The eternal quest for decent sausage and Bucharest’s best full English breakfast

There have been, over the years, a few places which have claimed to do a ‘full English breakfast’ in Bucharest.

The dear old Dubliner was probably the first, serving up a just about passable attempt at eggs and bacon, although the sausages always left much to be desired. The late, lamented Sydney Bar & Grill was probably the next place to have a go, but again, despite managing to find a decent bit of bacon the standard of sausage was woeful and the whole thing was a huge disappointment.

Even the big five-star hotels joined the English breakfast bandwagon at one stage – if memory serves – adding eggs, bacon, mushrooms, fried tomatoes and sausages to their Sunday Brunches. Alas, even these big players could never quite do the idea of a decent fry-up justice: as usual it was the sausages which let the side down.

One of the better efforts in recent years was that of Haydn Deane up at Deane’s in Brasov. He sourced the sausages from a butcher who made them to order and they weren’t all bad. For the real thing though you either had to go back to the UK and buy some, make your own or fill your boots with cocktail sausages at the Queen’s Birthday Party (having thrown off your republican clothes for few hours: it’s amazing how quickly principles can be forgotten for a sausage or two and a glass of Pimm’s).

That’s not to say you couldn’t get a decent bit of sausage in Romania, however. Local, smoked sausages can be very good indeed (ask your father-in-law: he will have a supply) although their reduced meat content makes them a coarser experience than your average English (or Irish) banger.

Of all the sausages we have eaten in Romania, by the way, we have always thought that the very best – and consistently the best, for almost 15 years – are the bratwurst at Die Deutsche Kneipe. We are huge fans of the Kneipe: its beer is ace, its schnitzel is wunderbar and the owner’s wife even has a mullet for added authenticity. We should also add that of all places Auchan in Titan sells some rather good bratwurst at the cooked food counter.

Yet for a genuinely brilliant English sausage you no longer need to go any further than the London Street Bistro on Strada Putul lui Zamfir. Alongside the many, many tasty and rather quirky treats that owner and cook Rachel Sargent has come up with they are currently serving just about the best full English beakfast that Bucharest has ever managed to come up with. Take a look for yourself:

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Called The Full Monty you get two large homemade English sausages, bacon, double egg on toast, baked beans (with a bit of a kick) a fried tomato, mushrooms and a homemade sauce not a million miles away from HP (but tasting a million times better). At 30 lei it’s an absolute bargain (like just about everything else on the London Street Bistro menu), and if you do have a craving for a decent fry-up it’s just about the only place we are happy to recommend.

Bucharest might be nice when it’s finished

We returned to the Romanian capital last night after a few weeks away to discover much of the city has become an enormous building site. From Piata Sudului to Casa Scanteii almost all of Bucharest’s main roads and junctions appear to be undergoing serious repair or construction work.

The north of the city is the worst affected.

An underpass is being built at Piata Scanteii, affecting traffic into and out of the city. The Arc de Triumf is being renovated, and while this has yet to impact on traffic, it soon will when construction of a pedestrian underpass begins. At Piata Charles de Gualle the road surface is being repaired, and a lane of traffic around the roundabout is closed. Of the three, it is this which is causing the biggest traffic jams, with queues all the way back to Piata Victoriei not uncommon, especially in the morning. We do not remember the road surface being in particularly bad shape here, and wonder if the city council couldn’t have waited until the work at Casa Scanteii and the Arc de Triumf was finished before opening a third building site within less than a kilometre away.

Visitors to Bucharest taking the Sightseeing Bus Tour might want to get off the bus (as it heads north) at Piata Victoriei: beyond that you will sit in traffic for some time for little reward.

To anyone wanting to get to Herastrau Park (or the Village Museum) we recommend the metro (to Aviatorilor).

And we have yet to mention the ongoing widening of the pavement along stretches of Calea Victoriei.

South of the river, chaos reigns on Soseaua Mihai Bravu, where it meets Calea Vacaresti. Here, the city council recently opened half of a flyover (taking traffic coming from the south over the busy junction. The other part of the flyover is under construction now, and is causing delays for anyone heading south. Why the two parts of the flyover couldn’t be built simultaneously is – like much else today – beyond us.

A couple of kilometres down the road yet more roadworks await drivers, at Piata Sudului, where an underpass is being built. Of all the projects currently underway, this is probably the most essential: traffic in the area will be a nightmare for the time it takes to complete, but once finished anyone who travels via Piata Sudului will count their blessings.

Note that this is not a full list of Bucharest’s current major roadworks: if you know of others worth adding to the map, let us know.

La Ministressa

Much outrage in Romania today at the rather pathetic way in which the country’s finance minister Ioana Petrescu crumbled last night when asked some very simple questions by President Traian Basescu.

Petrescu – along with Prime Minister Victor Ponta – had been summonsed by Basescu to discuss the government’s decision to reduce by five per cent the amount employers pay in national insurance (CAS) contributions.

The recordings of the discussion were made public by the president’s office, and can be seen here. Petrescu comes across as a timid, scared little rabbit caught in the headlights of an enormous articulated lorry whose driver has just watched every episode of Top Gear from start to finish. That wonderful English phrase ‘not fit for purpose’ springs immediately to mind.

That Petrescu is not up to the job does not come as a surprise to us. When she was appointed back in March we did ask if her background in the bubble that is American academia was the best preparation for dealing with the problems of a banana republic in Eastern Europe. We don’t like to say we told you so, but hey: we told you so.

Ponta’s motives for bringing Petrescu – whose name usually cannot be uttered without her Harvard qualifications being mentioned – into the government have always been clear. Young and unquestionably intelligent she was meant to give Ponta and his tainted regime an air of youthful hope. Alas, a youthful-looking turd is still a turd, and yesterday Petrescu had the look of somebody who has just realised the size of the turd she has stepped in: it’s the size of a country.

For her sake, she should do the decent thing and resign, and return to the cosseted world of academia. With the more anti-government parts of the local media now commenting on frivolities such as how she looks – from her hair to her choice of shoes – she can be sure that things are about to get very rough indeed. Romanian politics is no place for little girls. Any woman who wants to make their mark in politics in this country needs to be a bit more, well, a bit more Udrea.

We have a winner

Take all the crap travel pieces you’ve ever read about Romania, put them together in one place and still you are a long, long way short of having a turd the size of this effort from those self-proclaimed too-cool-for-school hipsters at Vice.

Clearly the work of adolescents who think that it’s like, really edgy to use swearwords and talk about drugs the piece reveals little – if anything – new about Bucharest. Romania is a homophobic country? Wow, what a scoop: stop the presses.

What the piece does reveal however is that Vice - far from being the counter-culture bible it so desperately wants to be – is little more than an effortlessly mainstream publication with predictable middle-class values.

The revolution will not be reported by Vice. They will be too busy trying to score drugs because that’s where it’s at, man.

We will comment no further. Go read the piece for yourself here.

Three covers

Three covers from our three latest In Your Pocket mini-guides to Bucharest, Brasov and Sibiu.

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Brasov_IYP_Mini_Guide_21_Cover

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