The top seven restaurants in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca) through the eyes of food blogger Endre Dorozsmai
Among the major cities of Transylvania, in the field of gastronomy and hospitality Kolozsvár is undoubtedly the leader. This, of course is influenced by many agents: there is the rich, centuries old cultural heritage that filters through many fields. The large number of the inhabitants of the city (411,000 in the metropolitan area) is also an important influencing factor. When it comes to implementing an experimental idea in the field of gastronomy, – which, besides serving the public also desires to educate it – it is also crucial that a high percentage of the population are students, by definition open to new ideas.
The qualitative improvement of the hospitality culture of Kolozsvár in the last five years is astonishing, and the offer is maybe the most colorful among the major cities of the Carpathian Basin when it comes to restaurants, bars, coffee shops and street food units.
The acclaimed gastro blogger, Dorozsmai Endre initiated TransylvaniaNow in the secrets of restaurant rating. Quality of the food is undoubtedly the most important criteria, it amounts to 80% of the final grade. But what does a food expert mean by quality? Food has to have creativity in it, both in preparation and presentation. It has to be playful in consistency and in the harmony of the flavors. Food experts also like aesthetics, when it comes to food and creativity of the preparing technology. If the meal is an original creation, it is always a plus. Cleanliness of the place is of course a key factor also. Serving is extremely important as well. Though Michelin remains secretive about the criteria and evaluation process used to award stars for restaurants, certain factors are known to be key, Dorozsmai says. These are about the same as all gastro bloggers use, including him: the quality of the products; a chef’s mastery of flavor and cooking techniques; the chef’s ability to imbue the cuisine with his or her culinary “personality;” and consistency between visits, not just when it comes to food but also encompassing the overall dining experience.
Endre Dorozsmai: “When it comes to my top 7 of Kolozsvár, the list may seem incidental to some, but as far as I am concerned it is not at all. In an optimal situation, all restaurants should be tested more than once, and of course we should try all establishments that seem to have what it takes. But this cannot be achieved by one man doing this in his spare time. This is the role of restaurant guides. This may be one reason for being incidental, the other one may be the fact that all restaurants have better and worse days, or courses that may be poorer. One thing is for sure. The first five on the list are the best restaurants in Kolozsvár of the present. The ranking is also almost obvious. I say almost because I had a hard time to differentiate between Fragment and Baracca and between Via and Cabinet de Vin & Cocotte.
Though it didn’t make it in the top 7, Olivo was also a great experience, where the serving was impressive and professional. The same stands for the vegetarian restaurant Samsara and Nuka, located in the center of the city. I have to include here a distinctively Hungarian place, which is one of the the best-known and most popular restaurants and literary cafes in Kolozsvár: Bulgakov, which has a fair, mainstream cuisine. I had the pleasure to eat here many times. The price-value ratio is good, flavors are consistent and habitual. Rhédey café is also exigent and the interior design is impressive, the cuisine is stable. In the fast-food category, the Hungarian Kaja-tanya is also an appealing unit. In case you want something tasty and cheap, they are the answer.
So my final list of the seven best restaurants in Kolozsvár is the following:
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Title image: Bujole restaurant, Kolozsvár