K.K.C (Kaņepes Kultūras centrs), Riga

kkc

Skolas iela 15, Centra rajons, Rīga,

After being exposed to the ruin bar scene in Budapest, any other venue elsewhere that aims to achieve a similar thing becomes immediately of interest.

Riga’s basket case old town makes for an uneven and at times quite hollow night out, as the centre is overpriced and caters for stag tourism with the effect that it virtually eradicates locals. This is not to say there are no bars worthy of note, but after a while you begin to wonder where the young Rigans are actually hanging out.

K.K.C is one of the answers to that question, set in a large building which looks somewhere between a mansion house or an old municipal building. It is located north of the old town in ‘Centrs’ a fascinating district full of grandiose pre-war and inter-war buildings, a hodgepodge of interesting styles, and yet slightly sad and neglected, a mini Gotham City, if you like. The area feels like it has a lot of potential to be refurbished and preserved, but whether there is enough money to bring that about is another matter.

K.K.C has an attractive courtyard area which the building wraps around, and upon arriving (providing it’s Spring or summer) you’ll notice lots of people are happy sitting around on ledges with a beer and socialising.

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Indoors there is a mixture of art space and more conventional bar-like rooms, with friendly service, cheap decent beers and a refreshing DIY approach. The good reviews of the place are well deserved as it provides a much needed break from the norm, and in the summer especially it would be the ideal spot to hang out outside of the old town. It does have that slightly thrilling lawless feel of a squat a la Metelkova mixed with an atmospheric bohemian ruin bar – reinforced when you remind yourself K.K.C translates to Cannabis Cultural Centre – though don’t get your hopes up – Kanepe (or Hemp in Latvian) is simply the surname of the owner.

The mixture of faint dilapidation, art space and bric-a-brac creates a nice atmosphere. In some of the rooms the wooden construction of the house, choice of hung artwork and items like pianos definitely give it a feel of the lunatics taking over the asylum, which adds something on top of your usual bar going experience. Make sure you explore as there are far more rooms than initially meets the eye!

The venue has even more potential than they seem to realise, and it will be interesting to see whether they ever truly get to work on the décor, but for the time bring you can come along for its exhibitions, concerts, or more likely just for a beer and a chat to hang out. Don’t despair of the offerings in the old town – real Riga is alive and well, only a short walk away!

  • Quality and/or choice of drinks – 7/10
  • Style and Decor – 8/10
  • Character, Atmosphere and/or Local Life – 8/10
  • Amenities, Events & Community – 8/10
  • Value for Money – 8/10
  • F: The Pub-Going Factor –  9/10